By Adam Busack
OMAHA — The University of Missouri Women’s Volleyball team was eliminated from the 2021 NCAA Tournament today following a second-round loss to ninth-ranked Ohio State in straight sets.
The Tigers were swept for just the third time this season, losing each set 25-17, 25-20, and 25-21, respectively. Both previous sweeps also came away from the Hearnes Center, once in Knoxville against the Lady Volunteers of Tennessee on February 13th and in Gainesville against the then-seventh ranked Florida Gators. This sweep was the first game of the NCAA Tournament for Ohio State, who earned a first round bye. The Missouri Tigers defeated the University of South Dakota in straight sets yesterday to earn the chance to play the Buckeyes.
In a fitting end to her illustrious career as a Missouri Tiger, All-American Senior Kylie DeBerg led both teams in the kills column today with 17. No other Tiger tallied double digits. The Buckeyes, comparatively, had three players reach double digit kills in the three-set affair. DeBerg will go on to play Beach Volleyball for Louisiana State next spring as a graduate transfer.
Outside of DeBerg, the Tigers were simply outplayed by the extremely talented Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes’ big three trio of Freshman hitter Emily Londot, Sophomore hitter Gabby Gonzales and Freshman middle blocker Rylee Radar each managed double digit kills on the backs of 31 assist game by Sophomore setter Mac Podraza. Missouri’s setter, Redshirt Junior Andrea Fuentes, only managed 26 in what would be her final game as a Tiger as well.
Six of the eleven Missouri Tigers that dressed for today’s match also played their final match as a Tiger today. Redshirt Junior setter Jaden Newsome, Sophomore hitter Kenna Sauer, and Senior hitter Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana have joined the aforementioned Fuentes in the transfer portal, and Sophomore middle blocker Claudia Dillon is expected to enter the portal in the coming days. Kylie DeBerg, as mentioned before, had previously announced plans to play beach volleyball for the Louisiana State Tigers next year. These departures follow the lead of Junior Hitter Leketor Member-Meneh, who opted out of the season in December and subsequently transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in anticipation of next season.
Head coach Josh Taylor’s 2022 Missouri Tigers will feature plenty of new faces, headlined by incoming freshmen hitter Kaylee Cox and defensive specialist Lauren Forbes. Taylor will attempt to return to the NCAA Tournament in what would potentially be his third time in his first three seasons as head coach of the team.
Edited by Emma Moloney