Eleanor Sheahan – 23 Sports

The Missouri Tigers rolled down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the 2020 SEC Volleyball season opener. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 season start was delayed. Finally, after months of waiting, the Tigers were able to return to the court and served into the new season. 

With a strong performance last second and even bigger expectations their year, the Missouri Tigers are currently ranked 7th. Returning this season, seniors Dariana Hollingsworth, Leketor Member-Meneh, Kylie Deberg and Tyanna Omazic are ranked #1 in the SEC against other senior classes. Outside hitter Kylie Deberg and middle blocker Tyanna Omazic have been recently announced as All-Southeastern Conference Team for 2020 Preseason Volleyball. The Tigers are a dangerous close-knit team. 

On top of the veteran players, Missouri added three new talents to their roster. Transfer students Anna D’cruz and Anna Dixon, and freshman Emily Brown joined the Tigers this fall. The trio provides fresh skills to both the defense and offensive sides of the game.  

The Tigers beat Alabama in both home and away matches last season. Heading into game one, Missouri looked to extend their seven-match winning streak against the Crimson Tide. 

The Tigers maintained a three-to-five-point lead throughout most of set one. Two great offensive plays from the back row, one by Deberg as she smashed a huge back row attack to increase the tigers lead 15-10. Another one from Member-Meneh allowed the Tigers to go up 19-16 over Alabama. Deberg and Omazic created a wall at the net with a monstrous block putting the Tigers at game point. Mizzou took set one, 25-22. 

Thanks to set one, the Tigers were all warmed up and had the momentum on their side. In set two, Omazic dominated the floor. Omazic not only had deadly kills, but she also shut down Alabama’s offense with her fearful blocks. Missouri stepped over Alabama, 25-19. 

Going into set three, down 2-0, the pressure was on Alabama. An early lead allowed Alabama to take control of this set. The Tigers in reach of taking the lead were only down 14-15. Sifting the tides, Alabama went on a scoring run. Missouri scored only three points to Alabama’s ten! The Crimson Tide took set three, 25-17. 

One set win away for Alabama to push this into a five-set match, meanwhile, the Tigers only needed one more set to win the game! Behind 19-21 Missouri fought vigorously to tie the game 26 all. You guessed it, an outside kill from Deberg made it match point for Missouri. Right side hitter Dixon crushed the ball into the center court on Alabama’s side, the Tigers won the match, 28-26! 

In four sets, the Missouri Tigers were victorious over Alabama 3-1. Deberg also had accomplishments of her own; 22 kills, six blocks, six digs and one ace is certainly an impressive performance. A whopping 22 kills in the match carried Debergs total career kills to over 1,000, a huge accomplishment for the senior outside hitter. 

Another top Tiger in the game was setter Andrea Fuentes, who had not only 39 assists but 14 digs as well. Meanwhile, wearing the libero jersey, Brown made her freshman debut! Brown had 19 digs, five assists and one ace, making her first game as a Tiger quite a success! 

The Tigers had great fortune on night one in Tuscaloosa. The second and final game of the series will take place, Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:30pm.

About Smith, Kayler (MU-Student)

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