Mizzou Wins Five Set Showdown Against Auburn
AUBURN, AL -- Mizzou volleyball won a crucial SEC showdown, 3-2 (14-25, 25-16, 25-21, 19-25, 15-13), at Auburn on Sunday in large part due to an outstanding performance from All-American Lisa Henning, who posted a career-best 27 kills with 13 digs. She had 71 attacks in the match and hit .310 in the win as she did it all for Mizzou on Sunday. With the win, the Tigers move to 15-6 overall and 7-4 in SEC play, keeping pace in a loaded SEC East.
"This was a huge win for our team," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "To come in and beat an RPI top-50 team on the road after losing the first set like we did speaks a lot about the character of this team. It was a pretty crazy match - we played very well at times and at other times we didn't. But in the end, we made enough plays to get out of here with a victory."
In a statistical anomaly, Mizzou is now undefeated on Sundays in SEC play while it remains winless on Fridays. Henning was the Tigers' go-to player, especially in the final four sets. Henning was quieted by Auburn's defense as she posted just two kills on .100 hitting in the first, but in the final four sets, she tallied 25 kills on .344 hitting. Sophomore Whitney Little supplied much of the other offense with 12 kills while junior setter Molly Kreklow finished just two kills shy of a triple double with eight on .500 hitting 42 assists and 10 digs. Sophomore libero Sarah Meister finished with a match-high 22 digs, including a match-saving one in the fifth set when Mizzou trailed 13-12.
Mizzou won the match despite being out-killed, out-dug and out-blocked by Auburn in one of the rare five-set wins. It is worth mentioning that freshman Lydia Ely had a decent match as well with four kills and three blocks, but her huge contribution to the match came in the fifth when she tallied back-to-back blocks to close out the match.
Mizzou jumped out to an early 6-4 lead in the first set, but it could have been more but a pair of net violations early gave two points to Auburn. From there, Auburn went on an 8-0 run to take a 12-6 lead and eventually opened a 19-11 lead. That was all that Auburn needed as it ran away with the first, 25-14, behind an efficient attack. In fact, Mizzou allowed Auburn to hit .395 with 17 kills while posting just nine kills on .143 hitting. Ely led the Tigers with three kills in the first set.
Mizzou seemed to regroup in between sets as it raced out to a 10-6 lead, playing much better all around. In fact, Mizzou played much better in every area of the game as it took the second set in convincing fashion, 25-16. Henning was nearly unstoppable for the Tigers with eight kills on just 15 swings. Mizzou had 18 kills on .400 hitting in the second set while Auburn had just 10 kills on .226 hitting.
After a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from Mizzou in the first set, Mizzou jumped out to an 18-13 lead in the third set, thanks in large part to 12 Auburn attack errors in the set. Auburn rallied late, pulling as close as two points, but Henning hit a left-handed cut shot to seal the set at 25-21, sending the match to the fourth with Mizzou on top. 2-1. Henning had five kills on 17 errorless attacks in the third and after having just two kills in the first set, Henning had 13 kills on 32 attacks with just one error, good for .375 hitting.
Mizzou didn't find Henning enough in the fourth, but ran out to a 14-12 lead. Then a questionable call that went in favor of Auburn sparked a run in which Auburn scored six of the next seven points to go on top, 18-15. That was all that Auburn needed to win the set, 25-18, sending the match to the fifth.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the fifth set. Auburn rallied to tie the set a 9-9 after trailing by two for much of the frame, but a huge kill from Little and then a block by Little and Kreklow gave Mizzou an 11-9 lead, forcing an Auburn timeout. Out of the timeout, Auburn got a kill in the middle, but Little again posted a big-time kill on the right-side slide to give Mizzou a 12-10 lead. But then Auburn rallied with two straight tip shots to tie the set at 12-12. After a Mizzou timeout, Auburn aced Jade Hayes to take a 13-12 lead. But Henning tallied a kill and then Ely and Emily Wilson teamed for a pair of blocks to end the set on a 3-0 run, taking the frame, 15-13.
Mizzou will return to the road on Wednesday for another nationally televised match at Georgia in another pivotal SEC showdown on ESPNU.