CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Juniors Anna Squiers and M.K. Wolfe combined for 26 kills and junior setter Maddie Squiers had an all-around big night to help the University of Nebraska at Kearney upset Division I Wyoming in four sets (25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22) Saturday night in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Just over 1,000 fans packed the gym at Cheyenne East High School to watch the preseason exhibition match between the Lopers, ranked 11th in NCAA Division II, and the Cowgirls, tabbed second in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll. In an event that lasted nearly two hours, temperatures hovered well into the 80s in the air conditioner-less facility.
Despite the heat and having a week less of practice than their Division I counterparts, the Lopers were more than ready for the task, as they controlled the first two sets and rallied from five down in the third to lead 22-21. While the Cowgirls rallied in that set, they couldn’t overcome holes of 4-0, 16-12 and 20-17 in the fourth. A service ace from Anna Squiers ended the match.
“We’re very encouraged and pleased from what we saw from our team tonight. This was a true road environment and I think we handled it well, playing from ahead and never letting the crowd get too involved,” UNK coach Rick Squiers said. “This was a rare opportunity for us to play care-free. … We usually have the target on our backs but we were the underdog for a change.”
Wolfe had the hot hand over the first two sets and finished with a match-high 14 kills in 31 attempts (.355). She also supplied 11 digs, three blocks, two aces and two assists
“She had a very snappy arm, especially in those first two sets. MK has gotten stronger every year and is following a similar grown pattern that (her sister) Annie went through,” Squiers said.
Annie Wolfe was the NCAA Division II player of the year in 2016.
Anna Squires, from the middle, had five of her 12 kills in the third set. She hit .333, dug up four balls, blocked two more and had one of UNK’s six aces. Her Sister, Maddie, had an exceptional Loper debut as she handed out 44 assists, had six digs, five kills, four blocks and three aces. Maddie was a two-time All-American for Bellevue before redshirting to UNK last year.
“Maddie was as good as we could’ve hoped for. She ran our offense extremely well and her will to win helped us down the stretch,” Squiers said.
UNK also saw sophomore Lindsay Nottlemann have 23 digs from the libero spot, senior outside Julianne Jackson provided nine digs and eight kills while freshmen Michaela Bartels and Kamryn Schuller combined for five kills, four digs and three blocks.
UNK was out-hit .215 to .205 but was plus-3 in the service game and had just one fewer team block than the much taller Cowgirls.
Wyoming, posted a 20-11 mark in 2018, had several Nebraska natives on its roster and was led by 6-foot-4 sophomore outside KC McMahon (12 kills, three digs and a .308 efficiency).
UNK has its annual Blue/White scrimmage at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Health and Sports Center.
So. Dakota State to play Loper men’s basketball team
The University of Nebraska at Kearney men’s basketball team will play South Dakota State Dec. 15 in Brookings, S.D.
Game time has not been set.
The game will be an exhibition contest for the Lopers but will count on the Jackrabbits’ schedule.
UNK and South Dakota State last played in the semifinals of the North Central Regional in 2003. The Lopers came from behind to win en route to their only Elite Eight appearance.