Kearney, Neb. – The sixth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team aims for its 28th all-time NCAA Tournament victory Thursday afternoon when it takes on 26th-ranked Missouri Western State in a Central Regional first round matchup in Marshall, Minn.
The Lopers (33-3) and Griffons (24-10) will square off at approximately 2:30 p.m. Southwest Minnesota State is serving as regional host and has setup awebsite with information and live media links. The match can be heard locally on The River 93.1 FM. By NCAA rules, the live video web stream is free. This regional features six teams that are ranked in the Top 25 and Head coach Rick Squires says that makes it really tough.
Third-seeded UNK is in the “Big Dance” for a 19th straight year, the second longest active streak behind only the University of Tampa (22 years). While this trip has become old hat for the Lopers, sixth-seeded Mo Western hasn’t qualified since 2000 and is 0-2 all-time in the NCAA’s.
Kearney and the Griffs are beyond familiar with each other as they’ve squared off three times this fall, twice since November 11. In these three matches, UNK has outscored Mo West by a slim 187-183.5 margin with the Griffs hitting 40 points higher, .188-.146. Both squads average just over 13 kills per set with the Lopers having slight advantages in both blocks and digs. Squires breaks down round four.
The Loper/Griffon winner will play Friday at 5 p.m. against either two-time defending national champion Concordia-St. Paul or MIAA-rival Central Oklahoma.