Panthers fall in Round of 32



UNI’s bench rushes to the floor after UNI secured their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2017, taking down Florida State 3-0.

ADAM JOHNSON, Sports Writer

Following their victory in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship, the UNI Panthers went on their way to the NCAA Tournament. UNI traveled to Minneapolis, Minn. to go up against Florida State in the first round on Friday. They did come out victorious against the Seminoles, and then they were matched up against No. 8 Minnesota in the second round on Saturday. The Panthers could not continue their winning ways, and lost in the final game of their season.

First up for the Panthers were the Florida State Seminoles on Friday. The first set was as close as could be, neither team got on any big runs, and the biggest lead in either direction was just two points. However, the Panthers did have a timely run in at the end of the set. When they were down 24-22, they went on a 4-0 run to finish off the set, and take the opener, 26-24. To make that run, Inga Rotto had two kills, Emily Holterhaus had one and Florida State helped out a bit with an attack error for the final point.

The second set looked like it was going to be just like the first, with both teams going back and forth. The score found itself at 15-15, and that is when the Panthers got things going. They tallied up four in a row to go ahead 19-15, a lead that would prove to stick throughout the set. In fact, by the end of the match the Panthers extended the lead a bit more, and won 25-19.

The third set had UNI up 2-0, with a chance to send the Seminoles back home early. When down 10-8, the Panthers went on a big 5-0 run to give themselves a 13-10 lead. Once the Panthers took the lead following this run, they never gave it back the rest of the set. The Seminoles came close on several occasions, bringing it within one point a couple different times, but they could not bring it all the way back. The Panthers completed the sweep, winning the third set 25-21.

Next up for the Panthers was No. 8 Minnesota. In the first set, the Panthers snagged a narrow lead early on, but Minnesota got things going later in the set. When the Panthers led 16-14, Minnesota went on a 6-0 run to take a 20-16 lead. UNI only got two more points, so Minnesota ended the set with an 11-2 run, winning 25-18.

The second set did not start well for the Panthers, as Minnesota jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead. Things did not get much better either, as quickly that lead was extended to 11-3. The Golden Gophers ran away with this one, as UNI could never get the lead any closer than six points, and ultimately lost it 25-16.

In the third set, the Panthers would have to win to keep the season alive. Unfortunately, Minnesota was just too much for UNI. They maintained a solid lead early on, but really expanded it when they went from up 13-6 to up 17-6. The Gophers would extend the lead all the way up to 22-10. The Panthers brought a little life late in the set, tallying five straight points, but it was not enough, as they lost 25-15. The Gophers completed the sweep of UNI, 3-0. 

This was not the way the Panthers would have liked the season to end, but it was a great year for UNI volleyball. The Panthers were regular season and tournament conference champions, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, winning their first NCAA Tournament game since 2017 and finished with an impressive 27-8 record.