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Missouri volleyball struggled to get into an offensive rhythm all game, but the Tigers were still able to prevail against Tennessee in four sets (18-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-23) in Knoxville on Sunday. It was Missouri’s ninth win in 12 matches.

Outside hitter Kylie Deberg was the offensive leader once again. She recorded 22 kills, eight digs and two total blocks, including nine kills in the Tigers’ match-clinching fourth set.

Middle blocker Tyanna Omazic also had an impressive match, tallying nine kills on .400 hitting while also adding four digs, an ace and three total blocks. She entered the match second in the SEC in hitting percentage with a season average of .392.

Despite the win, the Tigers struggled offensively in sets one and three. Missouri began the match with a disastrous .086 hitting percentage in the first set and trailed the entire way, making eight attacking errors in route to a 25-18 set loss.

However, the Tigers rebounded well in the second set. The defense held the Volunteers to just a .143 hitting percentage, which allowed MU to pull away for a 25-18 win.

The third set was sloppy for both teams, but Tennessee’s mistakes allowed the Tigers to take the set 26-24 in extra points. Missouri committed eight errors and hit just .174 in the third set, but the Volunteers made nine errors and had a dismal .106 hitting percentage.

Missouri finished the day with eight total blocks, led by Omazic’s three blocking assists and Kayla Caffey’s 1.5 total blocks.

The fourth set was a return to the offense the Tigers have been used to all season. Missouri hit .447 and committed only one attacking error in its 25-23 match-clinching fourth set.

“After a rough first set, I was really pleased with how our group fought back the rest of the match,” head coach Joshua Taylor said in a press release. “Our defensive efforts really stepped up in sets two-four and that gave Tennessee’s offense some fits. As the match went on, our attackers stepped up in big situations. Timely kills and timely defense was big today.”

Leketor Member-Meneh finished the day with a team-leading 14 digs while also adding 13 kills. Andrea Fuentes set up the Missouri offense with 47 assists and also helped contribute on defense by recording 10 digs.

The win improved the Tigers to 19-7 on the season and 11-5 in conference play. Missouri now sits in fourth in the SEC. Sunday’s victory was the sixth road win for the Tigers in conference action, and one more victory in the final two regular season matches will clinch Missouri’s fifth straight season with 20 wins.

The win improved Missouri’s all time record against Tennessee to 10-5. It was the Tigers’ first win in Knoxville since 2016.

Missouri returns to the court on at 6 p.m. on Wednesday against Ole Miss in its road finale. The Tigers dropped the two teams’ previous meeting earlier this season on Oct. 9 in four sets inside the Hearnes Center.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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