Na Yang worked harder this week in practice and in the weight room.
Yang’s extra work paid off for the Missouri volleyball team Sunday in a 30-28, 30-22, 30-28 victory against No. 10 Texas at Hearnes Center. Entering the match, the Tigers were ranked No. 11.
“I think overall Na did really well,” MU coach Wayne Kreklow said. “...We worked her pretty hard this week and I was really glad to see her have a good match.”
Yang tied a career high with 21 kills, but the other two times she reached that mark were in five-game matches.
“I thank coach (Shannon) Turley a lot, because he helped me a lot,” Yang, a sophomore outside hitter, said.
Turley, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, made Yang do extra cardiovascular work when the team lifted weights and worked on conditioning. When practicing on the court, Kreklow said he included more high-intensity drills and competitive situations in practice to get Yang into better shape.
Kreklow said the he realized Yang needed to get into better shape after the Tigers’ (20-4, 14-4) match against No. 1 Nebraska on Nov. 13. Yang normally plays in the front row and then is substituted in the back row for junior defensive specialist Abbie Booth. At Nebraska, Yang played both spots.
She admitted that during the Nebraska match her heart was beating faster than usual and that she needed to improve her conditioning.
Lindsey Hunter, a senior setter, said she saw an improvement in Yang’s game Sunday.
“She was a lot quicker than she has been in the past,” Hunter said.
Senior middle blocker Lisa Boyd also saw changes.
“Na was doing really well,” Boyd said. “She was making some really great plays not just hitting, but coming down off the block and really hustling. I think that really helped her, just making little plays that helped her confidence and helped her swing better.”
Yang showed her hustle in Game 2 when she dove into the Tiger’s bench to dig a ball.
Despite tying a career-high in kills, Yang said she needed to block better.
Yang had more than a third of the Tigers’ kills.
Kreklow said the team built some momentum from almost beating Nebraska. Missouri, then ranked No. 12, fell to the Huskers 28-30, 27-30, 30-21, 30-24, 15-3.
“I think our players felt good about how we were able to compete up there,” Kreklow said. “I felt that confidence carried over to the week in practice and out here.”
For some of the Tiger’s, the win had extra significance. The Longhorns (21-4, 15-3) are the only team to sweep MU this season on Oct. 12.
“I would have been overjoyed to simply win in any combination of games,” Kreklow said. “Then to be able to do it in three helps us even more emotionally.”
Attendance for Sunday’s match was 3,050, the third-largest crowd in the team’s history.