UNI swept at Bluejay Invitational



The UNI volleyball team challenged themselves this weekend, taking on three nationally ranked teams. UNI lost all three matches, winning just one set throughout the weekend.

CADEN SHEA, Sports Editor

The UNI volleyball team traveled to Omaha, Neb. on Sept. 2 and 3 to compete in the Bluejay Invitational at the University of Creighton. The Panthers faced off against three ranked opponents in the form of University of Southern California (USC), Kentucky and Creighton. UNI fell short in all three matchups despite valiant efforts in every set.

The team started the tournament by facing the USC Trojans in their first match of the weekend. Emily Holterhaus took over the match with a season-high 20 kills. Carly Spies recorded her season-high of seven blocks and tied her career-high of three service aces. The Panthers were very aggressive in every set in their match against the Trojans. They dropped their first set but rebounded to win the second. This set was very back-and-forth but ultimately ended in the Panthers giving USC their first set loss of the season with a score of 25-22. The Panthers were defeated in their last two sets, losing the match against the Trojans.

The Panthers next challenge of the weekend was the University of Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats entered the weekend as the No. 16 ranked team in the country. Kira Fallert led the team in kills in this match with nine. Tayler Alden gave the Panthers 21 assists while Sydney Petersen added 12 digs in their second match of the invitational. UNI lost their first set 25-16 but attempted to keep it closer in a 25-22 second set. The third set was 25-14 in favor of the Wildcats. The Panthers put up a good fight, but it wasn’t good enough as they lost all three sets against the University of Kentucky.

The Panthers returned the second day to face No. 17 Creighton who held a home court advantage. UNI looked to recover from their two losses the day before in an effort against the Bluejays. Holterhaus had another good match with 11 kills while Spies and Inga Rotto both recorded eight. Payton Ahrenstorff tied her career best with three service aces in this match as well. Creighton took the first set 25-17 in a dominant serving performance despite the resilience of the Panthers. The Bluejays also won the second set with a score of 25-15. The Panthers looked to make a comeback in the third set of the match but were unsuccessful in a 25-21 loss for their final set of the invitational.

The Panthers ended the invitational in fourth place, going 0-3 in the weekend. The Panthers put on many gutsy performances proving that they were never truly out of any of their matchups against three ranked teams. Spies was awarded a spot on the 2022 Bluejay Invitational All-Tournament team due to her performances in the Panthers’ matches. The Panthers will return to Cedar Falls in their home opener on Sept. 9 with the UNI Invitational against Western Michigan, Southeast Missouri State and Grand Canyon. The Panthers are scheduled to meet up with Western Michigan at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, UNI will have a matchup with Southeast Missouri State at 12 p.m. followed by a match against Grand Canyon scheduled to start at 7 p.m.