EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Down early, the University of Evansville volleyball team battled back in a 3-1 loss to UNI on Sunday afternoon inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse.
Junior Alondra Vazquez (17 kills) and sophomore Melanie Feliciano (15 kills) combined for 32 kills in the match to lead the Aces. Senior Allana McInnis recorded 29 assists, while Feliciano finished off the day with a double-double, adding 12 digs to her 15 kill total. Three Panthers finished with double-digit kills with Emily Holterhaus leading with 15 kills.
A back-and-forth first set saw Evansville and UNI play to a tie eight times in the opening stanza. After an Aces attack error gave UNI a three-point advantage at 13-10, Evansville battled back to tie the set at 13 and keep pace with the Panthers all the way to 17-17 following a kill by Melanie Feliciano. UNI would close the set on a 8-4 run, capturing the first set victory, 25-21.
Evansville owned the early advantage in set two, as a pair of kills from Chloe Bontrager helped the Aces build a 5-2 lead on the Panthers. UNI responded to the Aces early run with six-straight points to grab an 8-5 lead. The Panthers lead grew as large as six at 13-7 and 19-13, but Evansville battled back. The Aces got as close as three in the waning points of the set as Feliciano’s kill cut the score to 22-19 before UNI edged out the 25-20 set win.
The third set resembled the first as both teams grappled for control in the early going. A service ace from Alondra Vasquez punctuated Evansville’s run midway through the set as the Aces pulled out to a 15-11 lead. UNI made a run following Evansville’s four-point lead, getting within one at 17-16. After the Panthers got within one point, the Aces ran off back-to-back points on kills by Feliciano and Brook Springer to regain a three-point lead. Evansville’s ability to stave off UNI late paid off as three kills from Vazquez helped seal a 25-21 third-set win for Evansville. The Aces limited the Panthers to just .146 hitting in the third set, their lowest of the match, while Evansville recorded its highest hitting rate of the day with .255.
The Panthers were quick out of the gate to start the fourth set, taking an 8-3 lead and forcing a timeout for the Aces. Evansville responded with a run as they did all day as Feliciano recorded two kills to bring UE back within two at 9-7. After UNI went ahead 10-7, the Aces came back to tie the match at 10 on a UNI service error and a pair of Panther attacking errors. A closely contested set for most of the middle portions, UNI scored five-straight points to take a 21-15 lead. Evansville again showcased its fight, battling back to tie the set at 23 on a block by Hannah Watkins. The following point was won by the Panthers on a block and UNI grabbed the 3-1 match win on an Evansville attack error.
Evansville is back in action against UNI on Monday at 4 PM inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse to close-out the weekend series against the Panthers.