UNK Volleyball: #3 Jennies Down Short-Handed Lopers in Five
Kearney, Neb. – The third-ranked Central Missouri Jennies got double digit kill totals from four different players and closed the fifth set on an 8-4 run to down 12th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney (18-25, -16, -14, 16-25, -12) Friday night in Warrensburg, Mo.
This was an MIAA Tournament semifinal match with top-seeded UCM (27-3) to face either second-seed Northwest Missouri State or third-seed Washburn Saturday in the championship.
Fourth-seeded UNK (25-6) sees a 12-match win streak end as well as a 16-match win streak in the MIAA Tourney. The Lopers last loss in this event was in the 2015 first round to UCM. Kearney now hopes to make the NCAA Tournament for a 22nd straight year; the 64-team selection show airs Monday (Nov. 22) at 6:30 p.m. at www.ncaa.com. The Blue & Gold should be in the field as they were sixth in the most recent Central Region rankings.
UNK was a bit short-handed tonight as All-American middle Anna Squiers (Kearney Catholic) was out with injury. It’s hoped she’ll be ready for the NCAA’s in two weeks. Fill in Fallon Stutheit (Johnson) was her replacement and had a solid effort; 12 kills, two blocks and a team-high .409 hitting percentage.
A back-and-forth fifth set saw the Lopers go ahead 8-7 after a kill by redshirt sophomore outside Emersen Cyza (Alliance). That was part of a 5-2 run but that was UNK’s last lead of the night. The Jennies used a kill, unforced attack error and block to score the next three points. A Stutheit kill got Kearney within 11-10 but then UCM scored three more, two via kills from redshirt senior outside Hannah VanBuskirk. UNK stayed alive with back-to-back Jennie miscues but a kill from redshirt sophomore outside Sydney Lierz ended things.
Overall, Central Mo recorded 11 more kills than the Lopers (67-56) while hitting 61 points higher, .290-.229. The Jennies also had 10 more digs and three more team blocks. Both teams had dominating sets, UNK having 17 kills and hitting .469 in set one with UCM countering by having 19 kills and hitting .600 to win the third. The Lopers stayed alive with a 13-kill fourth set.
MIAA Player of the Year and redshirt senior middle Audrey Fisher paced the Jennies with 16 kills, five blocks and a .536 efficiency with fellow middle Hannah Engelken at 14 kills, six blocks and a .314 hitting percentage. Next, VanBuskirk (12) and redshirt sophomore outside Kersti Nix (10) had double digit kill totals with redshirt junior libero Rylie Barnum at 23 digs and going 31 for 31 in serve receive. Finally, five different Jennies had at least three blocks.
Besides Stutheit, Cyza (14), outside Cecilia Beahm (10) and right side Lauren Taubenheim (10) had double digit kills total for the Lopers. Taubenheim had five kills in seven swings (.714 pct.) in set one with middle Bailee Sterling having four of her eight kills in the fourth. She also had a season-high five blocks (three solo). Finally for UNK, senior libero Lindsay Nottlemann had a team-best 16 digs and a .957 serve receive percentage.