Senior middle Jeri Walkowiak had a school-record 31 kills to lead the 8th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team to a five set win over Regis (-22, 23-25, -18, 18-25, -8) Friday night in an RMAC Tournament semifinal match at the Health & Sports Center.
UNK , the top seed in the eight-team tournament, will play 3rd-seed and 12th-ranked Metro State this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s championship match. The Roadrunners got by West Division champion Mesa State in four sets (-14, -20, 26-28, -21) yesterday.
A see saw battle featured a combined 18 ties and seven lead changes over the first two sets but UNK then led the third start from start to finish while Regis did the same in the fourth set.
To pick up a 27th straight win over the Rangers, the Lopers needed to win a five set match for the first time this year. Prior to tonight, UNK’s four losses had come in five sets to Tampa, Mesa State, Wayne State and Metro.
Like the third and fourth sets, there was little drama as UNK jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the final set and eventually built up a 13-4 cushion. A kill from Walkowiak got the Lopers to match point and then a kill from freshman middle Ellie Pesavento ended the night.
The RMAC Player of the Year, Walkowiak took 10 swings in the fifth set and recorded six kills. She also had nine kills, on 12 swings, in the third set. Besides her offense, Walkowiak also had a team-high six blocks and five digs.
Another Grand Island High graduate, outside hitter Kelli Bunger, held the previous UNK record for kills in a match when she had 29 in a five set win over Fort Lewis in 2006.
For the match, UNK pounded home 74 kills while hitting a solid .260. The Lopers also dug up 105 balls with Regis having 11.0 team blocks and recording 62 kills.
Outside of Walkowiak, Pesavento had 13 kills and .429 while senior outside Kelsey Werner had 10 kills, four digs and three blocks. In the back row, senior libero Katlyn Heiserman and sophomore Kaleigh Anderson combined for 45 digs.
Four Rangers were in double digits in kills, led by RMAC Freshman of the Year Christina Henzgen and fellow outside Caitlin McDonnell. Henzgen also had 15 digs with libero Sage Martinson having a team-high 22 digs.