Whitney Little, Tigers block out Georgia

Whitney Little tied a school record in the Tigers’ 3-0 win.

Research by Jacob Bogage. Graphic by Heather Finn/THE MANEATER STAFF
Research by Jacob Bogage. Graphic by Heather Finn/THE MANEATER STAFF

If the Georgia Bulldogs got a tongue-lashing after their first set against the Missouri volleyball team Sunday, the Tigers certainly had something to do with it.

Georgia hit -.079 (yes, negative .079) in the match’s first frame as the Tigers registered five blocks and 14 digs. Georgia swung 38 times in the set, and 13 of those sailed out of bounds or didn’t make it to Missouri’s side of the court.

“I thought our blocking really picked up a little bit,” coach Wayne Kreklow said. “I thought that was a big factor. … (It) opened up a gap that our kids took advantage of.”

Missouri took the first set 25-10, aided by 16 Georgia errors, but things improved for the Bulldogs in the next game.

Georgia erased an early Missouri advantage to take a 22-21 lead, but the Tiger frontline spurned the Georgia comeback. After a Georgia attack error tied the game at 22, junior setter Molly Kreklow and sophomore blocker Whitney Little teamed up to stuff the Bulldogs’ Tirah Le’au, giving the Tigers a one-point lead.

The teams traded points the next two serves until Molly Kreklow and Little double-blocked Le’au again on set point.

“I think a lot of times kids start making hitting errors if they get blocked or get dug a few times,” Wayne Kreklow said. “Some kids overplay, and they try to do too much with too little. Some hitters get a little bit tentative, and they freeze up a little bit. I think the blocking had a lot to do with a lot of the hitting errors they had. … When things aren’t going well, you lose concentration.”

The Tigers took full control in the third set, using 12 Georgia errors to put away the 8-6 Bulldogs.

With the game tied at five, sophomore defensive specialist Niki Collier stepped to the service line and served eight straight points for Missouri, four of them being blocks involving Little and another three kills by the 6-foot-3-inch Little on slides.

The Keller, Texas, native tied a school record set by Christi Myers for matches with 10 blocks in a career with four.

“We’ve been working on blocking a lot in practice,” Little said. “We have been ever since we started practicing, so it’s nice to see that it’s working.”

Junior hitter Lisa Henning joined two of Little’s blocks in the third set as Missouri held Georgia to -.107 hitting in the frame.

“I think everybody just reads really well,” Henning said, referencing her teammates’ ability to recognize sets on the move. “I think our team is really good at reading. We watched so much film and everyone was so in-key on what they were doing. And we served tough, so we knew what they were going to do, so it’s easy to get two blockers up.”



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