UNK Volleyball: #15 Lopers Dominate Pitt
Kearney, Neb. – The 15th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team was strong from the service line and redshirt junior libero Lindsay Nottlemann reached the 1,000-career dig milestone to help the Lopers dominate Pittsburg State (-11, -14, -14) Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.
This was a matchup of two teams battling for fifth place in the MIAA standings. The win helps the Lopers (14-5, 5-5) snap a two-match losing streak and tie the Gorillas (10-5, 5-5) for fifth.
In a rare occurrence there was no ties or lead changes all night as UNK jumped on Pitt from the opening serve and never let up. They grabbed early leads in all three sets and didn’t let the Gorillas back into things. A lot of that had to do with strong work from the service line as the Lopers had three aces and kept Pitt out of system.
“Tracking this back three or four matches our serve-and-pass game has been really good. Even against (No. 1) Washburn we thought we were even or a little ahead,” said Loper head coach Rick Squiers. “Tonight against a Pitt squad who isn’t consistently offensively potent as Washburn it gives you a chance to score and go on runs. We put pressure on them from the start and also got some key early block touches that maybe got into the minds of their attackers.”
Kearney redshirt junior middle Bailee Sterling and Alliance redshirt sophomore Emersen Cyza paced an offense that hit .277 as they combined for 22 kills. Pitt, meanwhile, hit .017 and tallied 24 kills on the night.
“I thought early we were really clean. The first set we were as sharp as we could be … we came out focused, we executed the game plan and kind of knocked them back on their heels,” said Squiers. “The first half of the second set it was the same thing and then we played a little bit to the level of the score. We got to do a better job there but this was a win we needed and I don’t want to be nitpicky.”
Sterling hit .429 to have a team-best 12 kills with Cyza at 10 kills in 28 swings. Next, Kearney senior middle Anna Squiers had eight kills, hit .444 and served up an ace with Nottlemann (Lincoln Pius) at a team-high 17 digs. Finally, the Lopers continued to tinker with its lineup and substation pattern.
“We’ve been doing that the last few matches and it’s just the way it works out. It’s both of our outsides and we leave a server in there. They (subs) aren’t staggered out just by the way we make the timing of the subs,” said Squiers. “To get something for our effort tonight, to get a win was huge. We appreciate everyone coming out and making the H&S Center a tough environment.”
Two years ago Pitt junior outside Meg Auten had 22 kills as her team dropped a five-setter to on Buckle Court. She warmed up late to have 12 kills but needed 37 attempts to do so. Finally for PSU, libero Marissa Bates had a match-high 19 digs.
Nottlemann is now at 1,011 digs which doesn’t include the “non-countable” 2021 spring season. She amassed 689 digs in 2019 as the starting libero while managing 383 in 2018 as a defensive specialist.
“Good for her and not surprising at all. One thing about Lindsay is she plays the left back cross court defense where a lot of outsides have thought to themselves I’ll just go up and hit it as hard as I can but she’s there,” said Squiers. “That’s a whole bunch of digs in a short period of time.”
Senior DS Breanna Jones (Littleton, Colo.) also is a member of the 1k club. Like Nottlemann, she wasn’t able to rack up any numbers as a junior but tallied 696 digs in two years at D2 Bridgeport (Conn.) and has recorded 204 as a Loper (1,056 overall).
Missouri Southern State visits tomorrow at 3 p.m.