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Cyza shines in UNK’s quarterfinal win against Central Oklahoma

Emersen Cyza gets ready for the serve in a previous game against Pittsburg State

Emersen Cyza has stepped up her game this year for the Lopers. The redshirt sophomore Wyoming transfer leads the team in kills this year, and Tuesday night was no different in UNK’s MIAA quarterfinal win against Central Oklahoma. 

Outside hitter was a position in question at the beginning of the year, and Cyza has been a welcome emergence for the team at that spot.

“I kind of came in here not knowing what my role was gonna be or where I was gonna fit into the team,” Cyza said. “They just welcomed me with open arms, and we’re all just peaking at the perfect time.”

The Lopers won all three sets in the match. Cyza was a big part of that, especially in the third set. She accounted for 13 of the Lopers’ 25 points in the set with 12 kills and one block. 

“It almost became comical,” said coach Rick Squiers. “Every time she touched the ball, it was a kill. They weren’t able to get stops at the net and so she just got a lot of confidence and got into a rhythm.”

The Lopers won that third set 25-13. Cyza accounted for seven straight UNK points in that set. Cyza finished with an attack percentage of .553 on the night, and she also finished the game with a career-high in kills with 23. 

“I think we all played really well,” Cyza said. “Maddie was just giving me balls, and they were easy to put down because UCO (Central Oklahoma) didn’t know where the ball was going to go so I had an open net sometimes. It was a fun night.”

The Lopers struggled a bit in the first set with a few errors, but a block by Cyza to make the score 24-19 led to one of the biggest cheers of the night by the large Health & Sports Center crowd. UNK would go on to win that first set 25-20.

With the game tied at 11-11 in the second set, UNK went on a 5-0 run. Later in the set,  UNK was up 24-17 when redshirt freshman Lauren Taubeheim launched a rocket ball at the back shoulder of Central Oklahoma’s Jaedynn Evans to win the set. 

Since UNK is ranked No. 6 in the region, winning games like this one is imperative to keep that spot in the postseason.

“You start looking at the regional picture and just knowing how close it is trying to select teams to get in from the central region,” Squiers said. “This was a match that had you lost it, you would have been awfully nervous going into that selection show. Hopefully now, knowing that you’re only going to be playing teams in the top two in the region, we can kind of take a nothing to lose mentality.”

Anna Squiers had 11 kills and Taubeheim also contributed with nine. Maddie Squiers led the team with assists with 48 and also had 15 digs. Lindsay Nottlemann led the team with 16 digs and Breanna Jones had 10.

UNK is now on a 12-game winning streak that dates back to Oct. 15. The Lopers are also on a 16-game MIAA Tournament/Invite winning streak that goes back to 2015. That streak includes the 2021 MIAA Invite matches in the spring. 

“We have the trust, we have the connection and the communication,” Cyza said. “That has just stepped up, and we’ve taken it to another level.”

The Lopers improved their record to 25-5 with the win. Their next game will be the MIAA semifinal at Central Missouri. Central Missouri is No. 1 in the region and in the conference. The Lopers recently beat Central Missouri on Nov. 6 in four sets. First serve is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.

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