Senior outside Ariel Krolikowski had a season-high 19 kills as the 4th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team swept 6th-ranked Central Missouri (-17, -15, -17) Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.
This was the Lopers regular season home finale; Kearney will host an MIAA Tournament first round match Tuesday night (Nov. 13th) at 7:00 p.m.
A season-high crowd of 2,003 watched a match that had MIAA regular season title and NCAA Tournament implications.
The evening was also highlighted by Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen Lianna Prill singing the National Anthem and the attendance of University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman for the first two sets.
To sweep an 11th straight opponent, UNK turned to an offense that ranks first in the MIAA in kills, assists and hitting efficiency. The Lopers had 20 kills in the first set and finished the evening with 20 more than the Jennies, 56-36.
Trailing only a few times all night, UNK used a 9-0 run early in the first set to gain the momentum and race out to an 18-8 advantage. All nine points came via the kill with Krolikowski having four.
Kearney jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second set and then saw junior outside Ashley Leitner (Lincoln SW) serve up 10 straight points to break an eight all tie in the third set. That run featured seven Loper kills.
To have the second most kills in her UNK career, Krolikowski (Grand Island) took 53 swings and hit a solid .264. Leitner supplied seven kills, seven digs and a .304 hitting percentage with freshman right side MJ Massaent (Manhattan, Kans.) digging up 19 balls, having five kills and handing out six assists.
Most of those assists were on kills by senior setter Jenna Rouzee (GI Northwest). Five of her eight kills came in the first set and she ended the match hitting a team-best .412. Rouzee also had 44 assists and five digs.
Finally, middles Ellie Pesavento (Omaha Marian) and Katie Sokolowski (Kearney Catholic) combined for 17 kills and sophomore libero Liz McGowan (GI Central Catholic) had a match-high 34 digs.
As a team, UNK hit .293 and had 82 digs on the defensive end. UCM (23-5, 15-2) hit just .170 and also had three service errors and three reception errors. They were led by Carly Sojka (19 digs and nine kills).
Tomorrow morning, the Lopers will get on the bus and travel five hours to face 3rd-ranked Washburn in Topeka. The Lady Blues (30-1, 15-1) swept Lindenwood tonight to push its winning streak to 16 straight and to record a 50th straight home win, dating back to September 2009.
The match starts at 6:00 p.m. with the winner being the 2012 MIAA regular season champ and the top seed in next week’s eight-team conference tournament.