The Lopers have gotten a lot of contribution from last years recruiting class. Some of these first year Lopers playing critical roles include Ellie Pesavento (front), Ariel Krolikowski (middle), and Katie Sokowlowksi (back).
On a night when everyones attention was on the seniors, Arial Krolikowski quietly led the team in kills with 17. Krolikowski is a sophomore transfer from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. She is one of four current Lopers that played high school volleyball at Grand Island.
A crowd of 1,703 was on hand at the Health and Sports Center Friday night to witness a spooky sight—the Loper Volleyball team losing on their home court. On the first night of Halloween weekend, UNK lost to the nationally ranked No. 19 Metro State Roadrunners in five intense sets. It was only the 13th time in 11 years that Lopers have lost at home.
“That was a very difficult loss last night (Friday). A lot of energy went into the match,” said head volleyball coach Rick Squiers.
Other teams would have doubted their ability and let one disappointing loss turn into multiple poor performances, but the Lopers took it as a minor setback and a source of motivation.
“In less than 24 hours we had to find our confidence again. I am very proud of the way our kids responded,” Squiers said.
Playing with a chip on their shoulders, the Lopers swung for the fences against Regis on Saturday night. UNK won the match impressively in three consecutive sets, and the Rangers weren’t able to score more than 16 points in any of them.
The Lopers played well in all phases of the game and got back to their brand of volleyball after losing to Metro. “We hit a great efficiency, had a ton of kills, we didn’t make a lot of errors and we were really scrappy on defense,” Squiers said.
Not only was it Halloween eve, it was senior night, and the veterans wanted to go out with a bang. Senior setter and captain Cola Svec was distributing the ball with precision to all her attackers. The Lopers combined for 52 kills and a .429 kill percentage.
Svec and Jeri Walkowiak have played side by side the last four years and as one would surmise, they were in sync for senior night. Walkowiak had 16 kills with a .560 hitting percentage.
“Jeri (Walkowiak) is all about raw power and attracts a lot of attention from opposing defenses,” Squiers said.
While the senior middle blocker was occupying the defenders, her teammates attacked the weak spots in the Ranger defense.
Ariel Krolikowski was able to fly under the radar this weekend while Walkowiak was hitting missiles at the Rangers. Krolikowski used a mix of spin and speed to record 33 kills for the weekend.
The volleyball team travels to Denver to close out the regular season against Colorado School of Mines on Friday and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on Saturday. The Lopers will host the RMAC conference tournament, which starts on Nov. 11.