By Lucas Owens
MU Volleyball came home this Sunday to face Kentucky in their SEC opener after a tough weekend in Waco, losing to both Baylor and Hawaii. The Tigers entered into this one off of a week of rest, while Kentucky entered off of a win against Mississippi State in their SEC opener
MU came out hot, catching Kentucky on their heels in the first set. However, Kentucky began to rebound and eventually came to tie the set and start keeping pace with the Tigers. This all culminated when the Wildcats tied MU 25-25, going into an advantage set of points. MU could have won the set at 25 but, in a controversial decision, Kylie Deberg’s block was ruled as over the net and Kentucky was awarded the point. MU took the first few advantages, but the Wildcats of Kentucky eventually took advantage and then won match point, 29-27.
The second set felt like deja vu, as MU again jumped out to an early lead before Kentucky came back. Paramount to the Tigers’ struggle were errors in this set, as they were called numerous times for being over the net and lost the set because of this. Kentucky did a great job of taking advantage of MU’s mistakes, and ended up also winning this set by two, this time 25-23.
MU, for the third time, took an early lead in this set but, again, Kentucky bounced back and eventually controlled the rest of the set, defending a late surge by MU and winning this set comfortably 25-21 to take a win in this match.
The day’s highlight for MU had to be junior Kylie Deberg, who was able to produce a 22-kill match despite the Tigers losing in three sets. The Tigers also did an exceptional job of digging the ball out and played exceptionally well on the long rallies they got into against Kentucky.
MU’s interim head coach Joshua Taylor commented on what the team experienced when facing such a tough opponent.
“They’re a good volleyball team, and we had to do well on some things we didn’t do well at Baylor,” Taylro said. “ I thought we looked pretty good in practice, so I’m a little confused why we struggled in the match, but [we got] more good feedback for this coming week.”
Andrea Fuentes had similar words for Kentucky in response to a question about what to take out of this game.
“I think they’re a great, competitive team and people think very highly of them, but at the same time I think we’re just as good as them,” Fuentes said.
However, much of what was focused on in interviews were errors, in particular the net errors in the second set.
“We just weren’t making good decisions and I think we were just trying to finish the match in one kill and you can’t do that,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said that the game will be the best teacher for the team going forward. Deberg agreed.
“Right now we’re a pretty emotional team, so we kind of go up and down, and right now we’re kind of going down when we get close to the end of the set, so we just got to pick that up and just go up when we’re at the end of the sets,” Deberg said.
On what to improve on for next week, Taylor said that the team needs to work on tip coverage, and that Kentucky “must have had fifteen kills tipping the ball over the block and we all watched it drop, so that’s something we should work on.” Taylor also said that the team needs to be tougher going into difficult situations.
Fuentes said that the team needs to work on working more as a unit, and “talk more in tough situations.” She also said that they need to work on errors, citing “small balls that can be considered brain farts. Those are the kinds of small balls we usually do really good with, and today was not there.”
MU faces LSU in Baton Rouge, LA this Wednesday before heading back to the Hearnes Center to face Texas A&M next weekend.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org