COLUMBIA — It was their 18th in a row, but this win did not come easily.
The Missouri volleyball team continued its undefeated season with a sweep against Auburn on Friday at the Hearnes Center. Though the Missouri Tigers won in three straight sets (27-25, 25-11, 25-21), they fought a long-hard battle against their Southeastern Conference counterparts.
"Overall really pleased, because that's a good team," head coach Wayne Kreklow said.
Auburn, although unranked, defeated No. 10 Nebraska earlier this season and proved to be stiff competition for Missouri.
During the first set, both teams alternated taking the lead, but Auburn had a three-point advantage near the end of the set. With a score of 17-20, it looked as if Missouri would lose the first set for the first time this season, but a key kill by freshman Carly Kan helped Missouri regain composure and take the set 27-25.
Before the second set began, Missouri's starters gathered in a huddle in the center of their half of the court. It wasn't an unusual sight, but the players lingered longer than they normally would as they prepared for the next set.
"We really just talked as a team about what we need to do in order not let it be that close anymore," junior Whitney Little said.
Breaking from the huddle, Missouri set up on the court looking poised. They continued that composure as they played a crisp, clean game and easily took the second set 25-11. The third proved more of a challenge as Auburn tried to fight back, but Missouri sealed its third SEC win.
Kreklow has stressed throughout the season that his team hasn't focused on the number of wins and instead treats every game individually and Lisa Henning echoed that sentiment after the game.
"It's awesome," Henning said. "We are just taking it game by game and I think that it's kinda surreal and just weird that we haven't lost yet."
Henning said that she and her teammates don't go into games thinking, "We have to win this," or "We are undefeated, we can't lose," but rather concentrate on giving their best performance and taking whatever outcome is given.
Though the team may not be thinking about it, Friday's win put Missouri closer to breaking the 19-0 opening record set by the 1982 team.
Missouri's next opponent is Austin Peay (5-13) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Hearnes Center.
If Missouri wins against Austin Peay, the crucial record-breaking game will be at Tennessee (8-8) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.