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UNK Volleyball: #7 Lopers Need Four Sets to Win in St. Joe

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Middle Fallon Stutheit had a career-high 18 kills and seventh-ranked Nebraska Kearney out hit Missouri Western State by 87 points to win in four sets (-23, 23-25, -15, -23) Friday night in St. Joseph, Mo.

The Lopers (14-1, 4-1) stave off the upset bid by the Griffons (3-9, 0-4) and now face 17th-ranked Central Missouri Saturday at 2 p.m. The Jennies (9-4, 4-0) downed Fort Hays State in four sets tonight in Warrensburg.  

Not only did UNK get a big night from Stutheit (Johnson) but middle Bailee Sterling warmed up as the match wore on (15 kills, .294 pct.), outside CeCe Beahm was strong early (10 kills, .263 pct.) and outside Emersen Cyza (Alliance) had 16 kills.

Mo West made things more than interesting thanks to seven service aces, 89 digs and 30 kills over the first two sets. The Lopers trailed in the first 14-12 before reeling off five straight to take control. The key stretch featured two Stuheit kills and a solo block from right side Lauren Taubenheim (Lincoln Pius).

UNK didn't trail again but the Griffs got within 24-23 before a Sterling kill. MWSU countered by jumping out to a 10-4 lead in the second, getting five kills in this set from junior middle Danielle Moje and serving up four aces. The Lopers got as close as 23-22 but a kill and service error tied things at one.

Kearney rolled in the third set thanks to hitting .500 (15-1-28) with Sterling having six of the kills and Stutheit supplying five. The Lopers were also strong at the net, getting two blocks from both Sterling and Taubenheim. Finally, UNK was up 20-14 in the fourth before things got dicey. Mo West scored four straight and then tied things at 22 on a kill from outside Hailey Crane. Back-to-back Stuheit kills got the Lopers to match point with a Cyza kill finally ending things.

Defensively, libero Jensen Rowse (Minden) had 27 digs with Taubenheim at 18 and freshman DS Lexi Stephens (Ankeny, Ia.) at 15. MWSU had five players with a double digit dig total including libero Lia Grahahm (23). Moje had a team-best 13 kills with two others cracking double digits.

Stuheit reached her kill total in 35 swings (.457) and has now been in double digits five times this fall. She is among the Division II leaders in attack percentage, entering the weekend at .426.

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