Mizzou volleyball returns to Sweet 16 after defeating No. 16 Wichita State in NCAA tournament

The Tigers will face No. 1 Penn State next weekend.

Maneater File Photo

After defeating the Kansas Jayhawks the previous night, Missouri remained in Wichita, Kansas, to compete against the home team, the No. 16 Wichita State Shockers, for a chance to return to the Sweet 16.

Mizzou took the win in the fourth set 26-24 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year and fourth time in program history.

The first set opened up with a kill from redshirt freshman Kayla Caffey and was a point-for-point battle from then on. Wichita State tied the game at four but could not keep its composure on defense. While the Shockers held on to take a 22-20 lead, the Tigers came back to snatch the lead and win the set 25-23.

Mizzou commanded the offense throughout the first set, earning kill after kill. Redshirt senior Kira Larson was the weapon for the Tigers at the net, registering five kills during the first set, while freshman Dariana Hollingsworth tallied four.

In the second set, the point-by-point battle continued. The match was tied three times before the Tigers took a 10-9 lead. Larson continued her dominance for Mizzou, giving the Tigers an 11-9 lead after earning her eighth kill of the match. Wichita State did not fall behind by much, however, coming back to tie up the match at 20. Junior Alyssa Munlyn hammered a kill to put the Tigers back on top 21-20, followed by a solo block from redshirt senior Melanie Crow to force a timeout by the Shockers. Munlyn closed the set after prevailing on the frontline to get another kill and give Missouri the 25-22 set victory.

Senior outside hitter Sydney Deeken not only performed well on offense but shined on the back row for the Tigers as well. She recording 12 digs within the first two sets and 16 overall, playing a big part on the Mizzou defense.

In front of its home crowd, Wichita State didn’t go down without a fight. Though the third set went in favor of the Tigers through the first six points, the Shockers proceeded to go on a five-point run, capitalizing on Mizzou’s poor blocking. After remaining stagnant in the first two sets, the Shockers’ blocking came alive. The Tigers eventually caught up to remain only a few points behind the Shockers, but they were not able to take back control of the set. Wichita State grabbed its first set of the match 25-21 to avoid being swept.

The fourth set opened in favor of the Shockers 3-0, the first time they took a lead to begin a set in the match. Mizzou trailed until late in the set, when the Tigers were able to catch up and tie the score at 16 all. The Shockers remained in the lead after scoring on a kill, but a 3-0 scoring run by the Tigers gave Mizzou its first big lead of the set, 19-17. Rally after rally, the fight for points became significantly more intense as Wichita State tried to hold on to its season in the last few points of the match. The Shockers tied up the score at 20 and held the lead until the Tigers miraculously tied up the score again at 23 after trailing the majority of the set. Winning the next point to put them at set point, the Shockers could not hold the Tigers. Mizzou rallied back to tie up the set at 24 to send the set into extra points. After Missouri scored two points in a row with back-to-back kills by Deeken, the game was sealed in favor of the Tigers.

Head coach Wayne Kreklow said he was impressed with the fight his team showed throughout the match.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled to be able to get out of here with a win,” Kreklow said in a press release. “It was a battle. It was one of those epic matches that could’ve gone either way.”

The Tigers will travel to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on No. 1 Penn State Dec. 8. The first serve time is still to be determined.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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