Volleyball Bears swept by UNI in MVC Tournament finals
Missouri State’s volleyball team ran into a buzzsaw in the top-seeded UNI Panthers Saturday in the State Farm MVC Tournament championship match, losing by game scores of 30-26, 30-24 and 30-19 at Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill. The Bears saw their record fall to 26-8, while UNI improved to 27-7 with its first tournament championship since 2003. MSU was making its fourth consecutive championship appearance.
The Bears opened the match on a 4-1 run, but the Panthers rallied to tie it several times before taking the lead at 10-9 and extending the advantage to 17-12. Missouri State cut the lead to one at 20-19 and UNI again answered, going on a 4-0 run to pull ahead by five. The Bears got as close as 29-26 but could not overcome .123 hitting that included four attacks that were stuffed by the top-blocking team in the league in the 30-26 loss. The Panthers would finish the contest with 12 blocks.
Northern Iowa took a quick 9-4 lead in the second game and held the advantage between three and six points before eventually extending it to 20-10 after two blocks in a row. The Bears pulled within 27-23 and fought off one game point but the Panthers held on for the 30-24 victory to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
Missouri State came out of the locker room on fire in game three, taking the first four points of the period. The Bears held a steady lead until the Panthers used yet another block to knot the match at 15-all and continued the 9-0 run to a 20-15 advantage. UNI pulled away in the end, using its first-round bye to its advantage as the Bears ran out of gas in the final few points. A kill from Ashten Stelken gave the Panthers a 30-19 game win and a 3-0 championship victory.
Erin O’Connor recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs, and Jamie Adams matched that total with 12 kills as well. Adeana McAfee had 24 digs, including 11 in each of the first two games.
UNI’s offense hit .279 for the match, while the defense held Missouri State to a .105 hitting efficiency.
O’Connor and Sara Thomas earned all-tournament honors.
Missouri State will now wait for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, with UNI taking the league’s automatic berth. The NCAA selection show will air live on ESPNEWS at 2 p.m. (CST) Sunday afternoon.