COLUMBIA — Missouri volleyball faced its toughest road competition yet Sunday against Alabama, but the team was able to hold on to its perfect record.
The still-undefeated No. 7 Tigers faced the Crimson Tide for the second time this season. Although the Tigers' offense has been at the forefront of the team's performance this season, Missouri relied heavily on its defense to defeat Alabama 3-1 (25-22, 24-26, 25-20, 25-12). The Tigers are now 29-0.
The season-high 19 blocks the team posted Sunday were key to that defensive performance. Junior Whitney Little led the Tigers with 10 blocks, but the entire Missouri team contributed to the impressive defensive showing. Seven Tigers contributed blocks.
"Blocks are something we've been working on in practice, more than usual, because we knew we could improve on them," said Little. "Once we really focused in on that, it really did help our performance."
Missouri's 19 total blocks against Alabama show how versatile this still-undefeated team truly is.
Although Alabama was unranked going into this match, the Tigers knew this rematch would not be easily won, especially without the backing of the Hearnes Center crowd that has surpassed 3,000 on multiple occasions this season.
"Alabama was definitely our hardest road match yet," Little said. "We knew going into it it was going to be tough, because their losses were only against Florida, Kentucky and us. We knew it wasn't going to be easy by any means, and it definitely wasn't."
The road ahead doesn't get any easier for Missouri. On Friday, the team takes on No. 5 Florida in Gainesville, Fla..
When the two teams met earlier this season on Oct. 20 at the Hearnes Center, the then-No. 19 Tigers upset then-No. 2 Florida 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 25-18), the first time Missouri has beaten a top-five team.
The rematch against Florida will threaten Missouri's perfect 29-0 record this season.
"We knew we could use this game against Alabama to help us prepare for next week against Florida because we know (Florida) will be our hardest road match of the year," Little said.