RENO " Eight consecutive trips to the Big Dance and four Big 12 teams ranked in the Top 25.
"The Big 12 is one of the toughest volleyball conferences in the country. Missouri is a fantastic team," University of Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said.
Behind career highs from Kylie Harrington and Sage Aune and a double-double from Allison Hernandez, Nevada held off Missouri, 25-22, 25-22, 18-25 and 25-16, in the first round of the AT&T Invitational in front of 331 fans Friday night at the Virginia Street Gym.
"I think I had one too many errors, but I did a good job keeping my composure," said Harrington, who posted a game- and career-high 19 kills. "I was smart on the court and put balls away."
Hernandez recorded 12 kills and 16 digs, Aune bested her previous career-high in kills by one (10) and Sonnie Sei dished out 40 assists as the Wolf Pack improved to 2-1 at home.
Facing the Big 12's Missouri, which competes with Nebraska, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State, didn't seem to bother Nevada. Some of the players didn't know Missouri came from one of the best conferences in the country.
"I don't think I realized how big of a team they were," Hernandez said. "They were good. We had a lot of hype when UCLA came to play (last week), which makes us want to play better."
Nevada (3-3) faces UC Davis today at noon before taking on No. 24 Pepperdine at 7 p.m. The Western Athletic Conference season doesn't begin until Thursday, but the players said the caliber of this weekend's tournament should help them with their confidence.
"We really had good composure, even when we dug ourselves a huge hole in game one," Scruggs said. "We were serving way too easy in the third game and the goal was to come out and serve tough (in the fourth game)."
Exposure to strong teams, not just in the AT&T Invitational, could also help Nevada compete better with the WAC's upper tier in Hawaii, New Mexico State and Utah State. Missouri beat Utah State in four sets two weeks ago and lost to then-No. 20 BYU in five.
"It's going to help a lot," Harrington said. "The preseason's been pretty tough. The exposure to good teams is going to help us."
Nevada didn't look seem like the team that would beat Missouri in four games, though.
The Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first game before the Wolf Pack chipped at the deficit and took its first lead at 19-18 on Lindsay Baldwin's ace. Baldwin had a game-high three aces and seven kills. Nevada never trailed as Aune's cross-court kill and Harrington's tip sealed the three-point win.
Nevada led most of the second and fourth sets but had problems in the third. The Tigers hit 20 kills for a .515 attack percentage in the third set. Julianna Klein led Missouri with 12 kills, Lei Wang dished out 36 assists and Caitlyn Vann had 13 digs.