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Washburn Uses Balanced Attack to Win in Kearney Again

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Kearney, Neb. – The third-ranked Washburn Ichabods had four players tally at least 13 kills and four players register at least 12 digs to beat top-ranked Nebraska-Kearney in four sets (-22, -20, 21-25, -16) Saturday night at the Health & Sports Center.

This was the opening weekend of MIAA play with Washburn now 10-1 (2-0) and UNK at 9-1 (1-1).

A veteran Ichabod squad ended UNK's 66-match home court winning streak during the 2018 season and tonight ended a 28-match home win streak.  They did so by out hitting the Lopers by over 100 points, tallying 18 more kills, 11 more digs, and 9.5 more blocks. WU also was solid in serve receive, staying in system most of the night while putting pressure on UNK from the other side.

"Give them some credit. They played and game planned us well. They have a good team and we weren't able to make them uncomfortable in serve receive. On the flip side they did a little bit of that to us," UNK head coach Rick Squiers said. "The one stretch where we did have some success (third set) is because we had a server back there (Breanna Jones) who was bothering them."

On a senior-laden squad, freshman outside Jalyn Stevenson came through with 16 kills, 16 digs, two blocks and a .261 hitting percentage. She had 11 digs in the fourth set alone and was strong in serve receive. Next, senior outside Genna Berg got hot late to the tune of 15 kills in 46 swings with five digs.

"We had only one service error all night so we probably didn't serve tough enough. They just didn't fear us from the service line," Sqiuers said. "They just have too much fire power to let them run whatever they want do."

In the middle seniors Kelsey Gordon and Allison Maxwell had 13 kills apiece with Sydney Fitzgibbons supplying eight more. Maxwell also had eight blocks with WU hitting .302 (17-4-32) in the fourth.

There were 22 ties and 10 lead changes with the 'Bods taking advantage of two close line calls in the first to lead 22-20. They closed on a 3-2 run with a Gordon kill closing things out. UNK jumped to a 5-1 lead in the second but the 'Bods recorded 19 kills in this set to eventually open up an 18-14 lead.

Loper middles Anna Squiers and Bailee Sterling combined for nine kills in 13 swings to help the Lopers control most of the third set. UNK erased a 13-10 hole with a 10-5 run with a Sterling kill making it 2-1 on the score board. WU, however, rolled in the fourth to become the fourth team since 1999 to win twice in the H&S Center (Metro State, Colorado Mines and West Texas A&M).

"We still have a chance to do some really good things and I like our team. I think they know there's a little more than what we saw tonight in there," Squiers said.

Squiers finished with team-bests in kills (13), blocks (five) and attack pct. (.308) with Sterling at 11 kills. Finally, Alliance sophomore outside Emersen Cyza was at 10 kills with Jones at 16 digs and three aces.

UNK hosts Hastings College Monday at 5:30 to close out a seven-match home stand.

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