The Cardinals improve to 30-2 and notch their 22nd straight win with the 30-26, 22-30,. 30-25, 30-25 win. Missouri ends its season at 20-9. The Cardinals advance to the Louisville regional and will play in the Kentucky International Convention Center Dec. 10-11.
"The key for both teams was serve receive and the first touch, that let the teams get into their offenses. Good passing was the biggest factor," said Leonid Yelin, U of L head coach.
In the first game, U of L popped out to a 8-1 lead and forced an early Missouri timeout. The Cardinals continued to build their lead to eight at 20-12 and the Tigers used their second timeout to try to chill the Cardinal attack. Missouri pulled to within five at 26-21 on two straight kills by Shen Danru. Yelin called timeout before U of L battled to game point at 29-24 on a Bing Sun kill. Danru had two more kills before a service error by the Tigers ended the game at 30-26. U of L hit .353 to Missouri's .239 and had 4.5 team blocks.
In the second game, Missouri used aggressive serving to keep Louisville back on its heels. After pulling out to a 11-3 lead, the Tigers added to their lead going up on 26-17 on a block by Danru and Na Yang. U of L called timeout and then went on a 5-1 run and forced a Mizzou timeout at 27-22. But the Tigers were able to reel off the final three pints including a game-deciding kill by Jessica Vander Kooi. Missouri hitting heated up to .452 in the set and U of L was outblocked 4-1. Wilson had seven kills to lead the Tigers.
The Cardinals regrouped at the break and pulled to an early lead at 14-9 and Missouri called timeout to try and change momentum. The Cardinals never trailed althoug the Tigers got to within two at 25-23 when Vander Kooi put the ball down. U of L withstood a scrappy Missouri rally and got to game point on an ace by Jennifer Craven. Vander Kooi staved off the win with a kill but a Jennifer Hoffman kill ended the game at 30-25. U of L hit .318 in the set and outblocked Missouri 4-0.
"We struggled a bit, but our back row defensive players kept us in the game and then the outside hitters found a way to put the ball down even when we didn't have perfect passing, " said Yelin.
In the fourth game U of L used a five-point run to go up 16-13 and force a Missouri timeout. Another 6-0 run induced another Tiger timeout at 24-17. U of L powered home on the 30-25 win.
"We had good passing in games one, three and four and that is how we get it done when we play well," said Jennifer Craven.
Missouri was outhit .355 to .289 and outblocked 10.5 to 7-0. U of L had three aces and Missouri did not help its cause with 13 service errors.
U of L had four players in double digit kills with Ustymenko adding 18 with two aces and 12 digs. Jennifer Hoffman had 10 kills and five blocks. Ana Yartseva had 13 kills and a match-high 18 digs.