Kearney, Neb. – The eighth-ranked Nebraska Kearney volleyball team recorded 11 team blocks and rallied at the end of the third and fourth sets to get past rival Fort Hays State (-16, 17-25, -21, -19) Tuesday night in Kansas. With the win, the Lopers (24-3, 14-3) take the season series from the Tigers (10-15, 5-12) and now prepare for a first-place battle Saturday afternoon at No. 12 Northwest Missouri (19-5, 13-3). The Bearcats first must face Hays Friday night.
An improved FHSU squad has been a lot to handle all season as they fell in five sets at No. 18 Central Oklahoma and lost to both Central Missouri and Washburn in four sets. Tonight, they used 22 block assists and kills from eight different players to think about their 10th all-time win against UNK in 106 meetings.
Hays used six blocks and kills from seven players to win the second set by eight. They broke a 10-10 tie with a 7-3 run and never looked back. The Tigers then led the third set by scores of 8-5, 17-15 and 20-17 before the Lopers made a big move. An 8-1 closing run and a big momentum shift featured four unforced Tiger attack errors, an ace from setter Peyton Neff (North Platte) and block from middle Fallon Stutheit (Johnson) and outside Emersen Cyza (Alliance). UNK had six stuffs in this set as well as four kills from both Cyza and middle Bailee Sterling (Kearney).
Hays, however, didn’t go away in the fourth as they erased a 13-12 hole with a 4-0 spurt that featured back-to-back blocks by Riley Tinder and Emily Ellis. UNK called a timeout and the break worked as the Lopers scored 12 of the final 15 points.K
Libero Jensen Rowse (Minden) and DS/setter Rhianna Wilhelm (Henderson) both served up aces and had long serving runs with outside Asha Regier (Newton, Kan.) having a couple of kills. Hays, like the set before, hurt themselves with three unforced errors (two hitting and one service).
UNK out hit FHSU by exactly 100 points while having nine more kills. The Tigers had eight more digs, one more ace and 11.0 team blocks like the Lopers. Sterling (16) and Hays freshman Emilee Lane (13) combined for 29 kills to pace the offense. In Lane’s first collegiate match at home, she hit .357 and season-bests in both kills and blocks (six).
Next, Stutheit had seven kills and five blocks with Rowse at 23 digs and a .940 serve receive percentage. Finally, Neff dished out 44 assists, dug 12 balls, served up an ace and had two kills in four swings.
Hays was paced by Tinder (13 kills, three blocks), Ellis (10 blocks, three kills) and libero Jaden Daffer (31 digs).
Source: Regional Sports