LINCOLN — Nebraska won’t be getting a chance to take care of one piece of unfinished business. Northern Iowa quickly took care of it for the Huskers.
The Panthers opened NCAA tournament play by defeating Kansas State 25-18, 25-13, 25-21 Thursday afternoon at the NU Coliseum.
Krista DeGeest, Macy Ubben, and Megan Lehman each had 11 kills and hit at least .381 to knock out a Kansas State (21-9) team that returned most of the key pieces from the club that upset the Huskers in the second round of last year’s tournament at the Coliseum.
“One of the things we’ve talked about is every part of our game has been there throughout some point during the season and executed really well,” UNI coach Bobbie Petersen said. “But we haven’t had a match in my mind where everything has come together and we had every part of our game on the same night. It was going to take that tonight to be able to be successful against Kansas State.”
Setter Molly Turk handed out 36 assists and guided an offense for Northern Iowa (25-9) that put up a .321 attack percentage. DeGeest led the way with a .588 hitting mark and made just one attack error on her 17 swings.
“One thing we really pride ourselves on is quickness and just being aggressive and having the quick offense that we do,” DeGeest said. “The back row was passing the ball up to the net and we were running a bunch of different options. It’s hard to block against a team that’s in-system a lot and can run a lot of different options.”
Northern Iowa finished with 54 digs, 17 more than the Wildcats.
Kansas State, which limped into the tournament losing five of its past six matches, could never get its key pieces going. All-Big 12 middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger led the Wildcats with seven kills, but made four hitting errors and hit just .097.
In their first trip to the Coliseum since last year’s upset of Nebraska, the Wildcats hit .164 for the match and made eight serving errors.
Northern Iowa (25-9) ................. 25 25 25
Kansas State (21-9) ................ 18 13 21