UNK volleyball sweeps West Texas A&M
Kearney, Neb. – Third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney hit .256, dug up 67 balls and pulled off an improbable rally in the first set to sweep previously unbeaten West Texas A&M (-24, -20, -18) Saturday afternoon in the Health & Sports Center.
The match was part of the two-day annual Rosella Meier Fall Classic. UNK won all three of its matches in the tourney to improve to 8-0 while WT falls to 6-1. The Lopers also improve to 2-5 all-time against the Lady Buffaloes, a fellow national Division II powerhouse for years.
Getting four kills from star hitter Torrey Miller and recording 26 digs, WT was poised for a first set win as they held leads of 17-14 and 24-20. One point was awarded after the UNK bench was dinged for a yellow and red card.
However, the H&S Center magic worked once more as the Lopers scored the final six points. They came via four kills, an unforced WT attack error and a ball handing error during a scramble situation. Minden redshirt freshman Jensen Rowse dug a couple of Miller missiles in this stretch with North Plate junior right side Sami Mauch having two kills. The second gave UNK a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.
"In this place I still think we had a chance if we dropped that set. But it probably reduced their chances significantly. You come in here as the road team, everything goes your way, catch a few breaks but then you can't close the deal," UNK head coach Rick Squiers said. "I'm sure that was a psychological blow. Credit to our girls … they kept fighting and when it looked like we had a chance we made some more plays."
UNK warmed up to hit .308 (16-4-39) in the second and then .333 (16-4-36) in the third. The defense had 43 dugs in these sets as well as five team blocks. Finally, WT failed to crack .200 in each set.
"We had some questions marks about our defense coming into this year. In our early scrimmages we weren't digging balls like the Lopers of 2019, 2018, 2017. So I had concerns about that and then when you take out (starting libero) Lindsay Nottlemann out of the equation (due to injuries) this weekend … for us to play that kind of defense was fantastic." Squiers said. "That's real encouraging because I thought we have a pretty good offensive team."
Nine Lopers had a kill with Kearney redshirt sophomore middle Bailee Sterling (10) leading and hitting .444 along the way. Fellow middle and Kearney native Anna Squiers had nine kills, five blocks and also hit .444 with Mauch at 11 digs, nine kills and an ace. Next, Colorado senior libero Breanna Jones provided 10 digs and two aces with Kearney senior setter Madison Squiers at 38 assists, 13 digs and two kills. Finally, Rowse had 12 digs, one of five Lopers with a double digit dig total.
"They aren't easy to stop but are somewhat predictable. They'll set #31 (Miller) all night long and they have a couple of right sides that can bang it to," Squiers said. "It's pick your poison but at that time (first set) it became all about limiting Miller. We finally got a few slowdowns on her.
WT was led by Miller's 12 kills and 11 digs with eight of her teammates in the kill column.
UNK hosts Emporia State and nationally-ranked Washburn up next