Abbie Booth has bragging rights again.
Not that Booth, a senior defensive specialist on the Missouri volleyball team, wants them. A Kansas City resident and graduate of Notre Dame de Sion High School, Booth is friends with several Kansas players whom she competed against and played with in high school and on club teams.
But, after the No. 17 Tigers cruised past the visiting Jayhawks 30-19, 30-26, 30-18 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight win against their bitter rivals, Booth had no intention of gloating.
“It’s nice to beat them, but I don’t brag,” she said. “Because, they’re my friends.”
Booth had six digs as Missouri (12-4, 6-1 Big 12 Confere nce) won its sixth straight match. Nicole Wilson led the Tigers with 13 kills. Jessica Vander Kooi added 12 kills and 10 digs. Jana Correa led Kansas (8-8, 1-6) with 16 kills.
Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said his team came out flat in its most recent home match Sept. 27 against Baylor. If there was any chance of that happening Wednesday, though, a raucous crowd made sure it didn’t.
The 3,031 fans were more fired up than usual to see the Tigers take on the Jayhawks. It was the fifth-largest crowd for a Missouri volleyball game, and Tigers players said the crowd helped them get fired up.
“I love hearing the roar,” outside hitter Julianna Klein said. “It brings so much energy in, it gets us going. We just get so pumped up.”
Kreklow joked that the Missouri student section has started to create a buzz on the internet since the Tigers’ sweep of Texas on Sept. 23.
“They’ve been the talk of some of the volleyball chat rooms, about how tough it is to play here,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t know if they really understand the impact they can have on the outcome of a contest.”
The fired-up Tigers, after practicing on serving extensively Tuesday, came out aggressively. Missouri, which came into the match with 1.5 aces per game in conference play, had five in Game 1, and 10 in the match.
Kreklow said the aces pleased him, but the Tigers’ 15 service errors was a disappointment.
“I think with the serving we got a bit too aggressive,” he said.
As the Tigers signed autographs for fans after the match, Kansas’ Natalie Uhart crossed into enemy territory to give Booth a hug and congratulate her. Uhart was a teammate of Booth’s in club play, and one of her best friends on the team. But, the two hadn’t seen each other recently because Uhart played for Long Beach State the past two years.
For many, the Missouri-Kansas rivalry is filled with distain. For Booth, however, playing Kansas was just a chance to see old friends.
“It was just good to catch up,” she said.