By Andrew Nelson, Contributor
The Omaha volleyball team fell in five sets to the defending Summit League champions Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) at Sapp Field House Friday night in the Mavericks conference opener.
Despite winning the first set, the Mavs went on to drop the next two before blowing out the Jaguars in the fourth set. This sent the match to a fifth and final set, which the University of Nebraska at Omaha would go on to lose.
Omaha won the first set of the night, coming back to win 26-24 in front of a loud crowd at the Sapp Field House. The Mavericks lost the next two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-17, falling behind early in both matches and not being able to overcome the deficit.
Omaha roared back in the fourth set, blowing out IUPUI by a score of 25-13. The momentum swung the Lady Mavs into a fifth and final set; however, the Mavs couldn’t overpower the defending Summit League champions, losing the deciding set 11-15.
The Omaha volleyball team is still on the climb to full Division-I status, and even though the results don’t show on the scoreboard quite yet, the Mavs are surely on their way. UNO is currently 5-9 (0-1) on the season after just beginning conference play after coming off a 7-22 (2-12) campaign a year ago.
Falling in a fifth set to the two-time defending Summit League champs isn’t a bad way to start out conference play, but it’s a start for a young team on the rise.
“This is the first time we’ve beaten them in a set, but we’re in a position to win the match, and we need to be able to close things out,” Head Coach Rose Shires said. “It’s just something we’ve got to be able to do.”
Omaha was led in kills by Junior Kelley Wollak with 21 followed by 11 kills from freshmen Mackenzie Horkey. Omaha out blocked the Jaguars 13-to-3 with Michaela Schimmer helping out the Mavs with six of those blocks and Meagan Schmale and Diane Banderas each with five blocks.
Sydney O’Shaughnessy led the Mavs with 26 assists on the night. Junior libero Kimberly Bailey led the team with 25 digs and was one of five Mavs in double-digits for digs on the night.
Losing an intense game to a defending conference champion in five sets is tough to swallow, but there are still some positives to take away from Friday’s game.
“First of all, we need to know that we can play with and beat the two-time defending Summit League champions,” Shires said. “I think this definitely sets a good tone in terms of what we can do, and what we’re able to do and it’s just a matter of execution and staying with the execution throughout the entire match.”
The Omaha volleyball team returns to action tonight at the Sapp Field House against conference foe South Dakota at 7 p.m. The Mavericks will play North Dakota State in another home contest Friday night at 7 p.m.