As a young team, Missouri is learning how to finish matches off. It still has a ways to go.
Kansas State rallied to defeat Missouri 27-30, 19-30, 31-29, 30-20, 15-9 at Hearnes Center. No. 5 Kansas St. leads the Big 12 Conference and has won seven straight matches against Missouri (16-9, 9-7).
“When you get in an opportunity where you are getting close to winning a game or a match, you have to continue to push through,” Tigers coach Susan Kreklow said. “Those are things we are working on and trying to get better at.”
Missouri led 27-25 in Game 3 and seemed poised to put the Wildcats away. Kansas State (24-3, 14-1) seized momentum with the next three points and Lauren Goehring and Gabby Guerre teamed for a block to end the game.
“They are just one of those teams that if you get them down and keep momentum on your side, you can definitely beat them,” Lindsey Noll said. “But if you give them just one chance to think that they are going to win, they will pull it out. They are just an awesome team. Letting them have Game 3 was huge for us, because it let them get their confidence back and gain the momentum.”
Kreklow said good teams, like Kansas State, have the ability to come back from two games down.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum,” Kreklow said. “We have been in that position and have been able to come back and beat teams. The game is never over until you win three.”
Tigers had a strong lead
The Tigers started strong in Game 4, taking a 7-5 lead. Missouri, though, started to make errors and Kansas State took advantage. The Wildcats used a 13-2 run to pull away.
Noll said Missouri is confident and continues to work hard, but that is not enough to win tough matches.
“But we need to cut down on the unforced errors, that’s what is really killing us,” Noll said. “We give them runs of two, three, four points in a row and we can’t do that. We need to stay on top of our game.”
Kansas State had an 8-1 streak early in Game 5 and Missouri could not pull close.
“They are a really good team and they have more experience than us,” Shen Danru said. “They adjusted their passing patterns and adjusted everything. That makes it harder for us to pull through.”
After Missouri won a close Game 1, it used strong blocking and defense to pull away from the Wildcats in Game 2. The Tigers earned five blocks in the game and had a season-high 21 in the match. Noll tied a career-high with three solo blocks and Jenny Duitsman earned seven blocks.
“Jenny, coming off the bench, provided a real spark,” Kreklow said. “She did a real nice job blocking the ball. It really gave us a boost and allowed us to gain momentum and keep momentum.”
Shen set a career high with seven aces, four in Game 1 when she had consecutive aces to give the Tigers a 27-25 lead. Shen also had a career-high 24 digs.
“It is extremely frustrating when you get close,” Kreklow said. “When you get close and you know your team is in position to win those and just can’t get over the hump. On the other side, we need to look at that this team is improving every day. We need to continue to look