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The Antelope

Lopers continue to roll beating top 10 team in three sets

The Lopers were first in the MIAA conference standings following the victory against Northwest Missouri State. Photo provided by Nate Lilla / Antelope Staff

The No. 5 UNK volleyball team took on No. 10 Northwest Missouri State on Friday. The Lopers dominated and won in straight sets 3-0.

With UNK behind 25-24 in the second set, Peyton Neff and Bailee Sterling electrified the Loper faithful with a block after a long, back-and-forth rally to tie the set at 25-25.

“It was really tough for them to recover from that,” said UNK coach Rick Squiers. “I think they probably felt like they had to have that one.”

The Lopers would finish the set with the win 27-25 after an overpass kill by Emersen Cyza. This is not the first time the never-say-quit Lopers have been able to battle through a tough rally.

“There was a part of me and I’m sure the team as well feeling like we were exactly where we want to be,” Squiers said. “We’ve been in this spot a bunch of times this year. We’ve played well in those back-and-forth, one-point, two-point, set-point situations.”

The crowd was also a factor with many YMCA volleyball families receiving free tickets for their kids to the game.

“I think the crowd just wears on them (Northwest Missouri State),” Squiers said. “It gets tight like that and they kind of helped us get to the finish line.”

The Lopers got off to a hot start. Following a big kill by the Bearcats to open the first set, UNK set the tone of the match with seven straight points and went on to win the set 25-19.

“They got a big kill right away and actually set a hitter we didn’t expect them to set,” Squiers said. “We were kind of planning for something else and we responded with just a bomb. We hit some balls really hard in the first five points and that sends a message to their defense that you have to deal with us all night.”

The Lopers kept that second set momentum rolling into the third set. After leading 4-3 early, UNK scored six straight points to lead 10-3. The Lopers would go on to win the set 25-12.

UNK was led in kills by Cyza with 17 and Bailee Sterling with 10. Cyza was named MIAA offensive player of the week after her performance. 

“She’s a big game player and this was a big game,” Squiers said. “I think she just gained some confidence right out of the shoot and it continued as the match went on.”

Jensen Rowse led the team in digs with 23 and Peyton Neff led in assists with 40 while contributing 8 digs. 

Neff as a redshirt freshman was named MIAA setter of the week for the second week in a row.

“Peyton Neff is growing up right before our eyes,” Squiers said. “She’s getting more confident every time we play. She made some plays for us and it got us a few kills.”

The Lopers faced Washburn on Tuesday, which they lost to earlier in the year in five sets on Sept. 10. You can find the recap for the game online at 

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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