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Loper volleyball dominates, starts season undefeated after eight games

The Loper Volleyball team celebrates together after scoring a point. (Photo by Jiyoon Kim)

The newly top-ranked UNK women’s volleyball team started their home season against the University of Saint Mary in Kansas on Sept. 8. The Lopers dominated, winning the match in three sets. 

The Lopers were able to get multiple women into the game which is something that they can do with their large roster.

“I like the fact that we were able to play a lot of people and it feels like we have depth in multiple positions,” said coach Rick Squiers. “Some of the decisions we have to make are tough.” 

The closest the score ever got in the first set was 8-5. The Lopers then went on a 6-0 run that ended with a kill by redshirt sophomore Bailee Sterling. UNK went on to win the first set 25-13.

The Lopers would win the second set as well 25-15. With the Lopers up 7-6 in the third set, redshirt sophomore Sami Mauch went on a serving tear. She scored on four-straight aces to give UNK a five-point lead. The Lopers rolled from there, winning the third set 25-17. 

“Sami’s trained extremely hard in the gym all fall and she’s gone after it at that position in every way,” Squiers said. Back row. Front row. she’s getting comfortable as an attacker over there and yeah that serve is really tough to handle.”

UNK was led in kills by redshirt sophomore Emerson Cyza and Mauch who each had eight kills. Maddie Squiers led in assists with 24 and Lindsay Nottlemann led in digs with 24 as well.

The Lopers hosted the UNK Fall Classic Tournament over the weekend at the Health and Sports Center. The tournament included West Texas A&M, Chadron State and Southern Nazarene. Minot State had to drop out due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Lopers dominated Southern Nazarene and Chadron State on Sept. 10, winning both games in three sets. Maddie Squiers had 39 assists against Southern Nazarene and 40 against Chadron State. Anna Squiers also dominated getting 12 kills against Southern Nazarene and eight against Chadron State.

The Lopers were in for a tougher match against the West Texas A&M Lady Buffs. Both teams came into the game undefeated and 2-0 in their UNK Fall Classic Tournament Matches. 

The Lady Buffs got off to a good start, pulling away from the Lopers midway throughout the first set. West Texas A&M was able to get within a point of winning the match up 20-24. UNK then went on a six-point scoring run which ended on a kill by Mauch to win the first set 26-24. 

“I think we still had a chance if we dropped that set, but I think it probably reduced their chances significantly,” Squiers said. “The way volleyball is they start pressing a little bit and do something uncharacteristic and we capitalize and the Health and Sports Center kicks in and all of the sudden you steal one.” 

The Lopers were able to keep that momentum going into the second set, winning it 25-20 behind four kills from Anna Squiers. They dominated once again in the third set by winning it 25-18 off of five kills from Cyza and four kills from Sterling.

“Our team has gotten better quickly every week so far,” Squiers said. “I love our offensive firepower. I love the fact that we can go to some people on the bench. We have a nice blend of some newcomers that can score with a lot of veterans.” 

UNK was led by Sterling with 10 kills total and Maddie Squiers led in assists with 38 and in digs with 13. The Lady Buffs were led in kills by Torrey Miller with 12 and in digs by Emma Patterson with 14. 

UNK received the No. 1 ranking in the AVCA Top 25 poll on Sept. 13. They will defend that top ranking at home this weekend as they play against Emporia State on Sept. 17 and No. 3 Washburn on Sept. 18.

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