Panthers drop three matches at home

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Panthers drop three matches at home

COURTESY PHOTO/UNI Athletics

COURTESY PHOTO/UNI Athletics

COURTESY PHOTO/UNI Athletics

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

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Coming off of a two-game win streak in Texas, the Panther volleyball team was looking to keep the momentum alive facing Creighton, USC and Kentucky over the weekend. 

The first game against the Creighton Bluejays on Friday, Sept. 6 attracted a large crowd as Panther nation was ready to watch UNI’s first home game of the season.  Feeding off the energy from the crowd, the Panthers finished off the first set strong, winning 25-19, before dropping the next two sets, 25-22, 25-22. The Cats fired back in the fourth set taking it 25-18, but fell in the fifth set 11-15. Despite the loss, the Panther women put on a strong performance as Karlie Taylor finished the night with 29 kills, Rachel Koop racked up 49 assists and three other Panthers recorded double digits.

Saturday saw UNI take on two big-time schools in USC and Kentucky. The Panthers took the first set over the Trojans with a narrow 25-23 victory to go up 1-0. However, the Cats couldn’t maintain their prowess.  In the next three sets, the Trojans downed the Panthers 25-20, 25-15 and 25-22 to finish off the match. Koop added to her assist total with 36 to put her up to 85 assists on the weekend, while Taylor added 24 kills for a total of 53.

On Saturday, Sept. 7, the Panthers sought their first win of the weekend against Kentucky.  However, a tough challenge lied ahead against the No. 12-ranked Wildcats.  The Panther women were able to pull off the upset in last year’s tournament in Pasadena, CA, with a narrow 3-2 win, but the Wildcats proved to be too much to handle this time around.  The Purple and Gold were unable to get their game going in the second half of the doubleheader, resulting in a 3-0 loss. The Panthers fell 25-18 in set one, 25-20 in set two and 20-25 in the final set. Two of UNI’s best players showed up again as Taylor contributed ten kills along with 11 digs, and Koop tallied 27 assists.

Creighton walked away with first place in the tournament, followed by Kentucky and USC.  UNI finished fourth. The Panther will travel to Ames as they face the Cyclones on Tuesday, Sep. 10. 

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