COLUMBIA — Seniors Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning and their fellow starters ran around the court during introductions Wednesday, high-fiving the kids that lined three-quarters of the court, as usual.
They high-fived the team staff on the bench, as usual.
Then they high-fived Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, not as usual.
"Looking forward to watching SEC champs @MizzouVB go 34-0 in their final match at home tonight against Arkansas #Mizzou," said Gov. Nixon's Twitter account, @GovJayNixon, before the game.
And the Missouri Tigers did just that, defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 29-27).
Kreklow opened the evening with the serve, holding it for three points before the Razorbacks got a sideout. Missouri took the first set without giving up the lead.
Arkansas opened the second set with a point, forcing the Tigers to work to find their rhythm. Then in the third set a few Tiger mistakes early on kept Arkansas in the set. The two teams went back and forth, almost as if the Tigers didn't want the season to end. They finished at 29-27.
And just like that, the regular season was over.
The team recognized the teary-eyed Kreklow and Henning after the match with flowers, framed jerseys and a slide show of photos from throughout their lives and careers.
Senior volunteer assistant coach Matt Porter was recognized as well.
He said the team has been unbelievable in their success, and he's benefited from growing with the team.
"I used to be super quiet, but now me and Molly and Lisa are the best of friends, and I couldn't have asked for two better people to share a senior class with," he said.
Kreklow and Henning, current roommates, watched the slide show with their arms around each other, laughing and talking.
"I honestly don't ever want to leave, but obviously sometime you have to move on with your life," Henning said. "You only get four years for a reason. But I feel confident that we set a nice tone for this team and taught our underclassmen well what is expected, and how high expectations (are) what you need to have in a team in order to grow. So I feel really confident in our underclassmen."
Coach Wayne Kreklow said it was good for Missouri to end playing two tough teams — Kentucky and Arkansas — and the next step for the team is to start over for the NCAA tournament.
"At some point we'll look back and try to dissect it and figure out how it all happened," he said. "To do this (stay undefeated) over that long a period of time is just something that's really remarkable."