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Northern Iowa continues mastery of Wichita State volleyball

  • The Wichita Eagles
  • Published Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at 9:47 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, at 6:44 a.m.

Northern Iowa’s volleyball team is making Koch Arena its favorite destination. UNI won its fifth straight match in Wichita on Saturday and what makes things worse is that the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament is back here in November.

UNI swept the Shockers (25-23, 25-21, 25-23) for the third straight season. The Shockers last took a set off the Panthers in 2010 and since lost 12 straight. The loss knocked WSU into a tie with Northern Iowa and Illinois State atop the MVC.

“It’s hard to swallow,” WSU middle Ashley Andrade said. “It’s not a great feeling to have somebody come and beat you at home in front of your hometown fans.”

UNI (17-6, 9-2) controlled the match with its serving and aggressive defense. Libero Amie Held recorded 20 digs and three aces, leading a defense that held WSU (20-5, 9-2) to a .181 attack percentage. The Shockers committed 20 attack errors and spent most of the night in scramble mode, unable to run its offense and get the ball to Andrade.

“They won the serve-and-pass game,” WSU coach Chris Lamb said. “The scramble rallies went to them. They turned bad situations into good situations. Certainly, we didn’t dig to kill like they did. We were scrambling and not getting swings.”

WSU defeated the Panthers 3-1 in September in Cedar Falls, hitting .350 for the match and .515 in a 25-15 final set win. UNI went to school on those weaknesses and flipped the match in Wichita. They held Andrade to nine kills (.562 attack percentage), down from 18 in the first meeting.

“We served really tough, definitely better than at our place,” UNI coach Bobbi Petersen said. “We’re not probably going to stop (Andrade), but we can try to slow her down. We mixed it up. Sometimes we’re triple-blocking, sometimes we’re one on one. We try to at least make her think about it.”

With WSU’s offense off track, setter Chelsey Feekin had to move off the net and set high balls to the pin players. Ashlyn Driskill recorded ninie kills, but the other attackers struggled. Katie Reilly committed seven errors and Sam Sanders had four kills on 20 swings.

“We weren’t challenging them,” Feekin said. “We were timid the whole night. We try to set our middles, and that obviously was not going well.”

Macy Ubben led UNI with 12 kills. Shelby Kintzel added nine.

WSU wasted a 20-17 lead in the first set. UNI grabbed a 21-20 lead when Reilly swung into a double-block. Kills by Andrade and Driskill gave the Shockers a 22-21 lead. The Panthers tied it on a kill by Leigh Pudwill and took a lead on an ace by Amie Held. WSU libero Dani Mostrom, thinking the serve was long, ducked under it and the ball landed in.

UNI went up 24-23 when Ubben punched in a kill after a scramble for the ball on both sides. The Panthers won on Driskill’s attack error.

The Panthers controlled the second set from the start, building a 6-0 lead on Elizabeth Field’s attack error. The Shockers hit .075 in the set, committing nine attack errors. WSU closed to within 8-7 but could not tie or take the lead. WSU made a move to cut the lead to 17-15, only to surrender four straight points, two on aces by Held and Kinsey Caldwell.

Lamb switched liberos in the third set, going to Alyssa Carney. WSU led 20-19, 22-21 and 23-22 but couldn’t extend the match to a fourth set.

“All we can do now is win our matches — put this behind us and learn from it,” Feekin said.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.

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