Mizzou Volleyball Picked to Finish Fourth in SEC East
COLUMBIA -- The Mizzou volleyball program has been picked to finish fourth in the SEC East Division in 2012 as the SEC announced its annual preseason poll on Monday. The Tigers trail league-favorite Tennessee and finished just behind second-place Kentucky and third-place Florida. LSU was picked the finish the Western Division while Tennessee claimed 12 of the first-place votes in the preseason poll.
The Tigers open preseason practice this Wednesday at the Hearnes Center as they prepare for their inaugural season as members of the SEC. Mizzou returns all but one starter from a season ago, including third-team All-American outside hitter Lisa Henning and one of the nation's best setters in Molly Kreklow, who has twice been named All-Big 12 honorable mention. The Tigers also bring back All-Big 12 Freshman Team members Whitney Little and Emily Wilson. Little set the program-record for blocks in a single season as a freshman in 2011 with 138 while Wilson was the first Tiger freshman to post more than 300 kills in a season since 2006.
The Tigers also bring back starters Katie O'Brien, Sarah Meister and Jade Hayes to bolster the lineup as both saw a lot of playing time as freshmen in 2011. Hayes and Meister should challenge for the starting libero role in 2012. Mizzou also added the No. 9 recruit nationally in 2010 as outside hitter Taylor Simpson transferred into the program from Nebraska and is eligible to play immediately.
A pair of highly-touted freshmen will join this year's roster in 6-6 middle blocker Lydia Ely and 6-2 outside hitter Regan Peltier. Ely should help the loss of Brittney Brimmage to graduation as she is one of the tallest Tigers to ever enroll in the program while Peltier gives the Tigers an all-around player that can help at nearly every position on the floor. Mizzou will not have a senior on this year's team, which was the youngest team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in 2011.