Panthers stay perfect in the MVC

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  • After another perfect weekend, the Panthers remain the only undefeated team in Missouri Valley Conference play at 6-0.

  • Kira Fallert (9) had a standout performance in the 3-1 win over Illinois State, finishing with a season-best 20 kills.

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BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI volleyball team ended Homecoming week on a high note, extending their winning streak to six straight after a dominant weekend featuring two matches in the McLeod Center against Bradley University (5-14, 1-6 MVC), on Friday, Oct. 7, and against Illinois State (8-10, 1-6 MVC) on Saturday, Oct. 8 following the football loss to the Redbirds.

On Friday, the Panthers continued their dominance over the Missouri Valley Conference as they quickly took care of Bradley winning three straight sets. UNI won the first set comfortably 25-18, before winning a close set 25-23 to go up 2-0. The final set was highlighted by three separate four point runs boosting UNI to a 25-17 win and securing the match 3-0. Following this match UNI had won nine straight sets over their last three matches. 

Inga Rotto led the team in kills totalling 11 in the match followed by Olivia Tjernagel and Kira Fallert who each had six. Carly Spies and Tjernagel tied for the team lead in blocks with seven apiece. Fallert finished with six blocks as well. Sydney Petersen accounted for half of the Panthers total aces with two. UNI also did not allow Bradley to score a single ace throughout the three sets.

Illinois State took the first set on Saturday winning a back-and-forth contest 25-21. UNI countered winning an even closer set during which they trailed by as much as eight points before ending the set on a 12-3 run to win 25-23. In the third set, after starting off on a 10-3 run, Illinois State was able to fight back and keep the set close until the Panthers ultimately won 25-22. In the fourth set of the night, UNI put together two separate 5-0 runs, helping carry them to a comfortable 25-15 victory. With this, the Panthers won the match 3-1.

Fallert had a great match, leading the team with a season high 20 kills, just one kill shy of tying her career high. Rotto also had double digit kills, tallying 10 herself. Tjernagel and Rotto both finished with two blocks. Payton Ahrenstorff led the Panthers in aces totalling three in the match. 

UNI continues to sit at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference rankings with a 6-0 conference record as well as a 13-6 record overall. They have won 12 of their last 13 matches dating back to Sept. 9. The Panthers have only lost 13 of 49 sets over that span as well.

UNI will finish a five game homestand this week with three matches in five days. The Panthers “White Out” match will feature a tough opponent on Tuesday, Oct. 11, as they play Drake (14-5, 5-1 MVC), who is currently the number two team in the conference. This match will take place at 6 p.m. in the McLeod Center. Friday, Oct. 14, UNI will host the University of Illinois Chicago for their “Pink Out” match. Finally, Saturday, Oct. 15, the Panthers will play their second match of the season against Valparaiso.