Panthers Sweep Louisville From NCAA Tournament
It's on to the second-round of the NCAA Tournament for the UNI volleyball team.
The Panthers opened the tournament with a 3-0 sweep of co-Atlantic Coast Conference champion Louisville in a first-round match at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn., late Friday afternoon (Dec. 1, 2017). Set scores were 25-21, 25-15, 27-25.
UNI (27-8 overall) recorded the program's 15th NCAA Tournament victory and first triumph since the 2012 season. It marks the 12th time that the Panthers have reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Panthers rode the hitting of Piper Thomas and Karlie Taylor to the victory. Thomas recorded a match-high 18 kills and hit .500 with only two attack errors. Taylor posted her team-leading 25th double-double with 17 kills and 15 digs. Junior Bri Weber posted a team-best 18 digs.
UNI jumped out quickly to a 4-1 advantage. Louisville evened at 7-7 before pushing its advantage to as many as three points. Louisville led 18-15 when the Panthers made their decisive 6-0 run to take a 21-15 lead. UN would close out the first set, 25-21. UNI posted 16 kills and hit .263, while Louisville recorded 14 kills and hit .220.
The second set was tied at 11-11 before another crucial 6-0 run for the Panthers turned the momentum around. UNI would eventually finish the run at 8-1 and hold a 19-12 lead when the Cardinals called a timeout. Louisville pulled to within five points at 19-14, but the Panthers would not be denied. A block from Moriah Johnson and Jaydlin Seehase gave the Panthers a set point and Taylor fired a service ace to give UNI a 25-15 win.
Louisville (24-7 overall) looked to battle back in the third set and built a 20-16 lead. UNI would answer with a 4-0 run to tie the set at 20-20. However, Louisville would take a 24-22 lead and had two set points to force a fourth set. Louisville's Amanda Green posted a service error to pull the Panthers to within one and then UNI tied it at 24-24 on a kill by Thomas.
Louisville's Jasmine Bennett gave the Cardinals a third set point at 25-24 on a kill. But UNI refused to give in and scored the final three points. Thomas got a kill to knot it at 25-25 and Taylor answered with another kill of her own to give UNI a match point. The Panthers won the match on a block by Heather Hook and Johnson.
UP NEXT: UNI's second-round NCAA Tournament match will be at 8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 2) at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn. The Panthers will play Minnesota on the Golden Gophers' home floor. The match will be television live by the Big Ten Network (BTN).