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University of Missouri

Proving Something

Mizzou volleyball’s 35-1 season was one of the best in Tigers history.

2013 Mizzou Volleyball SEC Champions

The Mizzou volleyball team defeated Mississippi State to clinch the school’s first-ever SEC title Nov. 22, 2013, in front of a record crowd of 7,879 at the Hearnes Center. From left, juniors Sarah Meister and Whitney Little cheer, seniors Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning lift the trophy, and Coach Wayne Kreklow thanks the fans. Photo by Ben Walton.

Passion for Mizzou volleyball was nearing its pinnacle Nov. 22, 2013, inside the Hearnes Center as setter Molly Kreklow expertly framed the ball for outside hitter Lisa Henning’s thunderous spike. The senior duo punctuated the undefeated Tigers’ 32nd consecutive win and first Southeastern Conference title in school history when it ricocheted off Mississippi State’s side of the court.

It wasn’t long before tears of joy began trickling down the athletes’ faces like the confetti cascading from the rafters.

Led by Coach Wayne Kreklow, M Ed ’97, and the aforementioned All-American tandem, Missouri went on to finish the regular season 34-0 and host two rounds of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed. Although the magic run ended with a heartbreaking 3-1 loss to Purdue in round two Dec. 7, the Tigers ignited volleyball enthusiasm throughout the Show-Me State.

Mizzou (35-1, 18-0 SEC) entered the season picked to finish third in the SEC East preseason poll. Molly Kreklow, who capped her stellar career with the SEC Player of the Year award, came up with the season’s motto, “Something to Prove.”

“The STP thing really caught fire, for our program and kind of Mizzou in general,” says Kreklow of the catchphrase that appeared on posters, wristbands and Twitter. “It’s easier to work hard when you genuinely care about your teammates and you want to see them do well.”

Missouri posted home-and-away sweeps of Kentucky and Florida — the teams picked to finish first and second in the SEC East Division — and Fox Sports Midwest aired the second match Nov. 15 between the No. 7 Tigers and No. 5 Gators in Gainesville.

Although Henning and Kreklow graduate with a 97-37 record, the most successful four-year stretch in Mizzou volleyball history, the future remains bright for Mizzou. Junior middle blocker Whitney Little earned All-SEC honors, outside hitter Carly Kan won the SEC Freshman of the Year award, and both made the All-American honorable mention list. According to SEC Coach of the Year Wayne Kreklow, roster depth played a key role in the Tigers’ success.

“Because of that competition everyday in practice, the overall quality of what we do has gone way up,” says Wayne Kreklow. “We want to establish ourselves as a program that competes for that title year in and year out.”