Kearney, Neb. – Junior middle Anna Squiers had a big offensive night and senior outside Julianne Jackson recorded her 100th career service ace to help third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney get by Pittsburg State (-24, -16, -20) Friday night in Kansas.
The Lopers (19-0, 10-0) remain unbeaten and improve to 37-3 all-time against the Gorillas (9-10, 4-6).
It’s always a grind for UNK to win in John Lance Arena and nothing changed tonight as Pitt dug up 72 balls and had 39 kills to hang around. The Lopers left with the win thanks to a .238 hitting efficiency and some late runs in the first and third sets.
UNK broke a 14-all tie in set one thanks to a 7-2 run that featured kills by four different players and an ace from junior setter Madison Squiers (Kearney Catholic). Soon after the Lopers seemingly were in a very comfortable position up 24-19 but Pitt fought off five set point thanks to two kills, an ace, block and unforced Loper attack error. During this stretch Kearney had called its second and final timeout.
Not surprisingly, UNK turned to Jackson (Bonner Springs, Kan.) in the big moment and she responded with a kill. The set ended when freshman middle Michaela Bartels (Bennington) turned a Pitt overpass into a kill.
Hitting .311 (11-1-32) to control set two, UNK got out to leads of 4-1, 7-3 and 12-9 in the third before Pitt battled back like in the first set. They tied things up at 17 but the Lopers responded as Squiers (Kearney Catholic) and Jackson had two kills apiece as part of a 7-1 run. Fittingly a Squiers killed ended the match.
Out hitting Pitt by 66 points, UNK also was plus two in the service game. Jackson had one of the team’s six aces and it came in the second set to make the score 18-12. With that she becomes just the 10th Loper in the past 24 years to reach triple digits in kills.
She also supplied 14 digs, 10 kills and a solo block with Squiers having match highs in both kills (14) and hitting efficiency (.571). That percentage is a season-high effort and came in 24 swings. Next, junior right side Mary Katherine Wolfe (Omaha Marian) had 10 digs and eight blocks with Squiers at 31 assists, nine digs, two aces, a kill and solo stuff.
Finally Pitt was led by sophomores Meg Auten (10 kills), Erika Ivkov (14 digs & 11 kills) and Marissa Bates (20 digs).
UNK heads to Missouri Southern State tomorrow at noon.