Thursday, August 19, 2010

Volleyball Prepares for Black and Gold

The Black & Gold match will begin at 6:30 inside the Hearnes Center

Aug. 18, 2010

Match Info
Date: Friday, Aug. 20
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Hearnes Center

Game Notes: Complete Release in PDF Format

What You Need to Know
• Mizzou returns five of six starters from the 2010 roster that finished with its most wins (18) since the 2005 season. Those five seniors are outside hitter Paola Ampudia (Cali, Colombia), outside hitter Julianna Klein (Keota, Iowa), libero Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.), middle hitter Brittney Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) and Catie Wilson (Omaha, Neb.). Mizzou was picked fifth in the league by the Big 12 coaches.

• Ampudia put together one of the finest seasons in Mizzou history in 2009 and was rewarded by the league's coaches in the preseason as she was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.Over her last 16 matches of 2009, no one in the Big 12 had more kills than Ampudia.

• The Tigers open play on August 27 as they will host the Tiger Invitational all weekend at the Hearnes Center. Mizzou will play Maryland, Nevada and Utah Valley before hitting the road for two straight tournaments at Pepperdine and Western Kentucky.

• The Tigers' incoming freshmen comprised the nation's No. 14 overall recruiting class due in large part to Molly Kreklow (No. 20) and Lisa Henning (No. 50). The class was ranked No. 14 by, the nation's most renowned volleyball recruiting hub. Kreklow and Henning are expected to make an immediate impact on the team with the losses of Lei Wang-Francisco (setter) and Rosa Medrano (OH). Kreklow was named Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year by the league's coaches this summer.

This Season
The Tigers are coming off of an 18-14 season in 2009 that likely left them one win shy of qualifying for their ninth NCAA Tournament in the last 10 seasons. Despite not qualifying, there were still plenty of positives for the Tigers as the 18 wins were the most by any Tiger team since 2005. A talented corps of players return to the floor this season, including five of six starters from a season ago and nine letterwinners. Also, the Tigers brought in the No. 14 overall recruiting class to help propel the Tigers back towards the top of the Big 12 and their ninth NCAA Tournament berth. Mizzou was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 by the league coaches, just two points shy of No. 2 Oklahoma.

Production Returns
With five of six starters back, it is no surprise that the Tigers return the majority of their point production from a season ago. In fact, 76-percent of the total point production from a season ago returns to the floor in 2010 as does 75-perecent of the total defense (digs and blocks). The only three losses for the Tigers are four-year setter Lei Wang-Francisco and middle hitter Amanda Hantouli, who both have graduated from Mizzou. Also, Rosa Medrano exhausted her collegiate eligibility and will not compete with the team this season.

But either way, Mizzou returns its top three attackers - Paola Ampudia, Julianna Klein and Catie Wilson - along with a talented back row that is anchored by libero Caitlyn Vann, who has started the last 52 Tiger matches. Also returning to the floor in 2010 are middle hitters Weiwen Wang and Brittney Brimmage who each finished with 106 kills in 2009. Brimmage finished second on the team with a .303 attack percentage.

Paola Ampudia for All-American
Of the 76-percent of offense that returns to the floor in 2010, a big bulk of that was provided by Paola Ampudia, who enters the 2010 season as one of the favorites for Big 12 Player of the Year and All-America first team honors. Ampudia used a torrid second half of the 2009 season to make her a household name last season. In fact, she had more kills in her last 16 matches than any other player in the league and shattered three school records and the Big 12 record for kills in a four-set match with her 35 in a win at Kansas last season. Ampudia hopes to continue that pace all season as she looks to become a nationally recognized name.

Ampudia was a first team All-Big 12 selection last season and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. She led the Tigers in kills (410) and points (463.0) and had 281 kills over her final 16 matches (nearly 18 per contest), more than anyone in the conference, including National Player of the Year Runner-Up Destinee Hooker of Texas. She was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week four times and was awarded Big 12 Player of the Week after her 35-kill explosion against Kansas. She also finished second to Hooker in both kills per set and points per set in the Big 12 during league play.

She has a proven pedigree as well after being named NJCAA National Player of the Year before coming to Mizzou. Last Thursday (Aug. 12), Ampudia was named to the All-Big 12 Preseason First Team, which was selected by the Big 12 coaches. She was also honored by Cobra Magazine as an All-Preseason First Team selection as well.

Kreklow earns Big 12 Freshman of the Year
Freshman setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) brought with her plenty of accolades when she arrived on campus in January, but she added another in the preseason as the Big 12 coaches named Kreklow the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year. Expected to take over the starting setting role this season, Kreklow is a two-time AAU All-American, an AVCA/Under Armour All-American and a three-time AAU National Champion with Mizuno Northern Lights. What is impressive about her nod is that a pair of Texas signees - Ashley Bannister (No. 12) and Hannah Allison (No. 9) - ranked ahead of Kreklow (No. 20) on the Senior Aces list.

Vann Approaches Mizzou History
Senior libero Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.) has complied 1,360 digs in her first three seasons as a Tiger, good enough for third-most all time. She sits just 12 digs shy of Shen Danru's second-place mark and 645 back of Tatum Ailes' first-place mark. Vann will likely pass Danru in one of the Tigers' first two matches, but the question remains - how close can she get to Ailes' 2,017 career digs? Keep in mind that Ailes played during 30-point sets while the last three years of Vann's career were played with 25-point sets. Should the scoring never have changed, we could potentially be looking at Mizzou's all-time digs leader.

Catie Wilson Hits Her Way Into Record Books
Senior middle hitter Catie Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) enters the 2010 season as the seventh-most efficient hitter in program history with a .279 clip. Her .324 attack percentage in 2009 is a large reason for her jump up the list. In fact, heading into the 2009 campaign, Wilson was hitting just .235. But she posted more kills (220) in 2009 that her first two season combined and did it on less errors (54 in 2009, 69 from 2007-08). Another season like that in 2010 and Wilson should rank as one of the elite hitters in program history.

Big Things Expected for Brit
Aside from Wilson, the Tigers also expect big things in the middle of the net from junior Brittney Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) as she looks poised for a break-out season. Cobra Magazine selected her to the national All-Preseason third team this summer as a fine spring season has the rest of the nation talking about her ability. Brimmage is one of the most athletically gifted players on the Tiger roster as she possesses great leaping ability, but she has only been playing organized volleyball for a short time. With two full collegiate years under her belt, the Mizzou coaches expect big things from the junior in 2010.

2010 Freshman Class Earns Praise
Despite having five seniors and two juniors on the 2010 roster, the Mizzou volleyball program will have plenty of fresh faces on the floor in 2010. Aside from Kreklow, who comes to Mizzou as the No. 20 overall prospect in the nation, the Tigers add Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.), Paige Buchanan (Manchester, Mo.) and Ahston Bodenstab (Blue Springs, Mo.). Henning is the No. 50 overall national recruit and will likely make an immediate impact at the outside hitter position. Buchanan and Bodensatb will also bolster the back row as both are defensive specialists. The four freshmen comprised the No. 14 overall recruiting class according the The only Big 12 team to rank ahead of Mizzou in the rankings was Texas.

Klein Plays in Brazil
Senior outside hitter Julianna Klein (Keota, Iowa) spent 10 days of her summer playing with the Bring-It Promotions/USA Developmental Volleyball tour in Brazil. She, along with 11 of the top collegiate players in the nation, played against some of Brazil's top national teams while taking in the sights that the country has to offer. The program is to help line up professional careers for volleyball players after college by providing international experience. It also serves as a pipeline for USA Volleyball and all of those who may be interested in playing for Team USA after college.

Kreklow Sets for Junior National Team
Klein wasn't the only Tiger to spend a portion of her summer south of the American border. Kreklow spent a week in Tijuana, Mexico, as a member of the USA Volleyball Junior National Team at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NORCECA) Continental Championships. Kreklow was the team's starting setter and helped Team USA to a perfect 5-0 record while starting four of the five matches. She also dished out a team-high 61 assists in the tournament. The spot on the Junior National Team was her second stint with USA Volleyball as she also set for the Youth National Team last summer. Kreklow was the only player on the roster to boast collegiate experience after enrolling in classes back in January.

Henning Guides Club to Junior Nationals
Freshman Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) led her KC Extreme Club Team to a Junior Olympic Northeast Qualifier title after winning 10 matches during Easter weekend in Baltimore, Md. The title secured her club a spot in the Junior National Championships. Henning, a 6-1 outside hitter, was KC Extreme's go-to player throughout the tournament as her play was paramount in guiding the team to a National Championship berth. What was even more impressive is that the team had already secured a bid to the tournament, but battled back to beat a very talented Encinitas Wave - a club team based out of San Diego, Calif. - to earn the tournament title. The Wave, led by UCLA signee Kelly Reeves, claimed the first set in the match, but Henning and KC Extreme won each of the final two sets to win top honors at the tournament.

Vann Tries Out for US National Team
Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.) recently tried out for the USA Volleyball National Team in Colorado Springs, Colo., and participated with some of the nation's elite talent. On hand were national team coaches Hugh McCutcheon and Karch Kiraly along with the entire USA Volleyball staff, making it a great experience for the tiger libero.

"I thought it would be a good opportunity and I wanted to see where I stood nationally for my position. And it's good for networking and experience. I'm looking to go pro after college and it's already really difficult for my position, so knowing the national team coach and talking to all the different coaches is good networking. The more people you know the farther you can go."

Bodenstab Makes the Transition
Last season, freshman Ashton Bodenstab (Blue Springs, Mo.) competed with the Mizzou track and field program before making the transition to volleyball this season. Bodenstab was training in the combined events under Mizzou assistant coach Dan Lefever. But she specialized in volleyball during high school and when the opportunity presented itself to walk onto Mizzou's team, she did just that. She was an All-State, All-District and All-Area selection in 2008 before coming to Mizzou in 2009.

Tigers Build New Team Room
The Tigers got a surprise when they came to the team's first official practice last Monday as the coaching staff spent the summer designing a new team room. The room, which sits across the hall from the current volleyball locker room in the old Hearnes Center interview room, features a sitting area with leather couches, work space for student-athletes to study and a brand new home entertainment center.

Volleyball - Tiger Cup Winners
After spending countless hours in the community last season, the Mizzou volleyball team was awarded the Tiger Cup Trophy. The Tiger Cup recognizes the Mizzou team that earned the most overall points in the team competition. Points were awarded for achievement in academics, athletics and for community involvement. Awarded a prize of $3,000, the volleyball players stayed true to their commitment to the community and immediately donated their entire prize to the Mid-Missouri Susan G. Komen Foundation, which raises funds for Breast Cancer Awareness.

The Tiger volleyball team earned points in a variety of ways, specifically with high performance in the classroom and on the court, but it was the Tigers' dedication to the community that set them apart from the other Tiger programs. In the fall, Mizzou spent time donating holiday cookies to senior citizens at retirement communities throughout the Mid-Missouri community. The team also spent the spring semester doing the same with bags of jellybeans, hoping to spread a little spring cheer.

Also, the volleyball team hosted a Haitian Relief Tournament earlier this year that benefited the American Red Cross and its Haitian earthquake relief funds. During that event, the team raised more than $1,000 for the relief efforts as the team spent countless hours at the Hearnes Center collecting donations and helping teach the game of volleyball to area youngsters.

During the fall, Mizzou Volleyball also hosted several youth clinics, visited elementary schools for before- school clinics, held a Girl Scout clinic at the Hearnes Center Field House, visited the MU Children's Hospital and provided community service in a variety of other ways during their competitive schedule. The Tigers even took time host a local youngster's birthday party prior to their five-set, comeback win over Texas A&M at the Hearnes Center.

Mizzou also excelled in the classroom, posting a combined 3.11 cumulative grade-point-average. In addition, six Tigers earned Academic All-Big 12 honors last season, adding to their success as student-athletes. Currently, nine Mizzou volleyball players have a GPA that is better than a 3.00.

Competitively, Mizzou earned Tiger cup points in large part thanks to Paola Ampudia (Cali, Colombia) who was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and was honored as the league's Preseason and Postseason Newcomer of the Year. Each of those honors earned the program points in the Tiger Cup competition.

Follow Mizzou on Twitter
Mizzou volleyball has started its own Twitter page. Be sure to follow the Tigers all season long at The site will be updated all year long with updates on the team and special insight into what it is like to be a member of the Mizzou volleyball team. Check back all season for updates.

Tiger Volleyball on the Radio
The Mizzou volleyball team will have each of its home and its Big 12 road matches live on the radio at all season long. At home, the live broadcasts will be streamed with live video on Mizzou All-Access. Also, video updates and highlights from the Tigers' road trips will be posted on all season long.

The Mizzou VolleyBlog
The Mizzou VolleyBlog will be back in 2010 and will offer live updates from each Tiger matches. It will also offer exclusive video and student-athlete and coach interviews throughout the season.

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