Story by UNK Athletic Communications
Junior outside hitter Asha Regier tied her career-high of 17 kills and sophomore defensive specialist Addyson Mock had a big afternoon to help 12th-ranked Nebraska Kearney sweep Northwest Missouri State (-20, -17, -15) Thursday in a MIAA Tournament quarterfinal match in St. Joseph, Mo. The third-seeded Lopers (27-4) will face seventh-seed Missouri Southern State Friday at 5 p.m. in a semifinal match. The Lions (16-14) shocked No. 15 Central Oklahoma, 3-1, in today's first match. UNK swept the season series from MSSU and has won all 19 MIAA matches (since 2012) between the two. UNK came out a bit sleepy as it fell behind 10-2 in the first set. The Lopers had five hitting errors, two serve receive errors with head coach Rick Squiers having to burn both timeouts to stem the tide. "What could you really say. We said a few things the first (timeout) and we came out a little tight. But we also didn't have any energy," said Squiers on the KRVN Radio post-game show. "Sometimes when you take the court as the higher seed you think the other team is just going to win the game for you. It didn't take long for us to realize that we better show up here and right quick. "The Lopers flipped a switch as it closed on a 23-10 run and then trailed only briefly in the second and third sets. On the afternoon, UNK out hit Northwest by nearly 100 points (.250-.063), had nine more digs and was plus four in the serve game. "You don't win many sets when you get down 10-2 so I credit our team for making a big run right away. I think that sent a message that we're not going to give you the first set," said Squiers. "That made a huge difference in the match. "Regier (Newton, Kan.) had six kills in each of the first two sets and then five more in the third. She hit a stellar .484 (17-2-31) while also providing a block assist. Earlier this fall in a four-set home win over Emporia State, she had 17 kills in 36 attempts. "She might've played her best match as a Loper. In an effort to limit Emersen (Cyza) they adjusted their rotation a little bit. They wanted to shore up their block on the pin," said Squiers. "However, that's three rotations where you don't have that block and Asha kind of feasted on them. And once she got going, she was able to score against anything. "Next, Mock (Stilwell, Kan.) had her ninth match with a double digit dig total (12) and helped start the comeback in the first set with a long service run. After right side Jaden Ferguson (Lincoln SW) had a kill to make it 10-3, Mock served up five straight points to help the Lopers get back into things. She added another five-point run late in the third set. "Addy's been trying to find her niche in this lineup, and I thought she had one of her best all-around matches.," said Squiers. "Dug a lot of balls, played with confidence. On those long service runs, you have to have enough discipline to just let your team keep scoring. "Also for the Lopers, Ferguson had 10 kills and hit .310, freshman middle Mia Berg (Eureka, Mo.) had five block assists, four kills and a .308 efficiency with libero Lauren Taubenheim (Lincoln Pius) at a team-best 14 digs and a 12 of 13 effort in serve receive. Finally, setter Payton Neff (North Platte) was at 33 assists, eight digs, four blocks (one solo), two kills and an ace. Northwest had six players between three and eight kills with libero Kyah Luhring at a match-high 15 digs. This marks the third time in four years UNK has ended the 'Cats season.