By Diane Banderas, Contributor
The UNO volleyball team played four matches in last weekend’s UNO Showcase tournament, only managing one win over two days. For a team that normally begins each season on a roll, the Mavs are in a very unfamiliar position.
UNO opened the tournament in a Friday afternoon match against Winona State. After last week’s 0-3 showing at the Bradley tournament the Mavs were still searching for their first win of the season.
Sophomore right side hitter Ali Jansen had her first double double as a Maverick, contributing 10 kills and 13 digs. Teammate Brittney Hanssen put in four blocks, almost equaling the Warrior’s match total of five. UNO lost the match 3-1, pulling out their only win in the second set 25-23.
The Mavericks then moved on to get their first victory of the 2011 season against Minnesota State Moorhead in a 23-25, 25-12, 22-25, 25-16, 15-12 battle. After a rough start UNO was able to pull together with the help of junior middle blocker Lizzy Mach.
Mach stood strong at the net putting in a match-high four blocks to defeat the Dragons. Aggressive serving and pursuit of the ball by the UNO defense were keys to victory as well.
Senior libero Angie Reicks and sophomore defensive specialist Amy Roberts each had double figures in digs.
The Mavs started day two against Northern State and had the opportunity to improve their record to 3-4 before the day was over. Although UNO fell in sets one (25-23) and two (26-24), the Mavs were able to take the match to four games by stealing the third set 25-23.
In the fourth, the Wolves held UNO to a .000 team hitting efficiency and finished off UNO 14-25. Junior outside hitter Natalie Ebke got a season high 17 kills in the loss, while Mach and Hanssen each had double digit kills.
With arch-rival Nebraska-Kearney on the schedule in the Mavs’ final game of the tournament, there was little time to mope about their 1-2 showing in their first three games. UNO’s move to the Summit League meant the Lopers and Mavericks would be facing each other for the last time at Sapp Fieldhouse.
The importance of the match was plain to see. The floor was reset to UNO’s main court setup and Durango, the school mascot, made a surprise appearance.
With an enthusiastic crowd on hand, UNO got off to a 25-21 start, piling up a .282 hitting percentage in the first set. Sophomore Abby Sorensen and junior Natalie Ebke each started off with four kills.
However, the good vibes that got flowing in the first set only lasted so long. The match took a turn in favor of UNK when the Lopers dominated the second set 25-9.
The Mavs were able to respond with a 25-19 win in the third but were pushed to a fifth game by a 25-16 loss in the fourth. In the deciding set the Lopers hit a solid .400 taking the set and the match 15-9.
Although it was the last chance UNO will have against UNK at home, the Mavs do get another shot at the Lopers in a road game on Oct. 25.