UNI loses conference road opener to Loyola



The UNI volleyball team lost their first conference road game against Loyola in four sets. They will travel to Missouri State for their next match on Friday.

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

The UNI women’s volleyball team hit the road for their first conference road game after a three-game home stretch as they traveled to Chicago to face the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers. UNI came into the game with a 6-10 overall record, and a 1-2 conference record and their opponents  came in 11-5 and 4-0 in conference play, so the Panthers knew they were in for a challenging road opener. UNI was coming off back-to-back losses, so a win against the top Missouri Valley team would get them back on track in a big way.

The first set saw UNI take their first lead at 3-2. Loyola battled back, however, and tied it at nine. Loyola took the lead 11-9 and never trailed again in the set. UNI got the score within one at 17-16, but Loyola pulled away to win the set 25-19.

The second set was back-and-forth. Loyola pulled ahead to a 14-11 lead, but UNI stormed back to tie it at 14 and then again at 16. After that, UNI seized control, going on a 9-0 run to end the set and win with a score of 25-16, evening up the series 1-1.

In the third set, Loyola dominated early, taking a 3-0 lead and eventually getting up by as much as 10 with the score at 17-7. UNI didn’t give up and battled back to get within two at 22-20. The Ramblers held on to the lead, however, and grabbed a 25-22 win to get to two wins in the series.

The final, deciding set saw the Ramblers get out to a 4-0 start and never look back. They never trailed and took the set and series with a 25-17 win.

Emily Holterhaus once again led the way for UNI in kills with 15 and also posted 11 digs. Carly Spies posted a career-high 10 blocks, which was the first double-digit game for UNI since 2017. Tayler Alden and Jenna Brandt posted 26 and 19 assists, respectively. Payton Ahrenstorff led with 17 digs.

Loyola was led by Addie Barnes, who had 15 kills to go along with 14 digs. Taylor Venuto posted a near double-double with eight kills and nine blocks. Lane Jenkins had a whopping 32 assists to lead the way for the Ramblers.

The Ramblers improved to 12-5 on the year and with a 5-0 conference start, Loyola is on top of the Missouri Valley. The Panthers dropped to 6-11 and 1-3 in conference play, putting them at eighth in the standings. They will stay on the road against Missouri State on Friday. Missouri State is 2-2 in conference play, so a win would create a tie at 2-3, allowing UNI to move up in the standings. The road game is followed by the final game in the road trip against Southern Illinois on Saturday.