COLUMBIA — The Missouri volleyball program is ready for the small screen.
Wednesday night’s annual Black and Gold intrasquad scrimmage provided fans a glimpse of a team that went 35-1 and set team records in several categories. It also allowed players a chance to kick off a new era in Missouri volleyball — one that takes place on national TV.
With the launch of the SEC Network on Aug. 14, the No. 15 Missouri volleyball team will see a rise in the number of times it appears on television, and that exposure will only amplify the national presence of the team and the sport.
Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow, who said he was pleased with his team's performance in the scrimmage, said the SEC Network allows his team to be seen in different geographic areas.
"Any time you can get on TV — and we've been fighting that for years — all you have to do is get volleyball on TV more and have more people see it," Kreklow said. "I think the fan base — not just here, but everywhere — is going to grow because I think it's a very exciting game to watch."
Of the 40 volleyball games the SEC Network has scheduled to broadcast this fall, 10 of them will feature the Tigers. At least five more are scheduled to be available online through the network’s streaming services, including ESPN3.
According to Missouri volleyball's schedule, some of the Tigers' TV matchups will be against formidable SEC opponents, including No. 10 Florida and No. 19 Kentucky.
The Tigers were picked to finish third in the preseason SEC poll, as voted by the league’s coaches. All-Americans Carly Kan and Whitney Little were Preseason All-SEC picks.
Missouri senior middle blocker Whitney Little, who finished the scrimmage with six kills for the Gold team, said the SEC Network would make it easier for her friends and family in Texas to watch games.
Little also said the network could aid the program's recruiting process. For instance, the Tigers have two Hawaiian players on their roster, defensive specialist Kan and setter Loxley Keala, who have never seen a Missouri volleyball game on TV before now.
"I feel it's just a great advantage for us as a team, and you never know who's watching," Little said. "I'm sure people are going to watch that, and it's going to make them realize they could be playing on TV."
Above all, Kreklow said the network can only make the game of volleyball more enjoyable for people.
"People really enjoy being a part of (the volleyball experience)," Kreklow said. "The more we can get that out there, the better off we're going to be as a sport, not just us."