Kearney, NE -- The sixth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team had season-highs in blocks and digs to rally past 16th-ranked Central Oklahoma in five sets (22-25, -20, 17-25, -17, -9) Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.
UNK (15-1, 3-1) pushes its home court winning streak to 61 in a row and hands the Bronchos (15-3, 3-1) its first MIAA loss of the fall.
Central Oklahoma bombed home 17 kills to win the third set by eight and then held leads of 7-4 and 10-7 in the fourth. However, the Lopers used a 7-0 run to get back into the match. Senior libero Ellie McDonnell (Papillion) was the server during this spurt that featured four kills and two blocks. Now up 14-10, UNK rolled to an eight-point win to knot things up.
The momentum continued for the Blue & Gold as they grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth. While UCO scored four of the next five points, that would be only time UNK trailed in the set. Sophomore middle Anna Squiers (Kearney Catholic), returning from the disabled list, had three kills as part of a 4-1 run to make it 11-8. The Lopers finally closed out the 'Chos thanks to four more kills, two coming from sophomore right side Mary Katherine Wolfe (Omaha Marian).
UNK ended the night with 13.0 team blocks and 114 digs; UCO was very close behind in these categories with 113 digs and 9.0 team blocks. The Lopers out hit the 'Chos by almost 50 points, .196-.149, but was minus four in the serve game.
McDonnell managed a match-high 37 digs, one off her career-high. Next, sophomore outside Julianne Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.) had a career-high 33 digs with Wolfe adding 18 and senior defensive specialist Morgan Stute (Kearney Catholic) providing 13 more. UCO libero Dominique Lipari had 33 digs to pace her team in the back row. Overall, nine players in the match had a double digit dig total.
At the net, Jackson and Squiers both had four blocks with three of Jackson's being of the solo variety. UCO saw sophomore middle Malia Kaaiohelo have a match-high six stuffs.
Offensively, Kearney's offense came from Jackson (17), Squiers (15) and Ogallala senior outside Kendall Schroer (16) as the combined for 48 kills. Squiers had four of hers in the fifth set with Jackson hitting a team-best .333. UCO star outside hitter Taylor Bevis took 79 swings and ended with 17 kills (.076 pct.). Sophomore Haley Deschenes picked up the slack by having 19 kills and hitting .283.
The Lopers host Pittsburg State (14-3, 3-1) Saturday at 3 p.m.