By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
UNO volleyball won just two sets all tournament and left the CEFCU Classic in Peoria, Ill. with an 0-3 record to start the season. Friday the Mavs lost a 3-1 match to the University of Illinois-Chicago, came back for another 3-1 loss to Bradley that evening and dropped a 3-0 decision to the same Bradley team the next morning.
UNO was chasing most of the weekend, dropping the first set in every match but coming back to claim the second in both games on Friday. On Saturday, the Mavs were as close as 19-19 in the third set but then gave up three straight points to the Braves who eventually won the set 25-23.
Offensively, UNO was led by junior outside hitter Natalie Ebke who tallied a team high 29 kills for the tournament. Shortly behind Ebke was sophomore Abby Sorensen with 25 kills and senior Brittany Hanssen.
However, none of the three were very consistent with their swings. Ebke averaged a hitting percentage of .125 over the three matches; Sorensen was at .019 and Hanssen at .127. As a team, UNO only averaged a percentage of .104 for the weekend.
In Friday’s first-ever Division I matchup, the Mavs battled all match but gave up late runs of 8-4 and 10 straight while losing the first two sets. In the third UNO never trailed, winning by a score of 25-16.
In the fourth, the Mavs got as close as 20-18 but they also had nine errors in the set and ultimately lost 25-20. In their second tournament game later that evening, UNO again stayed with their opponent but lost two of the first three sets.
It was as close as 20-19 in the first and 22-20 in the third, but the Mavs could only manage one more point in each set, losing 25-20 and 25-21. An ace by libero Angie Reicks in the second made the score 17-7 UNO and the team never looked back, winning the set 25-16.
The fourth set produced another big run by an opponent. The Braves put an 11-3 run on top of a 10-10 tie, finishing off the match with a 25-15 win.
Saturday the Mavs and Braves met again, and this time around UNO was unable to scratch out a set victory. A slow start put the Mavs down a set with a 25-13 loss in the first.
UNO was competitive the rest of the way but left the tournament in a sweep losing set two 25-20 and set three 25-23.
There were a few bright spots on the weekend. Hanssen recorded a career high eight blocks in their second tournament game and Reicks’ 47 tournament digs moved her to fourth all-time in Maverick history.
UNO will have the first of its three home dates next weekend when it hosts the UNO Volleyball Showcase. The Mavs welcome in Winona State, Minnesota State-Moorhead, Northern State and UNK.