UNI beats Drake, falls to Loyola in MVC tournament

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

Following an unprecedented spring volleyball season, the UNI Panther volleyball team took the court in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament last week, hosted by Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. With a conference record of 7-7, the Panthers were matched up with in-state rivals Drake in the first-round quarterfinal matchup last Thursday. After sweeping the Bulldogs, UNI moved on to play the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago in the semifinals the next day, whom they lost 3-1.

UNI completed a clean sweep of Drake on Thursday, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-20. The first set between UNI and Drake was a back-and-forth affair. With the two teams keeping close at 15-15, UNI gained the advantage following five consecutive points, capped off by blocks from Taylor Alden and Kaylissa Arndorfer. The five-point swing was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome, as the teams traded points the remainder of the set with UNI winning it 25-19. In set two, the Panther women got out to an early 6-2 advantage, followed by a Drake run which knotted the score at 10 apiece. Similar to the first set, UNI ran a five-point rally again, putting them in the lead 20-14. Drake made a run at the end to narrow the score at 24-21, but a kill from Emily Holterhaus assisted by Alden sealed the set victory for the Panthers and put them up 2-0 in the game. With their in-state rivals on the ropes, UNI took full advantage. In similar fashion to the first two sets of this game, the Panthers and Bulldogs traded points back-and-forth for much of the contest. Drake had opened a slight two-point lead at 17-15, when the Panthers scored seven of the next nine points to swing the momentum late. The 22-19 lead held for Northern Iowa, as they completed the sweep of Drake with a 25-20 victory and a ticket to the semifinals in the conference tournament the next day.

Emily Holterhaus led the Panthers in kills with 11 and Kaylissa Arndorfer had 10 in the game. The Panther women had a kill percentage of almost 18% in the game, while Drake could only muster 11%. UNI also had seven aces, while the Bulldogs did not have a single one in the entire game.

In the semifinal matchup on Friday, UNI fell to Loyola-Chicago 3-1 by scores of 17-25, 25-17, 24-26 and 23-25. The Ramblers eventually fell to Illinois State in the MVC championship game the next day.

UNI got out to a slight advantage of 15-13 in the first set, but a Loyola run of 12 of the next 14 points gave them the set victory at 25-17. The second set was much more favorable for the Panthers as they led for much of the way and eventually capped off the set with a 25-17 win, countering the same score of the first set. With the game tied at 1-1, the next two sets proved to be extremely hard-fought and competitive between the two MVC rivals.

Neither team led by more than three points in the third set. The Ramblers got out to a 10-7 lead, but the Panthers swung it back to take a 19-16 lead later in the set. A five-point rally from Loyola put them up 21-19, but a four-point swing by Northern Iowan put them back in fron 23-21. Loyola answered back with two more points of their own to tie it at 23 all, but a kill by Emily Holterhaus gave UNI the 24-23 advantage. With the Panthers needing only one point to win the set, the Ramblers rallied for three straight points and a 26-24 set victory.

Similar to the entire tournament, the fourth set was close and back-and-forth. UNI lead 19-15 before their opponents rallied for five in a row to make the score 20-19. The set and the game ended on a four point rally by UNI to make the score 23-20, followed by five consecutive Loyola points to put them over the top with a 25-23 set victory.

The UNI kill percentage was about 18% in the game, while the Ramblers were at 21%. Emily Holterhaus led the way with 15 kills and Carly Spies had 13. The Panther’s season will end as they will not receive an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. They will turn around and play the regular season next fall.