Missouri volleyball loses to No. 3 Florida on senior night at Hearnes Center

The Tigers came out strong in the early going but could not recover from a second-set collapse that shifted all of the momentum to the Gators.

Maneater File Photo

Missouri volleyball concluded its regular season Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the No. 3-ranked Florida Gators at home. The defeat on senior night confirmed that the Tigers would finish third in the Southeastern Conference with a 13-5 conference record.

This match was also the final one in Hearnes Center for redshirt seniors Melanie Crow and Kira Larson, as well as seniors Sydney Deeken, Courtney Eckenrode and Ali Kreklow.

Mizzou was the better team for much of the first two sets. The Tigers won the first set 25-23 and jumped out to a 19-12 lead in the second. However, Florida came charging back with an 11-3 run to take the lead and eventually took the second set 29-27.

It was all Florida in the remaining sets. The Gators held the Tigers to a .129 hitting percentage in the third set, which finished 25-15 in favor of Florida. Mizzou kept the fourth set close but was unable to prevail in crucial moments, losing 25-23.

“I thought we really played well until the end, but [Florida] just made bigger plays when they had to,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said in a press release. “I thought we did a lot of good things today. We had chances to win in sets two and four but just couldn't quite get it done. I think you still can take away a lot of really good things though. We really battled and competed well.”

In similar fashion to the two teams’ previous meeting on Nov. 12, Missouri’s defense did an excellent job shutting down 2017 SEC Player of the Year Rhamat Alhassan, who was limited to an unimposing .056 hitting percentage. The Tigers instead got torched by Alhassan’s positional counterpart, Rachael Kramer, who recorded 14 kills on .478 hitting.

Missouri also struggled to find an answer to Florida outside hitter Shainah Joseph, who followed up the best performance of her career in the last meeting between the two teams with 19 kills and a .425 hitting percentage on Saturday.

Crow registered a season-high 17 kills against the Gators and also had six digs and one ace. Redshirt freshman Kayla Caffey led the Tigers with eight total blocks, Eckenrode and redshirt sophomore Riley Sents each tallied 16 digs and Eckenrode also added 32 assists.

Mizzou did not receive automatic qualification into the NCAA tournament and as a result must wait and hope to be selected by the Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee for an at-large bid. The selection show can be viewed on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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