MINNEAPOLIS – The 2022 season came to a close for the UNI Panther volleyball team as the Texas Quarter No. 2 seed and eighth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers picked up a 3-0 triumph Saturday evening at Maturi Pavilion by set scores of 25-18, 25-16, and 25-15 in the NCAA Volleyball Championship’s second round.
UNI (27-8 overall) topped Minnesota (22-8 overall) in digs by a 34-to-29 margin. The Golden Gophers posted the advantages in hitting (.287 to .056), blocks (16 to 3), and aces (four to one). Sydney Petersen’s 16 digs easily paced all performers. She also got the only Panther ace Saturday. Tayler Alden’s 26 assists bested everyone in the contest, and Emily Holterhaus registered a match-high-tying 11 kills. Kira Fallert highlighted UNI’s front-row defense with two blocks.
Minnesota built a 4-2 lead during the first stanza, but UNI moved in front, 7-4, on a five-point outburst featuring two terminations from Holterhaus. The Panthers had a 16-14 edge and were transitioning from a Golden Gopher free ball when a replay was signaled to stop the rally. Capitalizing on the break, Minnesota tallied six scores in a row to begin an 11-2 closing swing for a 25-18 win.
The momentum carried over into the second set with the Golden Gophers quickly securing leads of 6-1 and 11-3. UNI’s deficit sat at nine points before Inga Rotto and Alden collected kills in a 3-0 spurt to climb within 18-12. Minnesota held on and notched a 25-16 wire-to-wire victory for a two-set advantage.
An Olivia Tjernagel kill gave the Panthers a 1-0 start to the third frame. The Golden Gophers responded by winning six of the next seven rallies. Despite dealing with a double-digit difference, UNI sprang to late life via five consecutive points including multiple Holterhaus kills, Petersen’s ace, and a combined block from Alden and Carly Spies. One more Minnesota run finished the 25-15 triumph and the sweep.
UNI’s 2022 schedule wraps up with a second-round berth in the program’s 24th NCAA appearance following a Missouri Valley Conference championship sweep as part of the best single-season turnaround in Panther history. Saturday’s contest also officially closes the UNI tenures of the five Panther seniors Payton Ahrenstorff, Baylee Petersen, Sydney Petersen, Inga Rotto, and Carly Spies.