Mavs split in St. Louis

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ANDREW NELSON
CONTRIBUTOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha volleyball team took a loss on the road Friday after traveling to St. Louis, Missouri for the Billiken Invitational, which was hosted by Saint Louis University. Omaha lost the opening match to Illinois 3-0 (16-25, 9-25, 17-25) but then came back Saturday to win one of two. The Mavericks were swept 3-0 (22-25, 14-25, 16-25) by host St. Louis before ending the tournament on a high-note with a 3-2 (25-17, 19-25, 25-23, 17-25, 16-14) win over Murray State.

With Mackenzie Horkey out for the season, sophomore Kayla Torson has been stepping up to fill the hole at the outside hitter spot in the Mavericks lineup. Torson finished the opening match of the tournament leading the Mavs with ten kills, the sixth-time she’s led the team in that category this season.

Omaha could not match an efficient Big-Ten Illinois squad who had just nine attack errors compared to Omaha’s 20. Omaha was outhit by Illinois .458 to .068.

The Mavericks fell once more in three games in the 12 p.m. match-up Saturday. Junior leader and setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy had 28 assists and Torson led the team in kills with nine.

Torson and Elise Brown led the team on attack attempts with 25 each while Torson finished with a hit clip of .200 and Brown, .240.

Omaha left St. Louis on good terms, defeating Murray State in a tense back-and-forth match. Torson led the way with a double-double, finishing with 22 kills and 13 digs. Freshman libbeo Ashley Smith had 34 digs to lead the team, while O’Shaughnessy led the team in assists with 43. After winning the first set, Omaha dropped the second before taking the third. The Racers snagged the fourth set, bringing things to a winner-take-all atmosphere in the fifth.

Omaha came together to pull the win off in the final serves, 16-14. The game wasn’t the prettiest for either team, but Omaha will be glad to head back to Nebraska with a win and momentum to enter conference play at the end of this week.

The Mavericks will play Friday at 7 p.m. at Baxter Arena to open up Summit League play. Omaha will take on the reigning Summit League Tournament champions Denver at 5 p.m. Saturday. Denver beat Omaha in the conference tournament championship game in 2015, winning in five sets to earn their second-straight berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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