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The Antelope

Point. Set. Match. Championship.

The UNK volleyball team gathers in a huddle as they discuss strategy and get ready to begin the fifth set against the Washburn Ichabods, Saturday night.

By Alex Eller

Two trophies are twice as nice. The UNK women’s volleyball team followed up their regular season MIAA conference championship, with the MIAA tournament championship Nov. 10.

What makes the tournament championship even more special, is the fact that the Lopers were able to win it on their home floor in front of their fans.

“I want to mention how sweet it has been to play the tournament at home the past 3 years because I believe we have the best fans in the world and there is no place like the Health and Sports Center,” Julianne Jackson said.

The road to the championship started with a first-round matchup against Missouri Western State on Nov.6. This was a tricky draw, because UNK had just played the Griffons four days prior.

In the first set, the Lopers put up a great offensive performance. With the score 4-3 in favor of UNK, Mary Wolfe went on a tear recording 4 straight kills.

Kendall Schroer recorded 2 of the 3 final kills off the assist from Lindsey Smith to secure the first set 25-15. The Lopers had a scorching .405 hitting percentage compared to Missouri Western .057.

It was a different story in the next two sets, as UNK struggled offensively. Fortunately for the Lopers, they were able to keep the Griffons done offensively as well with great defense.

UNK’s performance was good enough to win sets two and three 25-20 and 25-21 and sweep the Griffons in straight sets.

The Lopers followed up the first-round victory with a sweep of No.11 Central Missouri on Nov.9. It was the same script to an all too familiar story.

Wolfe and Jackson closed out the first set with five straight kills between the two of them.

The Mules turned things around defensively but struggled offensively throughout the night. UNK was able to hold Central Missouri hitting percentage under .100 for the entire match.

Add that stat, to the fact the Lopers were able to produce 11 blocks to Central Missouri’s three. UNK earned the three-set sweep of the Mules 25-11, 25-22, and 25-21.

The Lopers next matchup No.10 Washburn was an all too familiar foe. The Ichabods came into the match as the only team to beat UNK this season.

To begin the match the Lopers looked like a team on a mission. With the score tied at 23 apiece, Washburn went to work trying to get a kill. Their efforts were thwarted by Wolfe and Jackson who came up with back to back blocks.

In set two, UNK saw a three-point lead dwindle down to one, late. Wolfe closed the door on Washburn with three straight kills.

With their backs against the wall, Washburn responded in a big way in set three. After being tied with UNK at five, the Ichabods closed out the set on a 20-8 run.

This carried over into the fourth, where the Lopers couldn’t claw themselves out of an early hole. Genna Berg’s kill cross court ended the set and pushed the match to a fifth set.

“By the end of the 4th set, we had sparked some momentum again that allowed us to really start fighting for each other and with each other,” Jackson said.

UNK was determined in set five to not let Washburn best them again. Jackson, Wolfe, and Smith started the match off with three straight kills. Wolfe’s service ace put the Lopers up 9-3.

At that point, the Ichabods went on a 7- point run. This was cemented with a block by Kelsey Gordon.

Both teams didn’t want to give in, and found themselves tied at 14.

Anna Squiers’ kill gave UNK the lead, and an uncharacteristic bad set by the Ichabods set up the victory for the Lopers.

By winning both the regular season and tournament for the MIAA Conference, UNK secured themselves a No.1 seed in the NCAA Regionals, so the Lopers will be at home for the start of the NCAA tournament.

They will take on the 8 seeded Harding University (25-7) on Nov.15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Health and Sports Center.

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