Panthers split games with Loyola-Chicago

UNI split their two games with Loyola-Chicago on Sunday and Monday. Their record on the season is now 7-11 overall and 7-7 in MVC play.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

The final two volleyball home games of the 2020-21 season pitted UNI against the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago this past Sunday and Monday. The two teams came into the contests looking to fight for a position in the standings of the Missouri Valley Conference, which will determine their seedings for the conference tournament in two weeks. The Panthers entered the first game with an overall record of 6-10 and 6-6 in conference play, while Loyola came in 7-6 overall and 6-6 in the conference as well. The first game on Sunday afternoon lasted all five sets, with UNI eventually coming out on top 3-2. The second game on Monday went to the visiting Ramblers by the score of 3-1.

The first set of game one started out promising for the Panthers, as they ran away with it 25-13. With the score close at 15-13 in favor of UNI, the Panthers scored the next 10 points unanswered and took the first set easily. Set two was much more even. Loyola led by the score of 17-9 at one point, before UNI was able to narrow down the gap, even taking a lead of 23-22 at one point. However, the Ramblers scored three consecutive points en route to the 25-23 win, knotting the game up at one each.

Set three was again dominated by the Panthers as they again won by the score of 25-13. With Loyola leading 9-8, UNI scored 12 out of the next 13 points and never looked back, taking the 2-1 game lead and looking to seal the win in the next set. However, Loyola was able to bounce back.

The Ramblers answered back in set four with a 25-21 victory and knotted up the game at two apiece. Loyola scored nine out of the last 10 points in the set to seal the victory, sending the first game of the two game series into the fifth and final set.

UNI easily handled the fifth set, winning 15-6, which was the seventh conference game win of the season. Emily Holterhaus led UNI in kills with 21, followed by Inga Rotto and Kaylissa Arndorfer with 13 each. Baylee Petersen, Kaylee Donner and Arndorfer all had three aces for the Panthers as well. Sarah Murczek had nine kills for Loyola, and Emily Banitt had eight.

The second game of the two-game split got underway on Monday evening. Both the Panthers and Ramblers traded sets to start the game, with each team winning a set by the score of 25-18. In the third set with Loyola leading 23-18, the Panthers scored five in a row to tie things up at 23 each. After both teams traded points to make the score 24-24, Loyola sealed the set with the final two points and the 26-24 win. The final set was held mostly in control by the visitors. UNI’s lead only extended to 5-3, and the Ramblers took the lead soon after and never looked back in their 25-18 win, which sealed the game 3-1.

UNI drops to 7-11 on the year and 7-7 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Their final two games of the season will be on the road at Bradley on Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 before the MVC tournament begins on April 1-3 in Normal, Ill. hosted by Illinois State University.