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The Antelope

Redshirt junior hitter finds home with volleyball team

Emersen Cyza leads the Lopers with 13.92 kills per match. Photo provided by Kylie Schwab / Antelope Staff

Emersen Cyza grew up in Alliance where she began her volleyball career. She then went to the University of Wyoming to start her collegiate career, before transferring to UNK.

She now calls the university home.

“I came here for the culture,” Cyza said. “I kind of came here knowing how good they were and that you come here to strive to be the best player you can be.”

Not only did the change of schools bring Cyza joy, but the change in social life did as well. 

“I feel like I met my best friends my first year and they’ll be with me for life,” Cyza said. “So, yeah, it was very easy to come into this environment and just feel accepted and welcome.”

Cyza took the court by storm during the fall 2021 season as the outside hitter. She became one of the Loper leaders in kills right beside former middle back Anna Squiers, and led the team with 400 kills. 

“My trainer always tells me to just hit ball hard, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do and it makes it easy when I get a great pass and a great set behind me,” Cyza said.

Cyza has been named MIAA Volleyball Player of the Week three times this season and leads the team with 348 kills. She has been successful in the outside hitter position, but that wasn’t always her area of expertise.

During her freshman year at Wyoming, she played a variety of positions and never quite settled in. When she came to UNK she found a permanent spot as an outside hitter. 

“My freshman year at Wyoming, I was the right side (hitter) and then I’ve always just kind of switched back-and-forth,’’ Cyza said. “Then I finally came here and got that outside spot.” 

New seasons come with new dynamics. One friendship that is key to the Lopers’ success is between Cyza and redshirt freshman setter Peyton Neff.

“I feel like she kind of came in having big shoes to fill and she just has been doing great,” Cyza said. “She’s just a blessing to be with on and off the court and that just makes her on-the-court experience even better.”

UNK coach Rick Squiers called Cyza a “big game player” when she led the team to 20 kills after a tough loss to Washburn earlier this month.

Cyza also credits her mom for being supportive of her success on and off the court. 

“My mom is my best friend and that’s what everyone says, but gosh, she’s just amazing,” Cyza said. “She watches every game. She’s always just there. Even if I do have an off-game, she’s still rooting for me. She’s the best.”

While keeping connected with her first family, the redshirt junior has found a second home with the Lopers. Cyza knew from the start it was meant to be when she came to see the potential of UNK.

“I loved the atmosphere when I came on my visit and decided that it’s going to be home,” Cyza said.

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