COLUMBIA — Lisa Henning pumps her left fist and leans back, all the power, ethos and energy of the kill emanating from her stance.
She pumps her fist after a side-out or an emotional play, and she has even more reason to exult now: her Missouri Tigers are 22-0 after foiling the visiting Georgia Bulldogs on Friday night, 3-1 (25-20, 17-25, 25-19, 25-19).
It's a testament to a well-balanced roster this year that no single Tiger is a superstar. All the players are talented, scrappy and determined. But All-American Henning, listed as an outside hitter, led in just about every category on Friday night with a team-high 20 kills and three aces. She also tied libero Sarah Meister with 12 digs.
Lately, it's this last number that's most impressive.
Her offensive game has been her strength all four years, but her passing and defense were not quite where they should be in order for her to be an elite-level player, Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said.
Henning has worked hard to change that.
"Instead of trying to overplay back there [in the back row] and thinking that everything's going to come to me, I just kind of try to seek out the ball and find it," Henning said.
Her improvement is notable.
"From a coach's standpoint. ... It's really satisfying to see," Kreklow said. "You like to see players develop all around."
Henning sits on the bench during timeouts next to fellow senior Molly Kreklow, who had a season-high 52 assists against the Bulldogs. She's been setting to Henning for almost four years now. The seniors are tied as a class for the third-most wins with 84 after Friday's game.
"Me and Lisa have great chemistry," Molly Kreklow said. "My strengths are her strengths. So I really like to set quick balls, and she really likes to hit quick balls. So it just works out. And she does a great job of always being aggressive and always getting up, and I always know she's going to be ready."
The small Georgia contingent in the stands had plenty of chances to cheer as the second set tripped up Missouri once again. It was the fifth dropped set this season, and the fifth dropped second set this season.
Why so much trouble on the second set?
"If I knew that, I'd be making a lot more money," Wayne Kreklow said.
He said the Bulldogs brought an aggressive serve to the second set, but by the third, the Tigers appeared to be back in control.
Missouri looks to bring that control against No. 2 Florida at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.