UE Volleyball Makes History In Win At UNI

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UE Volleyball Makes History In Win At UNI

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – It was a historic evening for the University of Evansville volleyball program, which earned its first-ever win road win over UNI on Friday at the McLeod Center.

Entering Friday’s contest, the Purple Aces (14-4, 4-3 MVC) were 0-26 in road matchups against UNI (7-13, 2-5 MVC) and 2-54 overall.  That all changed as Evansville rebounded from a loss in the first set to earn a 3-1 win.  Friday’s result also marked the fourth consecutive Missouri Valley Conference victory.  It is just the second time UE has won four league matches in a row since joining in 1994.  The previous streak came in 1998 with wins over Drake, Creighton, Southern Illinois and Indiana State.

“We are happy with the win because we did not have our best game, but we still pulled off the win,” UE head volleyball coach Fernando Morales said.  “That is what great teams do!  After the first set, I told our team that we are going to lose sets and that is okay.  The important thing is to keep playing our game because that is the only way we can get out of a hole.”

Perhaps the biggest point of the night came from Laura Ruiz.  With her team in front by a 28-27 score in the third set, Ruiz came through with one of her three service aces to clinch the set and give her team a 2-1 lead.  Giulia Cardona led all players with 19 kills while Melanie Feliciano and Alondra Vazquez recorded 16 and 10, respectively.  Rachel Basinski reset her season mark with 15 digs while Vazquez recorded 11 on the way to her 10th double-double of the season and fourth in a row.

Taya Haffner paced the team with 42 assists while fellow freshman Madisyn Steele added five block assists.  UNI saw Kira Fallert lead the way with 14 kills while Payton Ahrenstorff tied Basinski’s mark with 15 digs to lead all players.

Set One – UNI 25, UE 17

It was the Panthers who grabbed the early momentum, cruising to a 25-17 win in the opening frame.  UNI broke a 3-3 tie with two in a row and they would not trail again.  Evansville showed its fight after falling into a 17-12 hole, scoring three in a row to get back within two.  Vazquez picked up a kill in the rally, but UNI answered, finishing on an 8-2 run to take a 1-0 lead.

Set Two – UE 25, UNI 16

Falling into an 0-1 hole on the road is usually tough to overcome, but that was not the case on Friday for the Aces.  Putting together its most dominant set of the night, the Aces turned a 5-5 tie into a 9-5 lead and would never look back.  Cardona, Steel and Feliciano all had kills in the initial run.  Up by a 15-10 score, Evansville padded its lead when consecutive Feliciano kills extended the advantage to 19-11.  Laura Ruiz would later record her first ace of the night before Vazquez picked up the kill that clinched a 25-16 win to tie the match.

Set Three – UE 29, UNI 27

Game three was the difference-maker with neither team willing to give in.  Evansville had the early momentum and looked to be well on its way to a 2-1 lead.  A Rachel Basinski ace, coupled with a kill by Steele, gave UE a 7-3 lead.  The Panthers stormed back with three in a row to get within one, but UE countered and took a 13-9 edge as Hannah Watkins picked up a kill.  The Aces continued to remain in front when a Cecilia Thon ace was followed by consecutive UNI errors that gave the Aces a 20-15 lead.  The Panthers were not ready to give up and scored five in a row to tie the score.  Evansville jumped back in front at 22-21 thanks to a Feliciano kill, but the Panthers continued to battle back.  With the score tied at 26-26, Coach Morales challenged a call that resulted in a Feliciano kill to put his team in front.  After UNI tied it up, Evansville took control.  Alondra Vazquez put her squad back in front with a kill before Ruiz came through in the clutch with her second ace of the night to clinch the set by a 29-27 final.

Set Four – UE 25, UNI 20

On the cusp of its first road win at UNI, the Aces knew the opposition would not go away easily.  UE jumped out to a 7-4 lead but a huge Panther run saw them score seven out of eight tallies to take an 11-8 lead.  Giulia Cardona took matters into her own hands, picking up three kills in a row to help her team retake the lead at 12-11.  Both squads dueled it out down the stretch, battling to a 17-17 score.  That is when another Cardona kill, coupled with Thon’s second ace of the match, began a 4-0 run that was capped off when Vazquez tallied her 10th kill.  From there, the Aces held strong on the way to a 25-20 decision and a 3-1 match final.

Another road tilt is on tap Saturday when Evansville faces Drake in a 5 p.m. match at the Knapp Center.

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