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Panthers Eliminated From NCAA Volleyball Tournament

Photo By: Elwin Huffman - Waterloo Broadcasting
Photo By: Elwin Huffman – Waterloo Broadcasting

The UNI volleyball team attempted to evoke the memories of a match played 16 seasons ago, but Creighton had other thoughts in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday (Dec. 1, 2016).

On Dec. 1, 2001, UNI rallied from a two-set deficit against Minnesota and reached the Sweet 16 of the 2001 NCAA Tournament with a 3-2 win in the West Gym. This time around the Panthers trailed 2-0 to the Bluejays at the intermission and nearly completed the comeback.

Creighton (27-6 overall) won by set scores of 25-16, 25-20, 24-26, 14-25, 15-12. UNI completes its season with an overall record of 24-10.

The Bluejays had their way with the Panthers in the opening two sets as Creighton pounded out 33 kills and limited UNI to only 15 kills.

The opening set was tied 8-8 until a 5-0 run by the Bluejays gave the No. 21-ranked squad the momentum. Creighton hammered away in the opening set and posted 15 kills with a .379 hitting percentage. UNI was held to to nine kills and eight attack errors for a .029 hitting percentage.

UNI trailed 10-5 in that second set before turning it around and taking a 17-13 lead. But just as quickly, Creighton erased the four-point advantage and tied the set at 17-17. After a 19-19 tie, Creighton scored three in a row and finished the set on a 6-1 run. Creighton added 18 kills in the second set, while UNI was limited to six kills and six errors.

Creighton appeared ready to close out the match with a 3-0 sweep as the Bluejays built a 24-22 lead in the third. However, the Panthers dug in and fought off two match points as the Panthers got kills from Piper Thomas and Bri Weber. Thomas then fired off two more kills to give the Panthers a dramatic 26-24 come-from-behind victory to force a fourth set. UNI’s offense caught fire in the third set with 18 kills and only four attack errors for a .311 hitting percentage.

The Panthers then turned it on in the fourth set with a 25-14 triumph. Weber collected five kills and four digs, while Thomas added three kills and three blocks. UNI held Creighton to a .000 hitting percentage in the fourth with 10 kills and 10 attack errors. UNI’s offensive effort contributed 15 kills and three errors for a .387 attack percentage.

Creighton scored the first three points of the set in a precursor of what was to come at the end. However, UNI fought back again and knotted the decisive set at 7-7, 10-10 and 12-12. Creighton then closed the set as it opened it by scoring the final three points for the 15-12 win. Creighton had seven kills and five errors in the fifth, while UNI had five kills and six errors.

Story Courtesy of UNI Athletics

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