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The final match of the Dayton Invitational mirrored the first two. Kylie Deberg led an unstoppable Missouri offensive attack with a career-high 25 kill performance that guided Missouri’s 3-1 win over Northern Illinois.

The victory marked a perfect 3-0 weekend, highlighted by the straight-set sweep over No. 14 Michigan on Friday. The undefeated weekend earned Missouri the title of Dayton Invitational champions.

Continuing the theme from yesterday’s matches, Missouri poured on an offensive attack that could not be matched. The Tigers finished the day with 65 kills on .461 hitting, led by Deberg, Leketor Member-Meneh and Tyanna Omazic, the usual suspects.

Andrea Fuentes is one of the biggest reasons the Tigers’ attack has been running so smoothly. Fuentes had a 55 assist match while adding three kills and two aces. Fuentes had at least 30 assists in all three matches at the Dayton Invitational.

“Offensively, Andrea did an outstanding job all weekend in running things,” interim head coach Joshua Taylor said in a press release. “I think we’ve clicked well all four matches so far this year.”

The reason for the success had been the consistent play of players such as Member-Meneh and Omazic. The Tigers know they are getting an All-SEC performance out of Deberg every night, but when Member-Meneh and Omazic combine for 29 kills, the offense is unstoppable.

There were only a couple moments of worry in today’s match. Missouri dominated the first set, hitting .739 with 17 kills and zero errors on the way to a 25-12 set victory. The second set was a close battle with Missouri up 20-18, but the Tigers made a couple miscues that allowed the Huskies to go on a 7-2 run and win the second set 25-22.

“After a long Friday and two wins, we knew we’d have to regroup and get ready for Northern Illinois,” Taylor said. “They came to play and really pushed us.”

Things changed quickly after that. Member-Meneh took over during important stretches of the third set, especially early, with four kills in the beginning of the set that allowed Missouri to take the 9-4 advantage. She stopped a Huskies rally with a solo block to keep the Tigers in the lead 21-18. It was then only fitting that she ended the set with a kill, her 14th of the match at the time, to secure the third set for the Tigers 25-20.

Northern Illinois responded well in the fourth set as they tried to be the first team to take Missouri to the fifth set with an early 9-5 lead. However, Fuentes and Deberg had other ideas. Strong kills from both players allowed the Tigers to not only tie the match, but take an 18-14 lead. Missouri kept the lead until the end, claiming the fourth set and the invitational crown with a 25-17 victory.

“This was a successful trip for sure,” Taylor said. “We struggled a bit with serve and pass today, but credit to the ladies for stepping up in big moments.”

For the first time in her career, Claudia Dillon started a match and took full advantage of it. She finished with seven kills and hit .778, while on defense she added three blocks.

In four matches thus far, the Tigers have only dropped a combined three sets. They are 4-0 for the first time since 2015, where they ended up reaching 12-0 before losing a match to the Saint Louis Billikens.

Missouri will look to extend its undefeated record next weekend for its home opener at the Mizzou Invitational, held from Sept. 13 to 15. Missouri opens play with a doubleheader, facing Austin Peay at 11 a.m. and Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Tigers conclude the weekend with a matchup against UMKC at 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 and a finale against Boise State at noon on Sept. 15.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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