COLUMBIA – The set by senior Molly Kreklow was timed just right.
She twisted her body and set the volleyball behind her as senior Lisa Henning jumped and spiked it home for the final point of the third set Friday against Mississippi State.
A deafening roar followed as Missouri players rushed the Hearnes Center court. The Tigers had just won an Southeastern Conference championship, the first SEC team title in school history.
"It was crazy, I can't believe that actually happened," Henning said. "... It was like 'Holy cow' that really just happened. It was so surreal with everyone and the confetti and it was just like what just happened, we just made history."
"I am proud of every one of these folks on this stage," head coach Wayne Kreklow said following the win.
He stood surrounded by his team and coaching staff adorned in black hats and gold t-shirts that read, "Mizzou SEC Champions 2013." Black, white and gold confetti fell around him as he hoisted the championship trophy in the air and chanted "M-I-Z," which was followed by a booming "Z-O-U" from the fans.
"I couldn't think of a group who deserves it more than these guys," Kreklow said. "They've worked so hard for so long. For them to be able do this in the SEC is just a phenomenal accomplishment, and I just couldn't be happier for them."
Missouri swept Mississippi State (25-19, 25-16, 25-17) in front of 7,879 fans, a crowd that broke the all-time attendance record, to improve to 32-0 and 16-0 in SEC play. The win marked not only the first conference championship for the volleyball program, but also the 300th win at Missouri for coaching duo Wayne and Susan Kreklow.
Despite now being branded conference champions, the Tigers are still focused on the rest of their season. The win clinched Missouri's spot in the NCAA tournament, and with just two regular season matches left and no losses under its belt, the team will likely host the first and second rounds of the tournament.
"You kinda have tonight to celebrate it and then tomorrow it's back out and we still have that target on our back," Henning said. "Even though we accomplished the goal we wanted to, we have new goals now. ... We still have everything to prove."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.