*An earlier version of this story reported information about Niki Collier from MU media relations that the department later changed. This story now reflects that new information.
COLUMBIA — Although it was a few players short, the Missouri volleyball team swept Mississippi State (25-15, 25-21, 25-19) during its ESPNU nationally-televised match Sunday afternoon at Hearnes Center.
Before the game, team representatives announced that sophomore outside hitter Taylor Simpson has left the Missouri volleyball program for personal reasons. This was Simpson’s first season with the Tigers after playing for Nebraska last season and also attending Florida State for a brief period of time.
The team also announced that sophomore defensive specialist Niki Collier "is taking a personal leave" for an indefinite amount of time. The team has not revealed any more information about either player.*
With the absence of Simpson and Collier on the court, the Missouri team will have to make a few adjustments to finish out this season strong.
“We know that we need to fill those roles, and everyone’s working harder,” sophomore outside hitter Emily Wilson said. “We’re doing just fine.”
The team previewed a role change during Sunday’s game by using freshman outside hitter/middle blocker Regan Peltier throughout the game in both offense and defensive positions. She made five kills on 17 swings and 10 digs.
“It's definitely different,” Peltier said. “When you're (in the) front row, you have to be focused on blocking and staying high, and when you’re in the back row, you're staying low and having to read.”
Coach Wayne Kreklow said that Peltier is good at just about any position, but her only drawback would be her size, at 6-2.
The loss of players has shifted the team’s dynamic, forcing players to start at different positions and to adjust in the middle of the season. Kreklow thinks these changes could benefit a few of the players.
“We need to find some spots for Melissa (Hartsel), Lydia (Ely) and Regan (Peltier)," Kreklow said. “We need a couple of those kids to step up. They have to look at this as a great opportunity to get out there, get some time and do some stuff.“
Sunday’s match puts the Tigers 14-5 overall and 6-3 in their SEC matches.
The Tigers will play Ole Miss at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Oxford, Miss., and Auburn at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Auburn, Ala.