Kearney, Neb. – Sophomore Mary Katherine Wolfe had 13 kills, 15 digs and three blocks to help the sixth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney sweep 14th-ranked Central Oklahoma (-27, -24, -23) Friday night in Edmond.
UNK (27-2, 13-2) picks up its first win at UCO (24-5, 12-3) in four years and moves into sole possession of second place in the MIAA standings. This match also had NCAA Tournament implications as the Lopers are fourth in the Central Region and the Bronchos seventh.
Earlier this year in the Health & Sports Center, Kearney took the final two sets to rally past UCO in five. Out hitting UCO by 49 points tonight, UNK again made the plays down the stretch as they took each set by just two points.
There were nine ties and four lead changes in the first set alone with the Lopers grabbing a 21-17 lead after a block by junior middle Mackenzie Puckett (Grand Island) and Wolfe (Omaha Marian). However, UCO went on an 8-3 run to reach set point.
A kill from sophomore middle Anna Squiers (Kearney Catholic) knotted things up at 25 but the ‘Chos got to another set point thanks to an unforced Loper attack error. UNK scored four of the next five points with an ace by senior libero Ellie McDonnell (Papillion) giving the Lopers a 1-0 lead in the match.
UCO never led in set two by did have things all square at 24 after a kill from sophomore right side Haley Deschenes. But UNK countered with kills from Squiers and senior outside Kendall Schroer (Ogallala) to move ahead 2-0. Finally, the Lopers used a 10-3 run to pull away in the third set and make the score 24-17. This spurt featured back-to-back blocks as well as two Wolfe kills.
Kearney ended the night hitting .191 with 53 kills, 9.0 team blocks, 94 digs and two aces. UCO came in at a .142 hitting efficiency and had 10.0 team blocks, 93 digs and one ace.
Wolfe reached her team-high kill total in 32 swings with zero errors (.406 pct.). Six others were between four and nine kills including Squiers, Puckett and junior outsideEmma Benton (G.I. Central Catholic). Defensively, McDonnell dug up a team-high 28 balls with junior outside Julianne Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.) supplying 20 more. Finally, Puckett had a team-high five blocks.
UCO star hitter Taylor Bevis had a rough night, hitting -.025 (7-8-40). Deschenes tried to pick up the slack by having 13 kills with two teammates having 10 apiece. Also for the ‘Chos, libero Dominique Lipari had match-high 35 digs.
UNK heads to Pittsburg State (18-10, 7-8) Saturday afternoon.