By: Ben Burke
The Missouri volleyball team took another step at legitimizing itself as a possible top-25 team Sunday after beating No. 21 Kentucky 3-2.
Before Sunday’s match, the Tigers had yet to play a top-25 in conference play. In their only nonconference matchup against a top-25 team, Missouri lost 3-0 to BYU.
Senior Emily Thater played a big role in the Tigers jumping out to a 2-0 set lead over the Wildcats. Thater led all players in hitting percentage at .524 on 14 kills, and added six blocks.
After Kentucky came back with two set wins of their own, senior Carly Kan and redshirt junior Kira Larson led the charge to take the decisive set 15-12.
Kan had another double double, leading the Tigers with 17 kills and 17 digs, and Larson added 11 kills and three blocks.
In the first set, Mizzou jumped out to a 20-11 lead, thanks in part to four kills and three blocks from Thater.
After the Wildcats then went on a 10-4 run, Thater closed the set with a kill to give the Tigers a 25-21 set win.
The second set was back and forth throughout, with Missouri having to save two set points to tie things up at 24.
One of those set points saved was off a service error from Kentucky’s McKenzie Watson. The Wildcats didn’t do themselves any favors in this department, with nine service errors on the match.
With the set tied at 26 apiece, Larson came up big with a kill and a block to put Mizzou within a set of keeping its undefeated conference record alive.
After the halftime break, Kentucky looked more like the No. 21 team in the country that it is, hitting .375 en route to a third set win, 25-16.
The fourth set featured ugly play on both sides, as both teams hit less than .100. The Wildcats just barely got the best of the Tigers in the set, pushing the match to five with a 25-22 win.
The fifth set looked very similar to the first set, with Missouri jumping out to a quick lead, and holding it for the rest of the set.
Kan looked especially impressive in the final set, with five kills and a block.
With the win, Mizzou improves to 18-3 on the season. The Tigers’ next matchup is on the road Wednesday, Oct. 30 against Texas A&M.