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Volleyball day in Nebraska about more than results for Lopers

Emersen Cyza and Abby Rose combine for the block against Wayne State. Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff

The UNK Volleyball team participated in Volleyball Day in Nebraska, taking on Wayne State in an exhibition match. 

While the match ended in a 3-0 victory for the Wildcats, it was a day that ended up being more than the final score. 

While the record for the national attendance for a women’s sporting event wasn’t broken until later in the evening, when the Huskers announced 92,003 fans, the Lopers still got the opportunity to play with roughly 30,000 fans by the end of their match. 

“It was just an incredible experience getting to play at Memorial Stadium,” said outside hitter Emersen Cyza. “It was the craziest feeling going out there and seeing everybody. I really don’t have a lot of words for it.”  

One thing that was a concern for head coach Rick Squiers headed into the match was the external factors. 

“You’re dealing with the unknowns of playing outside in a stadium,” Squiers said. “We’re glad it’s an exhibition with all the things that could come into play with the sun and the wind.” 

With volleyball, the teams are used to playing inside in a climate controlled arena. This match being outside, there were some concerns on how the sun, heat and wind could affect the play of the match. 

“Peyton Neff could have set a perfect ball and the wind would pick it up and move it,” Cyza said. “It was hard to manage that as a hitter and for passers too.” 

The match was controlled by Wayne State. The Lopers jumped ahead early 5-0 in the first set, but after a timeout by Wayne State head coach Scott Kneifl, the Wildcats came out and took control of the match. 

They won the first two sets 25-17 and the third by a score of 15-12. It was pre-determined that the match would be three sets.

Asha Regier led all Lopers with six kills in the match. Northwest Missouri transfer Jaden Ferguson had five kills, and Cyza had four kills and three blocks. 

The players, while enjoying the day, did take some things away from the match 

“It was frustrating and we definitely didn’t play the way we wanted to,” Cyza said. “It was just an experience that you can’t go back and look at wins, it was about more than that.” 

The Lopers now have their sights set on the regular season. After a 28-6 season last year, and another trip to the NCAA tournament, there are a lot of expectations for UNK. 

Returners for the Lopers include Cyza who was first team all-MIAA after averaging over four kills per set last year. Jensen Rowse was also first team all-MIAA, being the normal libero for the Lopers last year. Sophomores Peyton Neff, Lexi Stevens, Abby Rose, and Emilee Lane will have bigger roles for the Lopers. 

The Lopers bring in a veteran transfer class, which coach Squiers believes will be the key to the Lopers success. 

“I think we’re a deeper team than we were last year,” Squiers said. “There’s some veterans on the pins that hopefully will be able to carry us a little bit while we gain some experience in the middle.” 

The Lopers were picked as the preseason favorite to win the MIAA conference, and were the 10th ranked team in this week’s AVCA poll.

A world record crowd of 92,003 filled Memorial Stadium for UNL vs. UNO. Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff
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Jon Willis
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