MU Volleyball rapidly approaches

tatum ailes

It’s one of the few MU sports that I still follow — Volleyball. We started going to the games about eight years ago, soon after we moved to Columbia. We’ve been hooked every since.

They started out as a mediocre team, but have evolved into a national powerhouse since the arrival of the husband/wife coaching team of Wayne & Susan Kreklow. They slipped a little last year, but came back strong in the end.

The picture above shows Tatum Ailes in one of her classic saves. She always makes Big 12 and might make All American this year.

Here’s a review of the team from a press release:

COLUMBIA, Mo.–With the first practice on the schedule tomorrow, the Missouri Volleyball team received word from the Big 12 this afternoon that they are predicted to finish third in the conference this season as picked by the coaches. In addition, the league’s coaches tabbed seniors Na Yang and Tatum Ailes with Preseason All-Big 12 honors. Ailes becomes the first defensive player or libero in the Big 12’s history to be named to the preseason list.

“I think it’s great for the program,” said Head Coach Wayne Kreklow. “I think for this time of the year it speaks well to our veterans and the newcomers adding to the program. But, it’s still on paper, and I always take these things with a grain of salt because we haven’t practiced or played yet. But it’s good to be recognized by the other coaches in the Big 12 and I’m happy for the players.”

Tatum Ailes (Bellevue, Neb.) returns for her senior campaign fresh from an appearance on Team USA’s A2-national training team this spring and returns to the team having been the Tigers’ starting libero for three seasons. Meanwhile, Ailes has already made a lasting impression on the Mizzou program as the squad’s all-time leader in digs (1,434) and digs per game (4.43). In 2005, the coaches of the Big 12 named Ailes as Libero of the Year.

Na Yang (Shan Dong, China) will also be in her senior season in 2007 and has an accomplished record from her previous three years at Mizzou. Yang has shown prowess during the regular season, but her numbers in the post-season are the outside-hitter’s bread-and-butter. In eight NCAA Tournament matches, Yang has averaged 4.10 kills per game on a .304 hitting percentage.

Mizzou finished the Big 12 season with an 11-9 mark in 2006 for sixth place, falling a match short of Iowa State and Colorado for a tie for fourth. Nebraska won their third-consecutive conference crown with a 19-1 Big 12 record and later won their third national title, finishing the season 33-1 with the lone loss coming at Colorado.

The Tigers are coming off a 2006 campaign that included a seventh-consecutive birth to the NCAA Tournament. As a result, Mizzou and Nebraska are now the only programs in the Big 12 Conference to have made the post-season every year since 2000.

Mizzou won their first-round matchup in the tournament for the third-straight year, knocking off No. 21 Santa Clara in a three-game sweep in Palo Alto, Calif. The Tigers forced eventual national runner-up Stanford to a five-game thriller in the second round on the Cardinal’s home floor, coming back from a game down and 16-10 deficit in the fourth stanza to produce a fifth-game.

Despite an 18-13 final record, the end-of-the-season surge produced a final AVCA Top 25 national-ranking, marking Mizzou’s third-straight year among the nation’s best. Only 15 teams have been sited on at least the last three final national polls.

Click here to visit the official home page of the MU Volleyball team. Go Tigers!!!


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