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Kylie Deberg’s outstanding 18-kill performance led the Tigers to a 3-1 victory over Georgia in a crucial conference clash. The win was Missouri’s sixth in its last eight conference matches, improving its SEC record to 8-4. The win places the Tigers in a tie for fifth place in the SEC, but only one game behind third.

Despite a 21-kill match against Alabama on Friday, Deberg struggled with hitting the ball consistently. The 6-foot-4 outside hitter committed 12 attacking errors, dropping her hitting percentage to .173.

However, Deberg bounced back on Sunday with a team-leading 18 kills while only committing five attacking errors. The cleaner attack rate raised her hitting percentage to .371, the third-highest of the match for Missouri. Deberg also recorded a team-high three aces and two blocks for a total of 23.5 points.

The match began with the Bulldogs taking the first set behind a powerful offensive attack. Georgia had 17 kills on .308 hitting, allowing itself to pull away from Missouri in the final points of the set for a 25-20 victory. Though, the rest of the match went Missouri’s way.

Despite an ugly stat line that included a .139 hitting percentage and seven attacking errors, the Tigers were able to hold on to a 27-25 second set victory after giving away a 24-22 lead. A solo block by Deberg on a potential Georgia kill gave Missouri the 26-25 lead before Riley Sets finished off the Bulldogs with a service ace to win the set.

The third set saw the Tigers have one of their best offensive performances of the season. Missouri hit .519 with 16 kills on its way to a convincing 25-18 set win that put the Tigers up 2-1. Missouri was successful because every player on offense was contributing. That kept the Bulldogs defense always having to guess who Andrea Fuentes would set up for the offensive attack.

Missouri then closed out the match in the fourth set behind the work of Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana. With the match at 20-17, Hollingsworth-Santana came up with three-straight kills, opening up the set for an eventual 25-19 set and match win for the Tigers.

”We struggled out of the gate a bit today, but for the second consecutive match our team rebounded nicely and I’m really pleased with their fight,” interim coach Joshua Taylor said in a release. “We had so many players step up on both sides of the ball. We had a very balanced offensive attack, while our defense played consistent throughout.” The win improved Missouri’s overall record to 16-6. The Tigers improved to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season with their victory over Georgia.

The offense was not all Deberg, however. The trio of Hollingsworth-Santana, Tyanna Omazic and Leketor Member-Meneh were equally as important in Missouri’s four-set win in Athens, Georgia.

Hollingsworth-Santana had 14 kills on .500 hitting that will raise her .384 in-conference hitting percentage. The hitting average ranked fourth best in the SEC entering Sunday’s match, trailing second place by only .07.

Omazic’s 13 kills on .500 hitting all seemed to come in crucial moments that helped keep the momentum with the Tigers. The 6-foot-2 junior from Kansas City also added four blocking assists which added to her 18-point match total. Omazic’s 18 points only trailed Deberg’s 23.5 for the team lead.

Member-Meneh was also a powerful presence from the outside block. Missouri’s outside hitter added 12 kills and a career-high 14 digs, contributing big on both offense and defense.

As a team, Missouri hit .328 and only made 17 attacking errors. An improvement over the 29 attacking errors committed during Friday’s five-set victory over Alabama. The Tigers also finished with a season-high 14 total blocks.

“We’re excited to get back home next weekend and play two matches inside the Hearnes Center,” Taylor said.

Missouri will return to the court at 6:30 p.m. Friday for a rematch against Alabama at the Hearnes Center.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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