Leandra Mangual-Duran digs a serve from the back row (copy)

Missouri outside hitter Leandra Mangual-Duran digs a serve from the back row during the Black and Gold game on August 16 at the Hearnes Center. Mangual-Duran is a true freshman from Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

A perfect 4-0 start earned Missouri a Top 25 spot for the first time this season and the Tigers will look to build on it as they host the Mizzou Invitational from Sept. 13-15 at the Hearnes Center.

The three day invitational begins on Friday with a day-night doubleheader for Missouri. The Tigers begin play at 11 a.m. against Austin Peay and close out the day with a 7 p.m. matchup with Northern Iowa.

Austin Peay comes into the invitational with a 1-5 record after playing tough road games against North Carolina State, Kansas State, Maryland, Northwestern and Texas Tech.

The most recent matchup between the two teams was during a season-opening tournament at Austin Peay in 2017, which ended in a five-set victory for the Governors. However, the Tigers home advantage and the offensive attack of Kylie Deberg and Tyanna Omazic make Missouri the favorite in the match.

In the next matchup, Missouri has proven to be historically unsuccessful as they trail Northern Iowa 10-3-2 in the all-time series. The Panthers make their way to the Hearnes Center with a 2-5 record after tough non-conference losses.

Northern Iowa has losses against No. 3 Texas, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 17 Creighton, and No. 20 Southern California. After facing tough opponents on the road already, the Panthers will be ready to compete agiainst the Tigers Friday night.

The invitational continues for Missouri at 2 p.m. Saturday against UMKC. The Kangaroos sit at 1-3 on the year with losses against South Dakota and Tulsa. Missouri leads the all-time series 30-4, but the last time the two teams met in 2014, it resulted in a 3-1 win for UMKC. With Missouri dropping only three sets so far, the Kangaroo’s lackluster offense shouldn’t be much of a concern.

The invitational concludes at noon Sunday with a matchup against Boise State. The Tigers trail the all-time series 2-1. The Broncos have the best start to the season out of any Missouri opponent in the invitational with a 4-2 record. The two losses came against No. 7 Marquette and No. 13 BYU.

Boise State is currently on a four-game win streak after sweeping the Thunderbird Classic against Middle Tennessee, Saint Mary’s and Southern Utah. The Broncos are led by senior Janell Walley, a member of the All-Mountain West team in 2017 and 2018.

The final game of the invitational could prove to be the most competitive of the entire weekend.

The Tigers enter the invitational at 4-0 with big wins against No. 14 Michigan and Dayton. Missouri has dropped only three sets so far this season and have two true road victories. They are led by Kylie Deberg, a preseason All-SEC member, who is averaging over 18 kills a game.

Andrea Fuentes has also been crucial to Missouri’s offensive success, averaging 40 assists a game with a season-high 55 assist game last Saturday against Northern Illinois. Other important contributors include Tyanna Omazic and Leketor Member-Meneh. Omazic trails only Deberg on kills for the season and Member-Meneh leads the team in service aces for the year.

Following the Mizzou Invitational, the Tigers will wrap up non-conference play with a challenging two-game road trip to Waco, Texas for the Baylor Classic on Sept. 20 and 21.

  • Sports reporter, fall 2019. Studying sports journalism. Reach me at jdscrz@mail.missouri.edu, or 882-5700.

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