Panthers advance to 11-8, clench No. 1 in MVC

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Panthers advance to 11-8, clench No. 1 in MVC

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

BRIELLE KIEWIET, Sports Writer

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UNI volleyball now sits at 5-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference after sweeping Valparaiso, Missouri State and Southern Illinois.  Heading into conference play, head coach Bobbi Petersen knew the challenge that was ahead.

“I look at conference season as definitely a grind in a different way,” Petersen said. “It’s a time of year where you definitely have to show up, be focused [and] be disciplined match-in and match-out.”

The Panthers took a road trip to Indiana to face Valparaiso, defeating the Crusaders with set scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-19 on Monday, Sept. 30. The team played strong both offensively and defensively, hitting .313 and out blocking the Crusaders 10-1.

Kaylissa Arndorfer finished with 15 kills on 25 swings to finish with a .520 hitting percentage. The Waterloo native also had four blocks during the match. Kate Busswitz, Inga Rotto and Jaydlin Seehase all added over seven kills. Setter Rachel Koop had 36 assists and 12 digs.

The Panthers followed their 3-0 win with another sweep against Missouri State on Friday, Oct. 4. The Panthers dominated the Bears with set scores of 25-23, 25-22 and 25-20.

Busswitz and Taylor led the team in kills with 11 and 10, respectively. Koop continued her strong play into this match with another total of 36 assists and five digs. The senior setter hit a strong percentage of .800, impressing coach Petersen who called it a “huge stat.”

The Panthers had a quick turnaround travelling from Springfield, Mo., to Carbondale, Ill., overnight to face Southern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 5.  The Panthers chased down the Salukis in their third straight sweep in just a week, defeating SIU 25-16, 25-19 and 25-15.  The win put UNI at the top of the MVC leaderboard with a 5-0 record against conference opponents.

Taylor and Busswitz showed up again with double digit kills at 14 and 11, respectively. Koop totaled 41 assists and 10 digs.

Coach Petersen is looking forward to the season ahead after advancing to 11-8.

“I feel like this year we are a lot deeper than we’ve been in terms of people that can come off the bench and have significant impact,” Petersen said.

Up next, the Panthers will take on the Bradley Braves at home on Friday, Oct. 11 and Illinois State on Saturday, Oct. 12.

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