Christi Myers was there at the apex for Missouri volleyball.
At the turn of the millennium, Wayne and Susan Kreklow were taking the helm of the Tigers with Myers as a sophomore.
The one-year turnaround saw MU go from 10th in the Big 12 Conference to runner-up in the Kreklow’s first season on the sidelines.
That push continues today as Tiger volleyball is one of the university’s most consistently successful programs, and Myers helped get MU up and running.
The class of 2003 middle hitter was one of Missouri’s leaders in its rise to national prominence. Myers became the Tigers’ first-ever American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American, as a third-team member in 2002.
She still stands as the MU career record-holder in blocks (454) and she is third all-time at Missouri in hitting percentage (.322) and fourth in kills (1,476).
“When I arrived there, the program was more of a developmental stage,” Myers said Friday. “It was probably not an anchor sport on the women’s side. And then after that first season, Wayne and Susan came in, and they completely changed the culture. They made the family-feel for the program. I think they set the standards of what we were supposed to be as a student-athlete.”
Nowadays, the 39-year-old Myers has two kids, ages 12 and 10, and is the director and founder of Performance Volleyball Academy (PVA) in Overland Park, Kansas.
PVA is a nationally competitive club volleyball program with around 30 teams that travel for matches each year from the ages of 10-18.
One of the program’s recent graduates, Tyanna Omazic, will be a senior middle blocker this fall for Missouri volleyball.
In Omazic’s final PVA team, five of the nine players went on to play Division I volleyball. Other PVA graduates have gone on to play at Florida State, Arkansas and other schools.
“It's so funny because everyone always used to say I'm like Christi’s daughter,” Omazic said. “We look alike, we think alike and we play alike.”
Myers and Omazic’s signature offensive move on the court is the exact same: the slide, where the setter pushes the ball to one of the sides of the court for an off-angle spike from a hitter jumping in the same direction as the ball’s path.
“The slide ... was her still and nobody could beat her in that,” Omazic said of Myers’ ability. “It's the same thing for me, like the slide is my absolute favorite skill to do and my big asset. And I feel like it kind of replicated from Christi going into Mizzou. So, I thought that was really cool, kind of stepping into her shoes when I walked into Mizzou.”
Myers didn’t only compete for MU in volleyball, she also spent two seasons with Missouri track and field.
The Raytown South High School graduate played soccer alongside volleyball for her first three years of high school, but switched to track and field for the spring of her senior season.
In her first time competing in the high jump, Myers cleared 5 feet, 10 inches, which scored points at the Big 12 Championships at the time.
While volleyball was always her focus, the Kreklows worked with the Tigers track and field program to have Myers’ services benefit two sports.
“A high jump approach is very similar to the slide approach,” Myers said. “... So, it came very naturally for me. It was just one of those things that I happened to luck into, I guess.”
Myers didn’t pursue a professional volleyball career once her playing days in Columbia were over, as she was ready to pursue other opportunities.
She can still remember the final points in Missouri’s first-round, five-set 2003 NCAA Tournament defeat to UC Irvine.
Her favorite memory as a Tiger, however, was a two-week team trip to China after her sophomore year.
In 2012, she became the third Missouri volleyball player ever elected to the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. Only four have been enshrined to this day.
“It's a huge honor. I was completely shocked that they felt like I deserved that, but I’m very grateful to be in the Hall of Fame with such great company,” Myers said. “It's definitely a legacy that I'm trying to teach my daughter – that Mizzou is an incredible volleyball program and hopefully one day, she'll aspire to play there just the same. I'm very grateful for my time there because it's definitely helped me on my path professionally and personally.”
While finishing her degree at MU, Myers stuck around the program to help the Kreklows and even was the nanny for Wayne and Susan’s daughter, Ali.
It’s just another way she mentored another future MU volleyball standout. During Ali Kreklow’s high school years, she also played at PVA under Myers. PVA is in its eighth year of existence.
“I think the goal was giving back and creating maybe something that my daughter one day would want to participate in just the same,” Myers said about why she started PVA. “I was blessed to have coaches who saw something in me and helped me to play at the next level and I'm hoping that we can do the same for generations to come.”
That strategy worked for Omazic, one of the Tigers’ four seniors in 2020, who never played club volleyball before finishing her freshman year at Olathe Northwest (Kan.).
“I feel like if it weren't for her truly, like I couldn't be here where I am today. I can genuinely say that,” Omazic said of Myers. “... She spent so much time and effort into me and training me so I can get to where I wanted to be when I was released off to college.
“I feel like everything that I learned on and off the court, being a person off the court and on the court, how to be a great teammate, and just who I am, I feel genuinely as a person, I would have to say Christi would be my person for that.”