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Missouri volleyball’s offense was outpaced again in its loss to Kansas State on Tuesday in Columbia, but the match statistics show Missouri is making strides in the right direction.

The Wildcats (7-2) bested the Tigers (2-8) in three sets with scores of 25-23, 25-20, 25-20. Electric duo Jayden Nembhard and Aliyah Carter led the way for Kansas State, flooring 17 and 16 kills, respectively. Their combined 33 kills were more than Missouri’s entire team. Sophomore Carter hit a season-best .433 efficiency.

Missouri’s Anna Dixon had 13 kills for her fifth consecutive match hitting double-digits. Kansas State setter Teana Adams-Kaonohi notched an impressive double-double with 35 assists and 11 digs. The Wildcats’ .284 hitting percentage also topped the Tigers’ .140.

Aside from offensive productivity, the two teams were almost evenly matched. Missouri sided-out well and only missed four serves, which was a major improvement for the young team. Kansas State had 10 serving errors but still managed to find momentum. The Wildcats also boasted a side-out percentage of 65.6%.

Missouri coach Joshua Taylor continued his streak of toying with his lineup. Setters Nicole Alford and Addison Lyon both saw court time. Graduate student Alford had been the starting setter until freshman Lyon took her place at the UniWyo Invite over the weekend. In Tuesday’s loss, Alford had 11 assists while Lyon had 17; however, Alford had seven digs while Lyon had two.

The setter situation will be a storyline to watch moving forward. Alford has years of collegiate experience from her time at Maryland, but Lyon could be the future leader of Missouri volleyball. Will Taylor favor one to set a 5-1? Or will he opt to play both and set a 6-2?

The Tigers are running out of time to determine their starting core. Their final nonconference tournament takes place Friday and Saturday at the Redbird Classic in Normal, Illinois. Missouri will get another chance to iron out any wrinkles against Illinois, North Texas and Illinois State before beginning SEC play Sept. 24 at Kentucky.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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