In order to move onto to face archrival Kansas, the Missouri volleyball team had to take down an in-state opponent first.
Despite dropping the first set and looking a little shaky, the Tigers had no problem with Missouri State in the NCAA Tournament first round at the Horejsi Center, winning in four sets 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 21-17.
“We came out tonight a bit slow, but I’m really pleased with how we fought back and played well the rest of the way,” Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said.
Mizzou was led by senior Regan Peltier with 14 kills. Sophomore Kira Larson had 12 kills of her own. Sophomore setter Courtney Eckenrode finished the match with 29 assists, and Carly Kan and Ali Kreklow racked up 14 digs each.
In the first set, the Bears took an early 10-5 lead thanks to a bunch of well-timed blocks that forced Missouri to take a timeout. The Tigers continued to battle with the Bears, but Missouri State was too much to overcome in the first set.
“During the first (set) we were very scattered and hectic,” Peltier said. “We just knew coming together after that first set we all needed to calm down. There was plenty of time left.”
After refocusing during the changeover, Mizzou eventually took control of the second set and won 25-22. The Tigers continued to show their strength by spiking several balls past the Bears.
“I thought we did a better job in the second, and we started to get better swings too,” Kreklow said.
In the third set, Missouri and Missouri State continued to stay within striking distance of each other, but the Tigers pulled away late.
After starting out fast in the fourth set, including an impressive block by Alyssa Munlyn to make it 6-2, it was clear that Missouri was in control.
The Tigers turn their attention to Kansas for another addition of the Border War. Kansas won its first-round match against Furman on Thursday in straight sets. MU will play KU at 6:30 on Friday.