Seven of top nine teams descend on Kearney for Central Regional

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - For the 21st straight season, the Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team (33-0) is in the NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament. The second-ranked Lopers host the Central Region for the seventh time in school history and for the second straight year, (1995, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2018).

Of the eight teams coming to face off at the Health and Sports Center, seven are ranked in the top-nine of AVCA's Division II volleyball rankings. The Lopers have advanced to the Elite Eight five times (1995, 1996, 2003, 2004, and 2005), but have not advanced to the second round since 2012.

UNK volleyball coach Rick Squiers has been with the Lopers since 1999 and in that time he has guided them to two perfect seasons (2004, 2019) but no Final Four appearances. It certainly does not help Squiers' squad to play in the toughest region in the nation.

"It's Division one volleyball. It's mid-level at least, division one volleyball and so that's what you kind of have to be able to do to function in this region," Squiers said. "Once you get into that regional, we've learned the hard way that it's hard to win games. We've loved to do better than we have in recent years."

Tournament begins Thurs. Dec. 5 with the Lopers facing eight-seed Oklahoma Baptist (28-5) at 7:30 p.m. CT.