By: Ben Adamson
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Missouri State’s volleyball team went the distance at UNI for a second consecutive match Monday evening but fell 15-11 in the fifth set for its first Missouri Valley Conference loss of the season.
The Bears (9-2, 5-1 MVC) still sit atop the league standings one-third of the way through the schedule despite the 25-18, 17-25, 23-25, 27-25, 11-15 setback, and served 11 aces in the contest for their fifth double-figure match of the season, the most at MSU since 1990.
“We played hard tonight,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “Azyah Green and Reagan Casey did a nice job offensively and our serving was on point most of the night. We are fortunate to come away with a split this week and it’s nice to still be sitting at the top of the league.”
A wild fifth set punctuated a back-and-forth match, with Missouri State falling behind 4-1 before rattling off a 7-0 run with freshman Rylee Fay at the service line to lead 8-4. The Panthers (3-6, 3-3) answered with a pair of 5-0 runs, leading 10-9 after the first and finishing the match with the second after MSU led 11-10, using four aces in the final period to secure the win.
MSU’s 10th consecutive match of at least four sets began with a solid first stanza in which Casey had three of her career-high 11 kills in an 8-1 run to 20-14 as the Bears hit .333 in the opening period.
The Bears spotted UNI a 13-7 lead in the second set and never recovered, and Fay served three of her four aces to help MSU to a 23-22 advantage in the third before UNI closed on a 3-0 run.
Missouri State rallied from a 9-3 deficit to win the extended four set, taking its first lead at 18-17 and fighting off one match point before Brooklyn Cink and Green had kills to extend the match.
Cink had 16 kills and 11 digs for the double-double, and Amelia Flynn added 16 kills of her own while finishing one dig shy of her 10th consecutive double-double.
Green tallied five blocks, while Fay, Cink, Holly Luginbill and Teagan Polcovich all served multiple aces. Polcovich led MSU with 13 digs, and Kennedee Anderson handed out 37 assists.
Missouri State returns to Hammons Student Center Feb. 21 to begin a four-match home stand with a 2 p.m. contest against Drake. Admission is free to all home matches this season with a capacity of 1,250 fans.