The match started late, but Missouri made quick work of Oklahoma in the Big 12 Conference home opener Saturday at Hearnes Center.
The start time was pushed back because of a late finish in the MU football game, but the Tigers gave their fans an early finish by sweeping the Sooners 30-21, 30-25, 31-29.
The Tigers used the extra time to prepare for the match and that preparation and the support of 1,432 fans helped aid in the win. The Tigers improved to 9-2, 2-0. OU is 8-5, 0-1.
Sophomore Lindsey Noll enjoyed the added atmosphere that accompanied the crowd after a home football game. No. 23 MU defeated Middle Tennessee State 41-40 in overtime.
“So many people come over after the football team gets a big win,” Noll said. “They want to cheer for some more Mizzou sports and they are awesome fans.”
Tigers coach Susan Kreklow said she thinks the experience will benefit the team in the long run because of its youth.
“It was a new experience for the freshmen,” Kreklow said. “Those that played here last year have dealt with it.”
Missouri came out strong in the first two games, but needed to battle from behind to win the final game.
The Sooners led 29-28 with the serve, but Missouri fought back to earn the final three points. Noll tied the game with a kill in the middle, freshman Nicole Wilson tipped one over for the lead and senior Mary Lauren Smith finished the match with a kill, her team-leading 12th.
“It is very positive the way we came back and continued to battle,” Kreklow said. “We easily could have let up and allowed them to win. I am very proud with our effort.”
This came after the Sooners regained the lead after a Missouri five-point run to take a 26-25 lead. After a Sheena Werling service error, senior Juliana Godoi served four straight points, ending with an ace to give the Tigers the lead.
“We are hoping to develop the ability to finish,” Kreklow said. “We came out and controlled Games 1 and 2 and we had trouble finishing and that’s something this team will have to continue to work on.”
Noll said she thinks the break between Games 2 and 3 tends to decrease the team’s intensity.
“It takes some of the emotion and intensity down a little bit,” Noll said. “That is something we need to work on, to keep that same steady intensity going the entire match.”
Wilson set a career-high with an .857 hitting percentage. She did not play in the first two games, but led the team with six kills in the third game.
Wilson said it is difficult to come into a third game, but also said that there is a benefit.
“I’ve been able to watch from the sidelines and see what needs to be done and what I need to do to help,” Wilson said. “That makes it much easier to know exactly what people will do and won’t do out there.”
Kreklow said that practice battles among the Tigers middle blockers helped Wilson prepare for the match.
“Nicole played tremendously,” Kreklow said. “What benefits our team is we have three very good middles and they are battling each other every day.”
The Tigers took an early lead in Game 1 and stretched the lead to 26-19 on a Smith kill. Smith added another kill to up the lead to 27-20 and freshman Jessica Vander Kooi ended the game with a kill off the Oklahoma blockers.
Missouri again took an early lead in Game 2. Oklahoma helped the Tigers maintain the lead with five service errors in the game. The Tigers led 29-21, but the Sooners battled back to earn three straight points. Sophomore Lisa Boyd ended the match with a kill.
“They were making mistakes,” Kreklow said. “It was their conference opener and they were on the road and mistakes happen, but you have to play through them.”
Smith led Missouri with 12 kills. Boyd added 11 and Noll earned nine kills for a .643 hitting percentage. Lindsey Hunter led the Tigers with 37 assists and nine digs.
Freshman Joanna Schmitt led the Sooners with 17 kills, and Laura Tomes had 13. The Sooners committed 11 service errors.