ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Senior outside Julianne Jackson, junior right side Mary Katherine Wolfe and freshman outside Kamryn Schuler combined for 38 kills and second-ranked University of Nebraska at Kearney dug up 104 balls to beat Missouri Western State 25-14, 23-25, 25-17, 25-18 Saturday night in St. Joseph, Mo.
With the road win, the Lopers (28-0, 18-0 MIAA) secure a piece of the regular-season title. This marks UNK’s fourth straight season with at least a share of the regular-season crown and the 16th regular-season title of the Rick Squiers era (1999-pre.)
Things got off to a roaring start as the Lopers hit .395 (17-0-43) to roll in the first set. However, the Griffons held off UNK in the second set as the Lopers uncharacteristically committed nine unforced errors (five attack, three service, and one ball handling). The Lopers still almost won the set, as they came back from deficits of 14-11, 21-18 and 24-21 to make it 24-23 on an ace from junior middle Anna Squiers. But one of those unforced errors allowed the Griffons to escape and tie the match one set apiece.
A 12-4 run in the third set allowed UNK to take control of the match. That broke a 9-all tie and featured three straight kills by Wolfe, another Squiers ace and four unforced Griffon miscues. The Lopers closed the night on an 8-4 run with Jackson having six of her 13 kills in the set.
The 104 digs are the third most this season, trailing only 110 against Rockhurst and 107 at Northwest Missouri. Both of those were also four set wins. Wolfe (25), sophomore libero Lindsay Nottlemann (23) and Jackson (16) led in digs with Wolfe’s tally a new career-high.
Wolfe had 13 kills, Schuler was at 12 and freshman middle Michaela Bartels had nine.
UNK hosts Missouri Southern and Pitt State this weekend to close out the regular season.