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UNK Volleyball sweeps Central Oklahoma, advances to MIAA semifinals

Lopers also place seven on All-MIAA team in 2021
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 10:47 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Redshirt sophomore outside Emersen Cyza (pronounced sigh-zah) had 23 kills overall and hit .800 in the third set to power No. 12 Nebraska-Kearney over Central Oklahoma (-20, -17, -13) Tuesday night in an MIAA Tournament first round match at the Health & Sports Center.

The red-hot and fourth-seeded Lopers (25-5) advance to Friday’s semifinals in Warrensburg, Mo. The opponent will be No. 3 and top-seed Central Missouri (26-3); the two split the regular season series. First serve time is to be announced.

UNK has now won 12 in a row and also pushes its’ MIAA Tourney win streak to 16 straight. That streak includes the 2021 MIAA Spring Invite; the Lopers last tourney setback was a 2015 semifinal setback to UCM in Edmond, Okla.

Cyza (Alliance) averaged an even 4.00 kills per set over the last 11 matches and that number will only rise after a scintillating performance tonight in the third. She had 12 kills in 15 attempts with zero errors. She fittingly ended the match with back-to-back kills; earlier she strung together three in a row to make it 9-5 and force UCO (19-10) to call timeout.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a performance like that. It almost became comical … about every time she touched the ball it was a kill. What just keeps coming to mind it was Steph Curry-like,” said Loper head coach Rick Squiers. “It was you want it down the line, I’ll hit it down the line. You want it cross court, you want a roll shot, you want me to hit it 100 miles an hour. I think she figured out they weren’t able to get stops at the net.”

A 2021 first-team All-MIAA pick, Cyza’s final line was 23-2-38 (.553). Outside Jodi Armknecht holds the UNK record for kills in a sweep, set in a 1997 win over nationally-ranked Metro State (24-3-48; .438). That was done in the side out scoring area. In the 30-point scoring era, outside Ashley Solt hit .759 (23-1-29) in a 2005 win at Western Colorado.

“It was one (kill) right after another in succession. It seemed like she got six or seven points in a row. I really think it began to wear on UCO. Every time we set her, I think they were a little jumpy,” said Squiers. “She has a big arm and they weren’t quite sure where (the ball) was going.”

UNK didn’t trail until early in the third set as it out hit the ‘Chos .368-.135. The Lopers came in have hit .400 in its last two matches. Defensively, Kearney had 9.0 team blocks as well as 62 digs, 20 more than UCO.

In their final home match, middle Anna Squiers (Kearney Catholic) had 11 kills, three block assists, three digs and hit .435 with setter Madison Squiers (Kearney Catholic) at 43 assists, 15 digs, two kills and two block assists. Finally, senior back row aces Lindsay Nottlemann (Lincoln Pius) and Breanna Jones (Littleton, Colo.) combined for 25 digs, eight assists and an ace.

UCO was paced by Brynn Egger (seven kills, three digs, .280 pct.).

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