COLUMBIA — The Missouri volleyball team is 27-0 and now ranked No. 7 nationally.
But even though they are undefeated, if you don't normally care about volleyball, why should you care now? The team's staff and support might not be completely objective, but they have a few ideas:
7. The women on the team are so darned nice. They sign autographs and talk to fans after home games, so fans get the chance to interact with the players. The student trainers for the team came up with an analogy to describe the Tigers' personalities:
"They're all different colors in the crayon box, but you need all of the colors to make a great picture," sophomore student trainer Brianna Burns said.
"It's like a masterpiece going on right now," sophomore student trainer Eric Jackson said.
6. Six freshmen are helping the team dominate the SEC. It's amazing how quickly they meshed with the current players, junior student trainer Samantha Ziegler said. Just how good are the newcomers? Well, Carly Kan was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Oct. 14, and SEC Player of the Week on Oct. 28. She typically starts with fellow freshman Emily Thater and sometimes Loxley Keala.
5. Home games are in the historic Hearnes Center, a building that opened in 1972 and used to house Missouri basketball. Volleyball attendance has averaged 3,645 people for the past five home matches. Team athletic trainer Eric McDonnell said the shape of the bowl "makes the crowd feel like they're part of the action." On game day, the crowd at the Hearnes Center gets loud, making it an intense environment for visiting teams.
4. Missouri has a high-speed style of play. Assistant coach Deng Yang said it impresses recruits who come to watch, and the up-tempo, varied offense keeps the game moving quickly. But volleyball novices can also follow the basic bump-set-spike pattern learned in physical education classes.
3. Kids and adults enjoy the matches. Yang pointed out that not only can adults watch an exciting competition, but kids can also watch or just play and be loud. Truman the Tiger shows up to all home matches. Missouri hosts a Kid's Karnival beforehand and elementary school kids line the court to high-five players as they're announced.
2. Just two regular season home games are left, and those games are a chance to "see two of the best female athletes in Mizzou's history," sports information director Shawn Davis said. Senior setter Molly Kreklow is currently second in the nation with more than 12 assists per set. (Davis said she's probably the best setter in the nation, but then again, he admits he's biased). And senior outside hitter Lisa Henning recently broke the school record for career kills (1,658).
1. "It's history being written," practice player Derek Koetter said. All those records shattered, including outdoing the previous best undefeated season opening streak of 19-0 from 1982. And all without pushing a single match to five sets.
The two chances to watch the Tigers at home in regular season play are Nov. 22 when they play Mississippi State and Nov. 27 when they face Arkansas.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.