GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Omaha volleyball team opened the 2016 campaign Friday evening, falling 3-0 (17-25, 12-25, 18-25) to North Dakota in the UND Classic at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The Mavericks are now 0-1 (0-0 Summit League) on the season, while the Fighting Hawks improve to 1-0 (0-0 Big Sky).
Junior outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey finished with a team-leading seven kills and a match-high 14 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Kayla Torson matched her with another seven kills, as well as six digs and a service ace.
Junior setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy totaled 25 assists, eight digs, three kills and a team-best two blocks for the night, and freshman libero Ashley Smith added 11 digs and four assists of her own.
North Dakota was led by 10 kills from Tamara Merseli. Sydney Griffin finished with 30 assists, guiding the Fighting Hawks to a .308 team hitting percentage. UND also outblocked the Mavericks, 7-2.
Omaha led early in the opening set, taking a 3-1 lead on a kill by senior rightside hitter Nicki Carson, a Torson ace and a block by O’Shaughnessy and freshman middle blocker Ellie Brown. North Dakota worked its way back and grabbed a four-point lead at 12-8 with the help of a Chelsea Moser/Jordan Vail block and three straight kills from Merseli and Moser. The Mavericks later pulled within one when a block by O’Shaughnessy and junior middle blocker Amanda Conlin, paired with a Conlin kill, made it 15-14.
The Fighting Hawks then took the next three points, forcing a UNO timeout at 18-14. Omaha came through with a Horkey kill out of the break, but UND rattled off six straight scores to bring it to set point at 24-15. A UND service error followed by an O’Shaughnessy kill staved off the Fighting Hawks, but a Merseli kill on the next play gave North Dakota the first game, 25-17.
In the second set, UND hit .435 with just one attack error as a team while holding the Mavericks to -.088 hitting. The Fighting Hawks worked out to a 4-1 advantage, but a Horkey kill halted the start. North Dakota went on a 7-0 run from there, then pushed it to an 11-point lead at 17-6. Horkey followed with a kill to cut the margin to 10, but UND’s momentum continued as it built a 24-11 edge. With the Mavericks facing set point, Brown struck with a kill, but the Fighting Hawks then finished it with a kill from Moser for a 25-12 decision.
Game three saw UNO and UND tie 11 times, bringing the set to a 13-13 lock. UND took the lead on a Moser kill and a Maverick setting error, and after a Torson kill made it a one-point game again, the Fighting Hawks pushed ahead to 18-14 on back-to-back kills and another Maverick miscue. North Dakota hit its largest lead at 22-15, then matched that again at 23-16. After a Horkey kill made it 23-17, the Fighting Hawks reached match point on a UNO service error and seized the sweep two plays later on a kill by Faith Dooley for a final tally of 25-18.
Omaha returns to action on Saturday, Aug. 27, continuing play with two more matches at the UND Classic. The Mavericks face UC Davis at 9 a.m., followed by Ole Miss at 4:30 p.m., and links to live stats will be available on OMavs.com.