COLUMBIA — The Missouri volleyball team has eight games left before it officially ends its first regular season in the Southeastern Conference, but as the season is slowly winding down, so is the team.
The Tigers have lost two starting players — sophomores Taylor Simpson, who left the team, and Niki Collier, who is taking a leave of absence for personal reasons — and lost four of seven games in October.
South Carolina (15-10, 3-10 SEC)
at Missouri (15-8, 7-6 SEC)
WHEN: 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hearnes Center
TV: Mizzou Sports Network
These losses have resulted in the team dropping to 15-8 overall and 7-6 in SEC games, leaving the Tigers ranked 54th in the NCAA's RPI rankings and seventh in the SEC, but there still may be hope for the team to finish strong.
“In the beginning of the season we were doing a really good job,” setter Molly Kreklow said. “Obviously people understand that we lost players, and I think that’s hard for any team.
"Moving forward we still have a lot of big games, and I think we still have a chance of ending well but it’s up to us to prepare and improve.”
Kreklow and Lisa Henning, both juniors, have taken on leadership roles as the team's only upperclassmen and hope to lead the Tigers out of their slump.
“We need to refocus,” Henning said. “We have to give all of our effort all of the time and have no regrets or excuses.”
Henning said that along with having to adjust to fewer players, the team was also dealing with a bit of homesickness. They played away games for six of their seven matches this month.
Kreklow and Henning are doing their best to pull the team along. They have earned 23 double-doubles combined, which is second in the SEC, and have constantly proven themselves as top players throughout the season.
Now, Henning and Kreklow want to focus on bringing the team to a new level of success.
“Me and Lisa have both gotten a lot of individual awards, but that doesn’t really mean anything to us anymore,” Kreklow said. “We want to win the SEC and be a top team in the country. We just need to work through this year and focus on being really great as a team.”
Kreklow said she has confidence that the younger players on the team will mature and become more comfortable with their new positions by the end of this season. She said the team’s experiences this season will prepare them to take over the SEC next year.
After a month on the road, the Tigers will play a home game against South Carolina at 6:30 p.m Friday at Hearnes Center. Henning said the team’s goal for the match is to be more disciplined and minimize service errors.