Former longtime Missouri volleyball coaches Wayne and Susan Kreklow returned to the Hearnes Center on Wednesday night and were honored before the No. 24 Tigers faced No. 13 Florida in a Southeastern Conference showcase.

The seesaw battle that followed displayed the grit of Kreklow-coached teams of years past, but a final rally by the Gators spoiled the party.

MU fell three points short in a five-set thriller, losing 22-25, 25-17, 27-29, 25-20, 12-15.

“They are 13th for a reason,” Tigers interim head coach Joshua Taylor said of Florida. “They play good volleyball and they are physical. This one stings, for sure, but there are a lot of positives we can still take out of it. You can’t give a team like Florida any opportunity to capitalize on little mistakes that we may commit. I think that was the difference in set five, as we built an advantage, but then made some costly errors to allow them right back in it.

"We’ve got to regroup quickly, as we have another tough opponent on tap this Sunday at Texas A&M.”

The loss snaps Missouri's four-match winning streak and drops the Tigers to 14-5 overall and 6-3 in the SEC. Florida improves to 18-3 overall and 9-1 in league play.

After tying the match at 2 games apiece, Missouri took an 8-4 lead in the deciding set. A plethora of errors, however, allowed the Gators to score 11 of the final 15 points of the contest.

Starting the night, the Gators dominated the first set, when they led by as many as eight on two different occasions.

“I thought we were a little timid and deferring a lot rather than taking charge,” Taylor said of the slow start. “I also felt like we reset a little bit psychologically and identified where we were putting our focus from the first set to the second set.”

Whatever the Tigers changed for the second set, it worked. Missouri came out the aggressor and held an eight-point lead much of the way to the finish.

From that point on, Missouri senior Riley Sents said she knew the match was going to be a battle.

“We really look forward to playing these high-level games and so we knew it was going to take a lot of energy and a lot of passion on every point," Sents said. "We just really tried to put it all out there on the line for each point. Just go as hard as we can for 10 seconds each rally.

"Unfortunately, it wasn’t the outcome we wanted.”

The third set was indeed a battle, featuring 18 ties and eight lead changes. But after tying the set at 27, Missouri committed back-to-back errors to fall behind 2-1 in the match. MU was held back in the third game by its worst offensive set of the night, as the Tigers posted a .068 hitting percentage.

Missouri turned things around and never trailed in the fourth set. Florida cut its deficit to 22-20 before the Tigers ended the game with three straight points.

Despite losing the pivotal fifth set, Missouri still managed to outdo Florida in overall kills 68-63, hitting percentage .274-.247, assists 68-61, aces 9-8 and digs 72-54.

Four Tigers posted double-digit kills: Kylie Deberg (27), Tyanna Omazic (14), Leketor Member-Meneh (13) and Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana (11).

Andrea Fuentes dished out 50 assists, while Sents finished the match with a team-leading 18 digs.

Missouri opens a three-match road trip at 2 p.m. Sunday at Texas A&M before playing at Alabama and Georgia next weekend.