Sometimes a team needs a loss.
Missouri learned this in the third game of its match against Arkansas on Saturday at the Tiger Invitational. The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 30-15, 30-18. 26-30, 30-16.
“It’s never a good thing to lose, but it was a good experience because we’d never lost before,” outside hitter Mary Lauren Smith said. “We dealt with it really well and came back to play like we should’ve in the last game.”
The loss was the only black spot of the weekend, and the Tigers finished 3-0 to win the tournament.
Setter Lindsay Hunter, averaged 13 kills and was named tournament MVP. She joined teammates Shen Danru and Smith on the all-tounament team.
After dominating the first two games, the Tigers’ faltered in the third, allowing the Razorbacks had 20 kills to the Tigers 16 and outhit them .357 to .278.
The Razorbacks also earned four blocks to the Tigers two.
“A few mental lapses at the wrong times by everyone on the team took it’s toll,” Smith said.
Defensive specialist Juliana Godoi said, “It wasn’t anything psychological or anything. We just fell behind about five points and we just weren’t able to catch up.”
Outside hitter Shen Danru had 42 kills Saturday and tied with defensive specialist Sara Parks to lead Missouri with 17 digs apiece. Smith had 19 kills, with 33 attacks. The Tigers also compiled 12 service aces.
“The most important thing is to keep the girls relaxed,” Godoi said. “We have a very young team, and when things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to get frustrated.”
In the fourth game, the Tigers had 16 assists to the Razorbacks eight. Hunter had 17 sets in the game, and Danru had seven kills.
“We came back paying more attention and learning from our mistakes,” Danru said.
The Tigers opened the invitational with a win against Montana State on Friday night. In her first collegiate start, freshman outside hitter Jessica Vander Kooi hit .667, and recorded nine kills and 10 digs. The Tigers also tied the school record of 17 service aces in a three-game match.
The Tigers will play Friday and Saturday in the Utah Classic against Utah Valley State, Washington State, and Utah.
“We’ll continue working on what we need to do and implement that in our play,” Smith said.