Kearney, Neb. – The No. 1 ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team closed on a 7-2 run to sweep the California Vulcans (-16, -18, -22) Saturday evening in Western Pennsylvania.
The Lopers (12-0) swept the Bloomsburg Huskies (-17, -15, -11) earlier in the day to go 4-0 on the weekend. These four matches were part of Cal’s Vulcan Invitational.
As expected the tilt against CUP (7-5) was the toughest in the tourney as UNK was down 20-18 in the third set. Overall, the match featured 21 ties and seven lead changes with the Lopers finally moving ahead in the third thanks to an unforced error and ace from junior outside Julianne Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.). That made the score 23-21 and was part of a 7-4 Loper run.
Kearney closed out California thanks to two kills from sophomore outside MK Wolfe (Omaha Marian). The Lopers ended with 45 kills as six different players were between four and nine.
Senior setter Lindsey Smith (Dakota Dunes, SD) had 36 assists, five digs, three aces and two kills in the win. She represented UNK on the all-tournament team as she came in 11.7 assists, 1.9 digs, 0.8 kills, 0.8 aces and 0.5 blocks per set for the weekend. Smith guided an offense that hit .282 and averaged 13.7 kills per set.
UNK started the day with a rare match against a first-year program. The Lopers managed 9.0 team blocks against the Huskies (3-5) with Grand Island sophomore Mackenzie Puckett providing the most trouble with seven stuffs. Kearney also dug up 60 balls led by 17 from senior libero Ellie McDonnell (Papillion).
Offensively, balance was again the key as seven different players were between three and nine kills. Wolfe hit .400 with Grand Island junior outside Emma Benton coming in at .348 with a team-best nine kills.
UNK heads to Emporia State and Washburn next weekend.