The UNI volleyball team took on the Waves of Pepperdine University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, November 29, falling 3-2 with set scores of 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 13-15.
The Panthers managed to lead the majority of the first set before slipping in the final points and dropping the set. The Panthers fell behind the Waves early in the second set, fighting back the Panthers tied the match at 19-19 but could not hold off a final run by the Waves and dropped the second 25-21.
The Panthers took the third set in a dominant fashion, leading the majority of the set when senior Piper Thomas took over, recording a flawless set with six kills and no errors on nine total attacks. The Panthers rallied and took the set 25-19. The Panthers again dominated the fourth set, taking the set 25-20 to force the deciding fifth set. The Panthers trailed 8-4 at the court swap, the Panthers managed to tie the match 10-10 but fell in the final points 15-13.
Junior Karlie Taylor played one of her best matches of the year, finishing with 23 kills, 13 digs, and four solo blocks for a team-leading 27 points. Jaydlin Seehase and Piper Thomas each had efficient nights with each recording 13 kills while Kate Busswitz finished with 11 kills on 26 attacks for a .308 attack percentage.
The unsung hero of the match was freshman Inga Rotto who finished the night with 10 kills on 19 attacks. Rotto also recorded two block assists and a .421 attack percentage.
Rachel Koop recorded 58 assists on 150 attempts and Kendyl Sorge ended the night with nine assists. Sorge and Baylee Petersen each finished with 21 digs while Taylor Hedges lead the Panthers in that category with 22 digs.
The Panthers have finished the 2018 season with a 24-10 record. The Panthers were MVC Regular Season Co-Champions at 16-2 and MVC Tournament Champions. Three Panthers were named First Team All-MVC in Piper Thomas, Rachel Koop, and Karlie Taylor while Piper Thomas was named MVC Player of the Year. Kate Busswitz and Jaydlin Seehase each earned Second Team MVC honors. Three Panthers were named to the All-Tournament Team and the MVC Championships in Piper Thomas, Karlie Taylor and Kendyl Sorge with Piper Thomas being named Tournament MVP.