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Aces Volleyball Drops 5-Set Thriller to Northern Iowa

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Published: Nov. 14, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - In one of the most intense battles you will see on a volleyball floor, Northern Iowa defeated the University of Evansville volleyball team in five sets at Meeks Family Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Box Score (PDF)

It took a miraculous rally by the Purple Aces (18-9, 8-8 MVC) to send the match to a fifth game.  UE trailed by a 24-19 score but came back to take game four.  In the fifth, UNI (12-17, 7-9 MVC) was able to out-duel the Aces in a 19-17 decision. Alondra Vazquez recorded a season-high 31 kills while Giulia Cardona and Melanie Feliciano added 17 and 16, respectively.  Taya Haffner added 60 assists while Cardona led the way with 16 digs.  Laura Ruiz registered three service aces to lead the team while Madisyn Steele had a solo block and five blocks assists.  Pacing the Panthers was Kira Fallert, who had 25 kills.

Set 1 – UE 25, UNI 23

The opening three points of the match belonged to the Aces with Alondra Vazquez and Madisyn Steele picking up kills.  After UNI tied it up at 3-3, the Aces retook the lead and pushed the advantage to 13-7.  Giulia Cardona recorded a service ace before Melanie Feliciano added back-to-back kills.  As the set progressed, UE continued to hold a 6-point edge at 22-16 before UNI made a furious rally, outscoring the Aces by a 7-1 margin to tie it up at 23-23.  Following a time out, a Cardona kill got the Aces back on track and they would take the set by a 25-23 final.

Set 2 – UNI 25, UE 21

UE started the second set on a 5-3 run, which included another kill by Vazquez.  She added two more kills to her tally to extend the lead to 12-8.  The Panthers retook the momentum with a 9-3 run that saw them take a 17-15 lead.  Kira Fallert picked up a pair of kills to cap off the stretch and put her team in front.  Evansville rallied to tie it up at 17-17, but could not get that point they needed to retake the advantage.  UNI had the answer each time and fended off the challenge to tie the match on the strength of a 25-21 win.

Set 3 – UNI 25, UE 21

It was UNI who had the upper hand to begin the third set, scoring four of the first five tallies.  The Aces made multiple attempts to regain their lead.  Kills by Vazquez and Cardona cut the deficit to one (11-10) before UNI reeled off two in a row.  Laura Ruiz recorded an ace that made it a 1-point game once again at 13-12, but the Panthers would answer once again.  Evansville finally got the point they needed to tie it up, fighting all the way back to a 21-21 tie, but a late rally for UNI saw them record another 25-21 win to take a 2-1 match lead.

Set 4 – UE 35, UNI 33

After winning two sets in a row, UNI picked up the opening three points of the fourth set.  Looking to halt the momentum of the Panthers, the Aces turned a 9-5 deficit into an 11-11 tie with Feliciano registering two kills.  Unfortunately, Evansville could not get the pivotal point to go in front as the Panthers responded to take a 17-12 edge and the lead would hold strong at 24-19.  Down to its final point of the home season, the Aces made a rally for the ages.  UE scored six points in a row to take the lead with Vazquez adding two more kills to her total to give the Aces a 25-24 lead.  The score went back and forth before Vazquez’ 25th kill of the match helped the Aces finish with a 35-33 win to force a fifth set.

Set 5 – UNI 19, UE 17

Two kills by Cardona, coupled with the third ace of the match by Ruiz, gave the Aces a 4-2 edge.  Northern Iowa took a timeout and rebounded to score three in a row to take their first lead of the set at 5-4.   A pair of crucial points for UE came with the score tied at 7-7 with kills by Cardona and Feliciano, but UNI made a run of their own, retaking an 11-10 lead.  Neither team gave in and fought until the final point with the Panthers grinding out a 19-17 decision to clinch the match. The regular season comes to a close next weekend with matches at Southern Illinois and Missouri State,

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