Coach Wayne Kreklow was hoping for a strong performance Friday from his Missouri volleyball team.
Well, his No. 24 Tigers hit a blistering .412 en route to a 25-17, 25-22, 25-18 sweep of No. 23 Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at the Devaney Sports Center.
Mizzou, which reached the Sweet 16 a season ago, showcased its balance on offense. Dariana Hollingsworth had 11 kills, Kylie Deberg had 11 kills and senior middle blocker Alyssa Munlyn cranked out 10 kills on just 12 swings.
"I thought we played really well," Kreklow said. "I thought this was one of our better matches of the season, and it was a good time for it, because I knew we were going to need it. I thought offensively we were really good in transition."
The Tigers now play Nebraska, who swept Hofstra, in Saturday's second-round match set for 7 p.m.
Missouri (24-7) hit .375 in the first set, .438 in the second and .443 in the third. The Tigers trailed 17-13 in the second set before winning 12 of the next 17 rallies. Arizona (22-11) was never able to recover in the third set.
"I think they came up in Game 2 and we were hitting at high percentage, (and) I'm sure they talked about toughening up their serve," Kreklow said of the Wildcats' 17-13 lead. "We weren't pass quite as well, we made a few unforced errors, we missed a couple serves and kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. I thought we kind of settled in and started passing better. Started to manage our side of the net a little more."
Missouri now prepares for what will likely be its toughest challenge of the season, and it will come in front of a packed house.
Munlyn said the Tigers will embrace the atmosphere.
"It's kind of like playing at home, it's nice to have people around you," she said. "Our fans showed up tonight and that was really important for us."
Paige Whipple led Arizona with 11 kills.