By Travis Morgan
Wayne, Neb. --- Junior outside hitter Cori Hobbs pounded out 18 kills with 20 digs to lead #19 Wayne State in a four-set win over #1 ranked and previously unbeaten Nebraska-Kearney Wednesday evening in non-conference college volleyball before a crowd of 1,411 in the seventh annual Pack the House/Black Out Night match held at Rice Auditorium in Wayne. The crowd was the second largest in WSC volleyball history as the Wildcats improved to 14-5 on the season while the Lopers suffered their first loss in 19 games after entering the contest as the lone remaining unbeaten team in NCAA Division II volleyball.
The Lopers got off to a quick start and controlled the opening set with a 25-16 win as UNK had 18 kills and only three attack errors while hitting .294. WSC gained momentum in the second set and pounded out 18 kills while getting 14 of 15 sideouts in the set to even the match with a 25-15 win over the Lopers.
WSC continued the momentum in front of the raucous Rice Auditorium crowd as the ‘Cats jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, forcing UNK to call timeout. After the ‘Cats took a 12-6 lead, UNK came back and forced WSC to take a timeout after the Lopers pulled within three at 16-13. But WSC scored the next five points out of the timeout to regain control of the set, going up 21-13, and the ‘Cats went on to a 25-15 win in the third set. The Wildcats maintained the momentum in the fourth set and built at 15-5 lead, forcing the Lopers into nine attack errors in the fourth and final set as WSC went on to the 25-18 win giving the Wildcats a 3-1 win over the Lopers.
Wayne State hit .244 in the match compared to .122 for the Lopers. The ‘Cats had 54 kills compared to 46 for UNK and forced the Lopers into 25 attack errors in the contest. WSC outblocked UNK 8-2 and had five service aces in the match to just three by the Lopers.
Hobbs paced Wayne State with her eighth double-double of the season, 18 kills and 20 digs. Placke had a solid night attacking for WSC with 12 kills and a .455 hitting percentage. Redshirt freshman setter Leisa McClintock handed out 46 set assists while Courtney VanGroningen and Katie Hughes, both freshmen, accounted for 17 digs apiece with junior Tatum Wroblewski adding 14 digs.
For Nebraska-Kearney, Ariel Krolikowski had 12 kills and 17 digs followed by Ellie Pesavento and Katie Sokolowski with 10 kills apiece.
Wayne State will be at home this weekend as the Wildcats host St. Cloud State Friday evening at 7 p.m. and #3 Minnesota Duluth Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Northern Sun Conference play.