Undefeated Missouri received the No. 4 overall seed for the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament, which begins later this week at 16 on-campus sites across the country.
It’s the highest seed the Tigers have ever received and pegs head coach Wayne Kreklow’s squad as a Final Four favorite.
“To get a four seed is certainly something we’re really happy about,” Kreklow said. “It’s quite an honor to be in that position at this point in the year.”
At the same time, Kreklow said Missouri must guard against getting rattled. Earning such a high seed is a great milestone, but ultimately the Tigers want to achieve more — much more.
“Sometimes you’re fighting human nature, but they were incredibly focused throughout the entire season and I still think that they still are,” Kreklow said.
Dealing with the adoration Missouri has received since winning the SEC title and clinching an unbeaten regular season, including on-field recognition during the football team’s win against Texas A, is the immediate challenge.
Kreklow said he suspects seniors Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning, who “are focused on making this last as long as we possibly can,” won’t be distracted and that the rest of the team will follow that lead.
Missouri, which is 14-0 against teams that made the NCAA field, was the No. 10 seed in the 2005 tourney and No. 16 in 2004.
The Tigers, 34-0, open tourney play at 6:30 p.m. Friday against IUPUI at the Hearnes Center. Purdue and Central Arkansas are the other two teams grouped with Missouri.
The first-round winners will play for a spot in the Sweet 16 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hearnes Center.
Missouri, which is ranked fourth by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, is in the Champaign, Ill., regional along with SEC rival Florida, which is the No. 5 seed overall.
Illinois, which is the 13th overall seed, also is in that regional. Both teams could present considerable obstacles in the quest to reach the Final Four, which begins Dec. 19 in Seattle.
Texas, 23-2, which is ranked first in the national poll, is the No. 1 overall seed. Penn State is the No. 2 overall seed.
To see the complete bracket,visit the NCAA website.