By Adam Busack
OMAHA — Twenty-six days after their last match and three days after they arrived in the bubble in Omaha, Nebraska, the Missouri Women’s Volleyball team was finally back in action this morning, picking up a decisive victory in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament.
If the Tigers had any rust on them from their extensive layoff following the conclusion of regular season play, it did not show today as the Tigers cruised to a victory over their opponents, the Coyotes of South Dakota, in straight sets, 25-21, 25-17 and 25-15 respectively. The Coyotes, victors of the Summit League, entered today at 15-6, 12-3 in conference play, but a relatively weak Summit League left them under prepared for a team with as much size and talent as Missouri boasts and were simply outclassed by the 25th ranked Tigers.
The 2019 All American and 2020 All SEC senior Kylie DeBerg lead the charge for the Tigers, as is so often the case, tallying 16 kills off a .481 hitting percentage over the three sets that this game spanned. Sophomore Anna Dixon followed closely behind with 11 kills of her own, five of which came in the first set. Redshirt Junior Setter Anna Fuentes tallied a match-high 39 assists.
Following today’s victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Tigers will move on to face ninth ranked Ohio State tomorrow morning at 11am. The Buckeyes, 15-3 overall out of the supremely talented Big Ten, have only dropped matches to fifth-seed Nebraska and seventh-seed Purdue on the year, so they will surely make a formidable opponent for the Tigers. Two of those matches have come in the last two matches played for the Buckeyes, however, March 26th and 27th against the aforementioned Boilermakers, which could breathe a bit of hope into the Tigers, who are winless in four matches against ranked opponents on the year but are riding on the heels of a five-match win streak.
Tomorrow’s Missouri versus Ohio State match will take place in the CHI Health Center in downtown Omaha and can be viewed, as well as all other NCAA tournament matches, on ESPN3.
Edited by Emma Moloney