Successful start for UNK volleyball

UNK volleyball rallies together during team drills on April 5, 2017 (NTV News)

HONOLULU, HI --– UNK volleyball's sense of time was flipped on its collective head with a trip to Hawaii this week, and it's had no effect on their performances, going three-for-three in the early goings.

Senior outside hitter Kaitlynn Thomas had 17 kills to help third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney sweep the Chaminade Silverswords (-14, -12, -20) Saturday morning in Honolulu.

This season-opening match was part of the Hawaii Challenge and began at 12:00 a.m. Central time on Saturday.

Thomas (Yutan), who has led UNK in kills per set each of the last two years, powered an offense that hit .404 (47-11-89) against CUH. She reached her kill total in a team-best 30 swings and was one of four Lopers to hit at least .400.

Not to be outdone, junior outside Kendall Schroer (Ogallala) had 14 kills and hit .310. She also provided three blocks (two solo) at the net as UNK held Chaminade to 29 kills and a .140 attack percentage.

UNK rolled through the first two sets but found itself in down 3-1 in the third. The Lopers came back to lead 12-9 but the 'Swords hung around, making in a four-point deficit on a kill by Emma Tecklenburg. A kill from sophomore middle Mackenzie Puckett (Grand Island) and an unforced CHU error made it 22-16 and two kills by Thomas and one from Schroer ended the night.

Besides the outside production, junior setter Lindsey Smith (Dakota Dunes, S.D.) had 30 assists, four digs, three kills in three attempts and one of UNK's five aces. Finally, senior middle Tara Ziegelbein (Lincoln Lutheran) had five kills, five digs, an ace and assist.

Chaminade was paced by Tecklenburg (seven kills, six digs and two assists). This was the first of three matches on the day for the Lopers.

The "Squierettes" went on to sweep Hawaii Pacific (-18, -17, -20) and Seattle Pacific (-14, -19, -16) Saturday evening in Honolulu.

Against tourney co-host HPU (0-2), the Lopers hit .418 and served up four aces to win in three sets. Lincoln junior middle blocker Tara Ziegelbein had one of the most efficient days in school history, hitting .765 (14-1-17), with Yutan junior outside Kaitlynn Thomas providing 11 kills.

The Sharks hung around in each set but hit just .188 (35-16-101). The Lopers managed 2.0 team blocks and dug up 42 balls to stymie the HPU offense.

Besides Ziegelbein and Thomas, freshman right side Anna Squiers (Kearney Catholic) had seven kills and hit .462 and freshman middle Madison Stearnes (Millard South) provided four kills in seven swings.

In the late match against the Falcons (2-2), UNK hit a solid .284 while serving up nine aces, blocking nine balls and having 31 digs.

A balanced attack saw Ogallala junior outside Kendall Schroer have nine kills and three digs with Ziegelbein at seven kills and five blocks. Next, freshman Mary Katherine Wolfe (Omaha Marian) had three of the aces with Papillion junior libero Ellie McDonnell at a team-high 10 digs.

UNK faces eighth-ranked Lewis University (2-0) Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Central.

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