Straight-sets win sends Tigers to second round of NCAA tournament

Missourian staff

Missouri volleyball cruised through the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday, defeating South Dakota in straight sets (25-21, 25-17, 25-15).

The 25th-ranked Tigers entered the tournament with a 15-7 season record, similar to the Coyotes’ 15-6. The regular-season records proved to be no indication of what was to come as Missouri began in dominant fashion, and despite periods of South Dakota resolve, kept it up to progress to the second round in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Tigers applied all of the early pressure and jumped out to a 12-3 lead, but South Dakota went on a large run of its own to tie the game at 17.

The setback was temporary, as Missouri took eight of the next 12 points to secure the set and the early lead.

Through Elizabeth Juhnke’s strength on both offense and defense, South Dakota got off to the better start in the second set. But it was unable to pull away from the Tigers, setting up a back-and-forth between the two teams for much of the duration.

The Coyotes held a slight advantage throughout, but no team had held more than a three-point lead. That was until the Tigers went on a 6-0 run to take a foothold of the set. Kylie Deberg provided the firepower it needed to get through the remainder, putting up three kills in Missouri’s final six points.

And with this set-winning 12-2 run, South Dakota’s fire went out.

Claudia Dillon and Anna Dixon had two kills apiece in the early stages of the third set, as the Tigers charged to a 7-2 lead. The Coyotes couldn’t rally this time, and Missouri pushed on for a 25-15 win to close out the match.

Deberg, a three-time All-SEC honoree, led the Tigers in kills with 16. As a unit, the Tigers put up 47 kills to South Dakota’s 28 and recorded a hitting percentage of .347, as compared to the Coyotes’ .126.

Missouri’s win sets up a second-round match against No. 9 Ohio State at 11 a.m. Thursday.