Kearney, Neb. – The fourth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team scored the final two points in the fourth set and rolled in the fifth to rally past 24th-ranked Regis (13-25, -19, 21-25, -24, -8) Tuesday night in Denver. The Lopers (17-1) improve to 4-0 in five-set matches this fall and have now won 32 in a row over their former RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conf.) rival. The Rangers (10-6) last win over UNK came back in September 1999; that was the first RMAC regular season match for Loper head coach Rick Squiers UNK won despite being out hit, .207-.193, and having eight fewer kills and six fewer digs. Both teams recorded 12 team blocks, six aces and seven service errors.
Regis did cool off the down the stretch, seeing its hitting efficiency drop by over 100 points. That led to seven more attack errors, 29-22, than the Lopers. In a match with 22 ties and nine lead changes, the closest set came in the fourth. This set was highlighted by 15 ties and six lead changes. A kill from Ogallala senior Kendall Schroer tied things up at 23; UNK had led 16-13 with the Rangers having scored the first three points in the set. Regis called a timeout after Schroer’s kill and that helped briefly as six-four junior middle Nikki Kennedy tied things up with a kill. The Rangers then committed an attack error but UNK responded with a service error. Sophomore right side MK Wolfe (Omaha Marian) then stepped up, recording a kill and ace to force a deciding set. Kearney got out to a 4-0 lead in the fifth thanks to a kill from junior outside Julianne Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.), an ace by senior setter Lindsey Smith (Dakota Dunes, SD) and two unforced Regis attack errors. The Rangers didn’t get closer than two points the rest of the way with a kill by Jackson closing out the match. Regis ended the set hitting -.069 (4-6-29).
Schroer paced a balanced offense with 16 kills; she’ll need just seven on Friday night at Missouri Western State to become the 28th Loper to reach 1,000 in a career. Next, Jackson (18 digs and 14 kills) and Wolfe (15 digs and 10 kills) had double doubles with junior middle Josie Cox (North Platte) coming off the bench to have eight kills, six blocks and a team-best .467 hitting efficiency. Finally, Smith had 36 assists, eight digs, four kills and three aces with senior libero Ellie McDonnell (Papillion) at a team-best 20 digs. Regis also had an all-around effort as Kennedy finished up with 18 kills, eight blocks and a .306 hitting percentage with sophomore outside Caitlyn Burroway at 16 kills and 13 digs. Finally, junior right side Isabelle Gosar had 14 kills, five digs and four blocks. UNK is at MWSU (9-7, 2-3) Friday and Northwest Missouri State (13-3, 5-0) on Saturday.