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Volleyball knocks off ranked foe during undefeated week

Loper volleyball players celebrate during the team’s 3-1 victory over Pitt State on Friday. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

UNK volleyball went undefeated in three home games last week, including a four set victory over No. 21 ranked Central Oklahoma.

In Thursday night’s game against Central Oklahoma, the Lopers had big games from redshirt senior Emerson Cyza and fifth-year Jaden Ferguson as well as 10 kills from freshman Mia Berg. 

“(It was) a very non freshman like performance by Mia Berg,” said UNK volleyball coach, Rick Squiers. “We were going to need a contribution from everybody, we could not just go pin to pin and ride our outsides and Jaden Ferguson. It was really important that we got our middles going and they both played well. They both hit very efficiently, they also got some quality block touches.”

Ferguson and Cyza had 15 kills each and two aces, as well as Ferguson’s six blocks. 

It was a close first set, until Ferguson blocked a kill attempt, followed by back-to-back kills, stretching the Lopers lead. They won the first set 25-16.

The Lopers struggled to get ahead in the second set. The largest deficit was eight, until they went on a run with four kills, cutting Central Oklahoma’s lead to one.

The Lopers ended up losing the set by five.

Peyton Neff, a redshirt sophomore, had six kills, along with 47 out of the teams 56 assists.

“I think that we started off strong in the first set,” Neff said. “But in that third set, we kind of were like ‘this is our house and we’re not going to let them do whatever they want.’ I just think we did a really good job of getting the momentum back.”

UNK had a rough start to the third set when Central Oklahoma went on a 4-0 run. The Lopers eventually took the lead after three Broncho errors. 

There were four lead changes in the third set, ending with Ferguson’s two kills and a block, winning 25-23.

There were four lead changes but with Ferguson’s two kills and a block, it ended the third set 25-23.

The Lopers trailed by four at the beginning of the fourth set but came back and tied it up four times before taking the lead. 

“We knew coming into conference play everybody’s gonna be tough,” Ferguson said. “Ideally, we don’t want to drop sets to anybody, but we know everybody in this conference is capable of taking sets.”

Friday night’s match against Pittsburg State also went into the fourth set.

The Lopers beat Pitt State 25-13 in the first set and 25-16 in the second. Despite the strong start, the Lopers lost in the third set by four.  

UNK led the third until the Gorillas scored seven points straight, giving them a five-point lead.

Even after cutting the lead down to two, the Lopers fell short in that set. 

Early in the fourth set, Pitt State led 4-0 but then the Lopers tied it up at five. They then led the rest of the way.

UNK went on to win by eight.

“We did get off to rough starts it seems like, but we battled our way back,” Squiers said. “Even in the set we lost, we battled and had a chance to go get it. So, I think we just competed really well.” 

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Shelby Berglund
Shelby Berglund, Photography Editor
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