Loper volleyball caps off another week with a sweep

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Senior outside Julianne Jackson and freshman middle Michaela Bartels had 10 kills apiece and senior outside Emma Benton had a strong serving run to help third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney sweep Missouri Western State (-13, -15, -17) Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.

UNK (17-0, 8-0) finishes 2-0 this week and now gets ready to host fifth-ranked Washburn Tuesday night. The Ichabods, who were swept by the Lopers in September, beat Missouri Southern State in five sets tonight. They play at Pittsburg State on Saturday afternoon.

Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.) reached kill total in just 24 swings with no errors, good for a .417 efficiency, with Bartels (Bennington) having 26 attempts and a .231 percentage. UNK hit a solid .300 against a Griffons squad (9-6, 3-4) that dug up five more balls than the Lopers.

"From a defensive standpoint they had stretches where it was impossible to get a ball down on them. As the match was going on if it was close they were all over the place but if we could crack it open things got a little easier," said UNK head coach Rick Squiers.

Things were tight in the opening set when Benton (G.I. Central Catholic) stepped to the line with UNK ahead 10-9. She didn't leave until it was 20-10 as she recorded one ace and her teammates provided six kills and two blocks. Finally, Mo West called both of its timeouts during this long run.

The Lopers weren't pushed again until the Griffs went on an 8-3 run late in the third set to trail by a 16-15 score. A kill by freshman outside Sami Mauch (North Platte) and back-to-back Mo West errors gave UNK some breathing room and they closed things from there.

"No one had been able to sweep them in our conference. They have a lot of weapons and we were able to get control of, in my opinion, a really difficult conference match that sits on the schedule. We have only one match this weekend, Washburn's coming in Tuesday and there was a lot of scary things about how they were playing."

Defensively for the Lopers, Jackson and Lincoln sophomore libero Lindsay Nottlemann had 14 digs apiece with Kearney junior middle Anna Squiers at a team-best five blocks. Finally, UNK had five aces including one by Jackson who now has 99 in her career.