Northern Iowan

Panthers take MVC lead as Sorge makes history

The+UNI+volleyball+team+took+over+sole+possession+of+first+place+in+the+Missouri+Valley+Conference+on+Saturday+night+with+their+3-1+win+over+the+Bradley+Braves.
The UNI volleyball team took over sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference on Saturday night with their 3-1 win over the Bradley Braves.

The UNI volleyball team took over sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference on Saturday night with their 3-1 win over the Bradley Braves.

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

The UNI volleyball team took over sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference on Saturday night with their 3-1 win over the Bradley Braves.

ELIOT CLOUGH, Sports Writer

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Over the weekend and into Monday night, the UNI Panthers volleyball team competed in three different conference matches at home against the likes of the Illinois State Redbirds, Bradley Braves and the Evansville Purple Aces.

The Redbirds and Braves are currently among the top four teams in the conference, along with UNI and the Valparaiso Crusaders.

In the Panther’s first match of the three-game stretch, UNI took on the Redbirds at the McLeod Center on Friday night. Illinois State was previously undefeated in conference play.

In this matchup, UNI won straight sets, 25-19, 26-24 and 25-12. The Panthers led in every single statistical category, including kills, hit percentage, aces and assists.

Karlie Taylor led the way with 18 kills, with an additional 11 kills from Kate Busswitz.

Rachel Koop added 36 assists as Kendyl Sorge had 20 digs and Piper Thomas contributed five blocks to the stat sheet for the Panthers.

Next up for UNI were the Bradley Braves on Saturday night. While the Panthers came out dominant in the first set against the Braves, they relinquished an 11-point lead, dropping in the set 25-22. In the next three sets however, with their backs against the wall, the Panthers once again flipped the switch and dominated down the stretch, winning the next three sets handily, 25-11, 25-17 and 25-13 to take the match three sets to one. The win also gave the Panthers sole possession of first-place in the conference, being the only undefeated team left on the season thus far.

Taylor set the pace for the Panthers for the second game in a row, garnering 23 kills on the night with an additional ace serve. Rachel Koop remained in her giving ways, adding 46 assists on the night.

The woman of the night, however, was Kendyl Sorge. With her 20th dig on Saturday night, Sorge moved into the 2,000 dig club as well as second-place in UNI history with a total of 2,003 digs, passing Amie Helds on the all-time list. Sorge now only trails Ellie Blankenship, who recorded 2,656 digs in her career for the Panthers.

UNI defended their first-place position as they took on the Evansville Purple Aces on Monday night. Coming into this match, the Aces were 1-7 in conference play and 7-13 overall. As many expected, the purple and gold won in straight sets defeating the Purple Aces 25-22, 25-21 and 25-21.

Again, leading in kills for the Panthers was Karlie Taylor, obtaining 20 on the night. The junior currently leads the Missouri Valley Conference in kills per set with 4.82. Koop, as in the two games prior, led UNI in assists with 39. Koop, a redshirt junior, leads the conference in assists per set with an average of 11.6.

Coming up next for the Panthers (13-6), they will have two road matches at Southern Illinois and Missouri State. Southern Illinois is currently 4-15 overall and 0-6 in conference play. Missouri State is currently 10-9 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

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Panthers take MVC lead as Sorge makes history