Kearney, Neb. – Freshman outside hitter Julianne Jackson had a season-high 15 kills, seven digs and three aces to help fifth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney sweep Pittsburg State (-16, -16, -7) Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.
This is the Lopers (23-1, 8-1) 29th straight home win while the Gorillas drop to 4-16 (2-6).
UNK went on big scoring runs in each set. First, Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.) served up eight straight points in set one, giving the Lopers a 15-5 lead. The stretch included back-to-back kills from sophomore outside Kendall Schroer (Ogallala).
The Lopers hit just .231 in each of the first two sets but Pitt didn’t even reach .100. In set two, Kearney sophomore defensive specialist Morgan Stute went to the service line with UNK down 4-2. She promptly served up six straight to force Pitt to call timeout.
Later in the set, Stute served up three more points, one coming off a kill from Jackson.
Finally, UNK hit a sparkling .452 (17-3-31) in the third set. Senior right side Annie Wolfe (Omaha Marian H.S.) went back to serve with the Lopers up 7-5. When she was done, it was 19-5.
This was Jackson’s favorite set as she had seven kills and hit .500. Overall, she finished with a .433 efficiency to reach double digits in kills for a third time.
“I think we played alright. We got a bit complacent at the end of the first and second sets but, as a whole, we were able to control of things,” said Loper head coach Rick Squiers. “Tomorrow’s match has been looming for a while so it’s hard not to think about it a little bit. But you have to win this one to make that one even more important.”
Sophomore setter Lindsey Smith (Dakota Dunes, S.D.) had four kills and no errors in seven swings while handing out 34 assists and digging up nine balls. Finally, Wolfe had nine kills, a team-best 14 digs and five assists.
“In the third set, we didn’t make as many unforced mistakes. I thought in the first two sets, it wasn’t a big number, but it was just enough to let them hang around a bit longer than usual,” said Squiers. “We jumped on them in the third set and played clean.”
UNK hosts No. 10 Central Oklahoma tomorrow night. The Bronchos (21-1, 7-1), who went 2-0 vs. the Lopers last fall, got past Fort Hays State tonight in four sets.