Missouri volleyball games wouldn't be the same without army of helpers

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:21 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 27, 2013
A record 7,879 fans cheer for the Missouri volleyball team Friday at the Hearnes Center.

COLUMBIA — Two housekeeping workers came out with dry mops and walked slowly back and forth, cutting wide tiger stripes in the celebratory confetti on the floor of the Hearnes Center.

"I'm still leaning toward going to get my leaf blower," Bryan Prince said Friday as he pushed the confetti into what looked like a pile of autumn leaves in black, yellow and white.

Senior night game to air live on radio

What: Missouri vs. Arkansas

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday 

Live broadcast: KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM

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Missouri volleyball had just won the school's first Southeastern Conference team championship. It remained unstoppable, plowing through Kentucky on the road Sunday.

But after the SEC celebration, in the empty arena, the housekeepers walked up and down, sweeping the confetti that an hour earlier had been in the fists of children who came down to the court after the ceremony. The housekeepers' job, Prince said, is to make it look like nobody's been there.

So they got out dustpans and brooms and a snow shovel and tossed the confetti into trash bins.

The crowd had gone from a volleyball attendance record of 7,879 in the stands to three on the court.

Hours earlier, Krissy Ellis, the associate director of event management for Missouri athletics, had looked up into those stands. The doors of the Hearnes Center wouldn't open until an hour before the match, but she had been at work since 8 a.m. and at Hearnes since 4 p.m., wearing tennis shoes so she could speed walk up and down the bleacher stairs and into the tunnels by the court and keep track of the small army getting the Hearnes Center ready for the match.

When she looked up, she saw that her three staff supervisors had arrived, ready to supervise the ticket takers and ushers, assist with security and take care of issues in the stands or around the court.

"I have the three starters in the house," she said. "Those three guys, Greg, Ken and Larry, they're rock stars."

And her three rock stars were everywhere throughout the evening: helping set up turnstiles by the entrances, making sure camera cables were secure so no one would trip, and saying hello to familiar fans like the 1-year-old triplets who come to every home match. During the match, Ellis sat by the court, accessible to any officials who needed her, and spoke into her microphone to the three up in the stands, guiding them to fans transgressing the no-flash-photography rule. She made sure parking attendants were set for the heavy traffic after the match and kept an eye on the marketing and media teams.

And Ellis and the three rock stars are just four in the team that puts together a Hearnes Center production.

There's RJ Wuller, the director of equipment operations for Olympics sports at MU, who washes the team's uniforms and packs the travel bags. He brought out boxes of SEC championship T-shirts and hats Friday night, stowing them under the scorers table. There are the four officials on the court and the scoreboard operator and the scorekeeper. There's Ryan Maris from ticket operations, Keith Soder from marketing and Tom Brintnall from production. On Friday, there were seven players from Missouri's softball team who volunteered to work the sidelines during the match.

"A lot of people have to do things really well for something like this to take place," head coach Wayne Kreklow said during the SEC postgame ceremony.

He was talking about the SEC win, of course, so that means the players and coaches and athletic trainers and sports psychologist and fans.

But a look around the Hearnes Center makes clear that there are more people involved.

"One minute you're helping present the trophy; the next minute you're in the parking lot helping direct traffic," Ellis said.

The game ended around 8 p.m., and by about 9:30, the athletic department photographers finally closed their laptops and picked up their cameras. The photo galleries were up on the website. Press row was empty, stacked Diet Coke cans and a mostly empty box of Tic Tac littering the tables. The chairs that were on the court had been wheeled away.

And after the confetti was off the floor, one of the housekeepers went to get the floor scrubber, just in case the team had practice the next day.

Meanwhile 0utside, the video board at Memorial Stadium congratulated the SEC champions.

 Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.


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