COLUMBIA — Having dropped two of its final three matches, including one at Texas A&M, the Missouri volleyball team’s postseason hopes were anything but guaranteed. But the Tigers managed to claim one of the last at-large slots in the 64-team NCAA tournament, their eighth straight tournament appearance.
“I’m really excited,” sophomore Lei Wang said. “Texas A&M was one of the things we were worried about, but they didn’t make it and we did.”
That was the good news. The bad news came when MU learned it would head to Seattle to meet the No. 6 seeded Washington Huskies at 9 p.m. on Friday. The Huskies have been to the past three Final Fours. But senior Na Yang wasn’t worried about the difficulty of the match.
“Any team can beat any team,” Na said. “We just have to play our best.”
The Huskies enter the tournament at 26-3, with all three losses taking the full five games. That includes an 11-1 mark at home, with the only loss coming to No. 1 seed Stanford.
“We’re going to have to prepare and do the best we can and hope we can execute some things,” coach Wayne Kreklow said. “But I’ve got no false illusions that this is going to be anything but one of our toughest matches of the season.”
Kreklow said that other than an injury to freshman Catie Wilson, the Tigers will be relatively healthy. Wilson will not practice this week, but should be available to play.
If the Tigers defeat the Huskies, they would meet either Brigham Young or Mississippi in the second round. MU already faced Mississippi once this year, losing in five games to the Rebels. The Tigers have never played Brigham Young.