The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Volleyball claims conference title

Senior outside, Kendall Schroer, fires in a spike against Missouri Western last Friday night. Schroer ended the game with eight kills, a small sample size compared to her 24 kills against Northwest Missouri State on Saturday.

Lopers defeat Northwest Missouri State in five to be crowned MIAA regular season champs, take No. 1 seed in conference tournament

Alex Eller

In an unprecedented turn of events, the No. 3 UNK women’s volleyball team ended the season as MIAA champs for the third straight season.

“When we were staring at the stretch we had after losing at home to Washburn, we weren’t even remotely thinking about winning the conference,” said Rich Squiers, UNK women’s volleyball coach. “We were trying to figure out when we were going to win next having to play at UCO and Pitt State. Once we got those two wins, we started believing we might have a chance.” 

The chance of UNK repeating as conference champions seemed more in the ballpark of winning the lottery coming into the week. Washburn held a game lead over UNK and had only dropped one match in the conference on the season. In the span of six days, they were shutout by Central Missouri and Central Oklahoma, to open the door for UNK.

“Washburn gave us a little help, and we have been opportunistic all year,” Squiers said. “As soon as the opportunity came along this group said okay you shouldn’t have given that to us and they made them pay for it.”

It wasn’t easy with a quality Bearcat team matched up on the other side of the net. Northwest Missouri State came into the match with only six losses and sat in third place in the conference rankings.

In the first set, the Lopers were outmatched against the tough upfront play of the Bearcats. Trailing 21-23, UNK fought back to take the lead at 24-23, on a kill up the middle by Anna Squiers. 

With match point on the line, Hallie Sidney came up with a kill for NWMS. A miss handled free ball by the Lopers found its way to the floor and gave the Bearcats the first set victory at 26-24.

“We are not a team like they are,” Squiers said. “They clearly had two or three weapons they could chuck balls too on their side.”

UNK bounced back from the close-set by pulling away in the second. With the score tied at 11-11 the Lopers went on an 8-2 run, thanks to kills from Emma Benton, Julianne Jackson, and Kendall Schroer. At one-point, UNK lead 24-18, but four straight points by NWMS cut the deficit to two. Jackson made sure the Lopers held on, with a shot that deflected off the Bearcats upfront and out of bounds. 

“The veterans and seniors on the team know that these types of games are a marathon and not a sprint,” Squiers said. “Our girls have done a great job of just playing the next play.”

A good second set was followed up by an even better third set for UNK. Lindsey Smith’s signature tip shot caught NWMS off guard and extended the Lopers lead to 9-5. Jackson came up with a huge kill on the left side, that ended the set at 25-18 and put the Lopers up 2-1.

The Bearcats came out with a spirited effort in the third set. Sofia Schleppenbach stuffed Schroer on the left side to put NWMS up three at 8-5.

Like set one, both teams were neck and neck to the finish line. Trailing 23-24, Mackenzie Puckett looked to tie it up with a kill, but her shot was sent back inbounds on UNK’s side.

With so much at stake, the Lopers came out prepared to battle in the fifth. Schroer and Mary Katherine Wolfe went right at the heart of the Bearcat frontline to get two kills to start the set.

“The veterans and seniors on the team know that these types of games are a marathon and not a sprint. Our girls have done a great job of just playing the next play.”

 -Rick Squiers, Head Coach

Squiers’ rocket up the middle gave UNK the lead at 4-3. NWMS stayed close throughout the set but could never get the lead back from that point on.

Jackson came up clutch like she did all night, getting the final two kills of the match to secure the victory. She ended the night with 14 kills, and two ace serves. 

“It’s so unlikely to be in all these five sets matches and win every single one of them, but it has a lot to do with the people on the court,” Squiers said. “With our experience, we seem to find a way especially when we’re at home.”

On a night that was all about the seniors in their final regular season home match, Schroer stole the show with a game-high 24 kills.

With a win against Missouri Western on Nov. 6, the Lopers would advance to host their next match on Friday, Nov. 9, at 7 pm, and could potentially host the finals Saturday, Nov. 10, at 6 pm.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *