- Northern Iowa def. #18 Missouri 3-2 (26-24, 17-25, 25-21, 26-28, 15-12)
- Northern Iowa moves to 1-0; #18 Missouri drops to 2-1
- Clarksville, Tennessee (Culvers Governor Challenge)
- Box Score
- *Note: Missouri ranked 18th in VolleyMob’s top 25, but ranked 19th by AVCA
Clarksville, Tennessee – After surviving an upset bid yesterday, Missouri couldn’t toe the line again as mid-major darling Northern Iowa scored a top-25 win in their season opener.
2016 All-Missouri Valley Conference Second-Team setter Heather Hook began her fifth-year with a bang as she posted a new career-high of 64 assists. She steadied an offense that had four Panthers finishing with double-digit kills, led by the three-headed monster of Karlie Taylor (23 kills, 20 digs), Bri Weber (22 kills, 13 digs) and Piper Thomas (18 kills, four blocks).
Senior setter Courtney Eckenrode logged 56 assists for a Missouri offense that out-hit Northern Iowa (.257-.234) due to 15 more Panthers errors. One of the biggest beneficiaries was freshman outside hitter Leketor Member-Meneh, as the high school All-American netted 17 kills and eight digs. The Tigers also had three players with a double-double as Eckenrode added 18 digs while Sydney Deeken (16 kills, 10 digs) and Kira Larson (10 kills, 14 digs) put up big numbers as well.
In fact, Missouri even out-blocked Northern Iowa (13-10) as both teams recorded the same amount of serve errors and aces. Northern Iowa proved to be one of the scrappiest defenses in the country last season, and showed that again in this one, as they had 84 team digs to Missouri’s 73.
The first four sets rotated winners, as each team won a close set in the first and fourth, while both sides won with a bit more comfort in the second and third.
That sent things to a fifth set where Northern Iowa jumped ahead 2-0, but a 5-0 Missouri run gave them the edge. It was the Panthers turn for a run as they would even things at 7-7. The points would alternate until 10-10, when Northern Iowa sophomore Abbi Staack aced the Panthers into the lead. Then, Northern Iowa would close on a 3-0 spurt capped off by a pair of Moriah Johnson blocks.
For Northern Iowa, this was their season opener as they face Middle Tennessee tonight with Austin Peay on the ledger tomorrow. It was a strong start as they look to began a campaign to make another NCAA Tournament appearance.
This was already the second five-set match for Missouri, who needed five to take down Marshall in their opener. They couldn’t repeat their winning result though, as they now sit at 2-1 overall and are likely to slip in or even fall out of the top 25. They do have a match against Austin Peay still to come later today.
Courtesy of Northern Iowa:
CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee – The University of Northern Iowa volleyball team started its season in fine fashion with a 3-2 win over No. 19-ranked Missouri.
UNI (1-0 overall) won by set scores of 26-24, 17-25, 25-21, 26-28, 15-12. The Panthers trailed 6-2 in the final set, but rallied to take it and close out another win over a ranked foe. UNI’s last win over ranked foe came last season when the Panthers secured a 3-0 win over No. 23 Kentucky on Sept. 3, 2016.
UNI sophomore Karlie Taylor put on quite a show as she became the 26th player in Panther history to record 20 kills and 20 digs in a match. Taylor notched career highs in kills (23) and digs (21) against the Tigers.
Junior Bri Weber posted her 35th career double-double with 22 kills and 13 digs. It marks the fifth time in Weber’s career that she has reached 20 or more kills in a single match.
Junior Piper Thomas set a career high with 18 kills.
Senior setter Heather Hook also set a career-high with 64 assists. Hook moved into No. 7 on UNI’s all-time assist list with 2,822 assists. Hook surpassed Bobbie Kreple’s total of 2,780 that she totaled from 1987-1990.
UNI secured 82 kills in the match, while Mizzou tallied 66 total kills.
UNI will be back in action later this afternoon against Middle Tennessee State. The match is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.