Peter Yazvac, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relaions
KEARNEY – Senior middle Josie Cox had 13 kills and three blocks to help second-ranked Nebraska-Kearney sweep NAIA Sterling College from Kansas (-14, -19, -9) Tuesday night at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers (24-0) current 24-match win streak is tied for the sixth longest in school history and is the third best of the RickSquiers (1999-pre.) era.
Playing the Warriors (13-18) for the first time in 29 years UNK hit an even .500 (47-7-80), the fourth highest attack percentage in school history. The Lopers had at least 14 kills and didn’t commit more than three errors in any set. Besides an efficient offense Kearney also served up eight aces and out dug Sterling by a 34-20 margin. Finally, the Warriors had 11 unforced attack errors.
Cox (North Platte) reached her match-high kills total in 17 swings with only one miscue (.706 pct.) in playing all three sets. Fellow senior middle Mackenzie Puckett (Grand Island) also started and had three kills in four swings.
“Really happy for Josie … she played really well. She’s been giving us a contribution throughout the year as more of a situational blocker. For her to be able to get out there and get involved with the offense is encouraging and really good to see,” UNK head coach Rick Squiers said. “We have a lot of volleyball left against high level competition and I think it leads us to believe there’s going to be a time and place we might need her to come in and do those very same things.”
Ten other Lopers had at least one kill including nine by Grand Island senior outside Emma Benton and six from North Platteredshirt freshman outside Sami Mauch. Next Imperial junior setter Taylin McNair had 17 assists, five digs and four kills with Stuart junior Monique Schafer at 10 digs and three aces. Finally Sterling got 20 digs from libero Carmin Butterworth.
The Lopers host nationally-ranked NW Missouri State and Central Missouri this weekend.
“I think everyone on our roster knows that it’s a different situation going into this weekend. Everybody we play from here on in will be putting up a lot of resistance. They have their own firepower and so we’ll be living in close sets and close matches and we’ll have to be comfortable doing that,” Squiers said.