By Lucas Owens
Missouri Volleyball faced off against the Northern Iowa Panthers Friday, September 13, for the second game of the Mizzou Invitational. After the Tigers beat Austin Peay earlier in the day, they were looking for their second win of the tournament and to continue their undefeated season.
Missouri came out very strong in the first set, jumping to a 6-1 lead before the first timeout taken by Northern Iowa. UNI then came back strong, narrowing the lead to just two points. The Panthers were held together in the first set by their plays on strong rallies, which served as a strong difference maker for UNI in comparison to Mizzou’s strength, which was their ability to spike balls incredibly hard at Northern Iowa. Mizzou, however, ended up coming away with a close first set, 25-22.
The second set was the opposite of the first, as Northern Iowa was the one coming out swinging and Missouri taking more of a backseat. Mizzou was able to come back though, and evened the game at 12-12. Northern Iowa took over from there and went on a run to win the set 25-22.
With Northern Iowa winning the second set, Mizzou found themselves in an unusual spot, as they were tied with the Panthers and their momentum completely gone. Luckily for the Tigers, junior Kylie Deberg and sophomore Andrea Fuentes put the Tigers on their back and ended up winning the third set 25-17. The Tigers kept up their momentum through the fourth, winning the fourth set, and the game, 25-14.
After the match, I was able to catch up with Mizzou coach Joshua Taylor, redshirt sophomore Andrea Fuentes and junior Tyanna Omazic. On the subject of why Northern Iowa was such a tough opponent, Taylor had this to say: “They were siding out pretty well…I also thought they were insistent a decent amount of the time. So, putting a lot of pressure on our defense and we probably weren’t point scoring as much as we liked.”
On the work ethic of his team, he said that they are “embracing the suck.” This showed throughout the game, as the Tigers were able to last longer through all four sets and really dominate towards the end of the game when other teams would normally get more tired. Looking forward to the next game, Taylor said that he wants to “take care of the small balls a little bit better” and “continue to focus on not letting other teams score off of our block.” Similarly, Omazic said that the team is going to look on keeping their same mentality and “keep their high hands.”
After Coach Taylor’s interview, Fuentes and Omazic also met with the media. On how the Tigers came out late in the fourth set, Fuentes said that they wanted to close it in four sets because “when you have, anything can happen.” Omazic, on Fuentes’ amazing 40-assist performance, said that Fuentes “just has a great IQ of the game. She doesn’t need to look on the other side, she already knows if one player has two blocks up and, like I said, she just does a good job of making sure each attacker is getting just as many attempts and having a good one-on-one situation.”
The Tigers next play on September 20 in the Baylor Classic.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org