MINNEAPOLIS – With Minnesota natives Olivia Tjernagel and Kira Fallert anchoring a spirited effort at Maturi Pavilion, the UNI Panther volleyball team notched a 3-0 sweep (26-24, 25-19, 25-21) Friday versus the seventh-seeded “RV” Florida State Seminoles during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Volleyball Championship. Tjernagel posted a contest-best 13 kills on .632 hitting, and Fallert added 10 kills and a match-high-tying two aces.
UNI (27-7 overall) is now 13-11 in NCAA openers and picked up its first tournament win since defeating another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in 2017 when the Panthers swept the Louisville Cardinals in Minneapolis. UNI has also won 26 of the previous 28 outings this season and is undefeated on Fridays since their two defeats against nationally-ranked foes Sept. 2 at the Bluejay Invitational.
Although the Seminoles (19-11 overall) recorded a six-to-three advantage in blocks, the Panthers finished ahead in attack efficiency (.265 to .122), digs (59 to 41), and aces (five to three). Tjernagel and Fallert were joined in double figures by Emily Holterhaus who totaled 12 terminations. Tayler Alden recorded 41 assists and 11 digs for a double-double. Twin sisters Sydney and Baylee Petersen added double-digits digs with 16 and 10, respectively. Sydney Petersen topped all performers in the category. Inga Rotto tied for the contest lead in blocks at three rejections featuring the 400th block of her career.
In the first set, UNI and Florida State were separated by no more than two points throughout the stanza. The Panthers led for most of the action thanks in part of Tjernagel’s perfect five-of-five start offensively. However, a late Seminole surge put the score at 24-22 Florida State. From there, UNI answered on a 4-0 run including kills from Rotto and Holterhaus en route to a 26-24 come-from-behind triumph.
Back-and-forth stretches dominated the early stages of the second frame with the Panthers and the Seminoles eventually settling into a 15-15 tie. UNI uncorked another 4-0 swing highlighted by three Holterhaus terminations. The Panthers kept their distance, and Rotto’s 400th collegiate block came alongside Alden on a combined stuff which secured the 25-19 victory and the 2-0 edge in the tilt.
Florida State jumped out to a 4-1 lead early within the third, but UNI bounced back and forced deadlocks of 5-5 and 7-7. Later in the period, the Panthers grabbed the lead by turning a 10-8 deficit into a 13-10 advantage. The Seminoles never led again and were denied during their four remaining chances to climb level. On UNI’s second match-point opportunity, Tjernagel found the back line on a slide play and clinched the 25-21 win for the 3-0 sweep.
UNI’s postseason run resumes Saturday at 7 p.m. in Maturi Pavilion with a second-round matchup against the winner of Friday evening’s matchup between the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions and the second-seeded and eighth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Saturday’s live coverage will be available via News/Talk 1540 KXEL and ESPN+.