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Loper volleyball earns fifth-straight win in celebratory fashion

UNK ATHLETICS The Lopers celebrate Rick Squiers’ 1,000th win following their victory over Newman.

The Lopers knew that they were in for a big weekend that needed two wins to help them in the postseason race and to help their coach reach a major milestone. They did exactly that, defeating Central Oklahoma 3-1 and Newman 3-0, making it five straight for the Lopers.

The Lopers faced off against the Newman on Saturday, securing a key victory. After winning the first set, UNK took a 9-7 lead in the second set. The team then began to fire on all cylinders, going on a 16-2 run, winning 25-9.

The Lopers stalled a late run from Newman in the third set, holding on 25-20. Cyza again led the team with 17 kills, while Anna Squiers also tacked on nine in an accolade-filled night.

With her nine kills against Newman, Anna Squiers passed 1,000 for her career at UNK. After coming back for an extra eligibility year, Anna Squiers has made the most of the opportunity picking up right where she left off.

“That’s a lot of kills, especially for a middle,” said UNK coach Rick Squiers “We would not be standing here talking about this without her coming back this year.”

The win against Newman also marked 1,000-career victories for coach Rick Squiers which includes his collegiate and high school career. Over his 23 years coaching volleyball at UNK, Squiers has accumulated 693 wins.

“You stop and think about how lucky you are to have coached a lot of really good players and people,” Squiers said. “I think as you kind of get towards the end of it, you try to appreciate it a little bit more.”

Following the win, Breanna Jones and Lindsay Nottlemann were also recognized for recently reaching 1,000-career digs.

With many top teams in the region, the Lopers needed a win against Central Oklahoma. UNK came into the game ranked fifth in the MIAA standings while Central Oklahoma came in ranked fourth.  

UNK and Central Oklahoma split the first two sets of the match. UNK started the third set up 6-2 and held on to their lead after a back-and-forth battle, ultimately prevailing 25-21. The Loper attack continued into the fourth set, with UNK taking a 25-15 victory.

Two key performances came from left-side hitters Emersen Cyza and CeCe Beahm, who combined for 32 kills.

“When you can get .300-plus out of your left-sides, that makes the game a lot easier,” Squiers said.

After falling to the Bronchos earlier in the season, the Lopers knew they had to put together a more well-rounded offensive performance.

“We just kind of outlasted them offensively, which we had to do,” Squiers said. “When we played them down there, we couldn’t stop them.”

While this was a special weekend for UNK volleyball, the Lopers know that there is still more work to be done.

“This was a huge weekend for us and now they just get bigger as we go,” said Squiers.

UNK will go on the road Friday and Saturday to take on Missouri Western State and Northwest Missouri State. 

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KEVIN BURD, Sports Edior
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