Listen to the podcast here.
Kearney, Neb. – Freshman middle Madison Stearnes had nine kills and six blocks to help sixth-ranked Nebraska Kearney beat Bethany College in four sets (-13, -19, 18-25, -13) Tuesday night at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers (21-2) have now won 48 consecutive home matches while the NAIA Swedes, from Lindsborg, Kan., fall to 7-18.
UNK used 15 different players and rested starters Kendall Schroer (outside hitter), Tara Ziegelbein (middle hitter) and Ellie McDonnell (libero). Fellow starters Josie Cox (middle), Lindsey Smith (setter) and Anna Squiers (right side) appeared in sets one, two and four.
“Things were going really well until 4-0 in the third set. We committed three straight unforced errors where they didn’t have to do a thing. Then they made a couple of plays and all of a sudden you’re in a tough spot,” said Loper head coach Rick Squiers. “We didn’t handle that very well. Hopefully, if you were out there, you understand the fine line between winning and losing in college volleyball.”
Ten different Lopers managed a kill with Stearnes (Millard South) having the most. UNK hit .123 (48-29-155) but had 13 more digs than the Swedes, 77-64, and was plus three in the serve game. Both teams managed nine team blocks.
“We saw some of the things we were hoping to see and accomplished some of the things we were hoping to accomplish. In no way did we have the expectation that we would drop a set to Bethany,” said Squiers. “No disrespect to them by any means; they competed really well, did some good things and I was actually impressed with them.”
Playing all four sets, Stearnes had season-highs in kills, blocks (three solo) and digs (five) while hitting .375. She also had one of UNK’s four aces. Next, senior right side Ali Scheil (Estes Park, Colo.) had the second hottest hand, having six kills in 16 swings (.312 pct.) with Smith having four kills in four attempts. She also had 28 assists and four digs.
“I loved how Madi competed tonight. One thing they could do was block a little bit. They put up a good block in the middle and on the right running a six-two and she seemed to figure that out,” said Squiers. “Ali came in and took some great swings and Morgan did a good job in the libero spot.”
In the backrow, junior Morgan Stute (Kearney Catholic) dug up a 19 balls with sophomore outside Julianne Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.) having 20. Finally, senior Emma Schroer (Ogallala) had seven digs and an assist.
Kim Stringer (10 kills & four blocks) and Azucena Duarte (17 digs, five kills & four blocks) paced Bethany. UNK is at Missouri Southern State and Southwest Baptist this weekend.