Getting up again
Mizzou volleyball team will be singing when they're winning
Senior outside hitter Julianna Klein, better known to her team as Jules, gets low to keep the play going. The Tigers are trying to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
After winning the Pepperdine Invitational in early September, the women’s volleyball team packed into a van and cranked up the radio to celebrate. They were 6-0 and feeling invincible, so to party, they put on ’90s music.
On the satellite channel ’90s on 9 came the chart-topper “Tubthumping,” an inescapable earworm by the whimsically named band Chumbawumba. It was impossible to stay quiet.
“As we’re singing along, we were like, ‘Guys, this is the worst song ever made,’” senior outside hitter Julianna (Jules) Klein says. “But we know every word! Why are we belting this out?”
Since knocking off Pepperdine, the Tigers have had occasional struggles. Consistency has been a killer, though Mizzou is 11-5 overall with a 3-3 record in Big 12 play. That puts the Tigers right in the middle of the nation’s toughest conference.
The "Tubthumping" chorus contains these motivating lyrics: “I get knocked down, but I get up again.” It’s a philosophy the Tigers have unofficially adopted: When down, the players help one another to get back up.
Team support is part of the family environment that encompasses all aspects of MU volleyball.
“It’s been kind of a characteristic of our program for a few years now,” coach Wayne Kreklow says. “We don’t actively cultivate it, but we definitely encourage it in all that we do.”
Part of the cohesiveness stems from the familial roots that run through the program. Wayne’s wife, Susan, is also a coach on the team, and this year their niece Molly joined them at Mizzou as a setter. Coming from Minnesota, she had never played for Mizzou before. But going into the season, she knew she’d have to earn her teammates’ full respect.
“I knew I needed to establish a relationship with each and every person,” Molly says. “Every once in a while, I’ll get a comment like ‘your uncle…’ but I know they’re just kidding."
Klein says that she and the rest of the team see her as just another teammate.
“We don’t really think about it like that,” Klein says. “If anything, maybe he’s a little harder on her because he has higher expectations for her.”
Family to the Kreklows doesn’t stop with blood relations. It extends to every member of what many people involved refer to as the “Mizzou volleyball family.”
“The way they have their family translates over into the way they treat us,” Klein says. “They bend over backwards to help us or do whatever they can so we can become the best student, the best athlete, the best person we can be.”
Home team advantage
Coach Wayne Kreklow gives advice and guidance during a break at the Texas match. The Tigers broke from the traditional black and gold to help raise awareness about breast cancer.
With the league’s last undefeated team, Nebraska, coming to town Oct. 6, Mizzou players know difficult moments lie ahead. The Tigers need to rely on more than just themselves and the coaching staff; they need the full help of a raucous Hearnes Center crowd.
The VolleyZou student section leads chants during the match. The student-section clamor includes cheers of “She’s No. 1!” when Molly Kreklow serves (reflecting both her actual uniform number and her setting skills) and the sound of a shotgun being cocked and fired each time Klein serves.
“We have such a great crowd on a regular basis that we want them to be engaged and have fun with us,” Klein says. “So maybe on the court we’ll scream a little more or try for a big play because it’s such an advantage for us.”
After making the NCAA tournament every year from 2000 to 2007, the Tigers have come up just short the past two years. A win over the Huskers would greatly aid Mizzou’s odds of getting back to the postseason. But even if they can’t knock off the nation’s No. 3 team, the Tigers will regroup and come back strong because as Chumbawumba says, “You’re never going to keep [them] down."
Guide to scoring
Going to your first game? No problem! Here’s a quick guide to how scoring works.
To win a match, a team must be the first to win three sets. Sets are played to 25 points and require a two-point win. Either team can score on any play, no matter which team serves. And as a home rule, you have to cheer “Point Mizzou!” whenever the Tigers score! Enjoy the game!