By RICK PETERSON
The No. 12-ranked Washburn volleyball team won its second five-set marathon of the season against No. 5-ranked Nebraska-Kearney on Tuesday evening to hand the Lopers their second loss of the year.
The Ichabods posted a 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 19-25 and 15-12 victory to improve their record to 14-3 (6-3 MIAA) and Washburn has now won four in a row over Nebraska-Kearney, marking the first time that has happened in program history.
Washburn jumped out to an early 5-1 advantage in the opening set and held a 9-7 lead before Nebraska-Kearney put together a 6-1 run to go up, 13-10.
The Ichabods fought back and tied the set at 15 and 16, but another 6-1 run created some breathing room for the Lopers.
Trailing 22-17, Halle Meister knocked down a kill to spark a 5-1 scoring stretch to pull WU within one. Nebraska-Kearney held on, though, winning the next 2 points to take the 25-22 win.
The Lopers (17-2, 7-2 MIAA) were up 4-3 in the second set when the Ichabods went on a 5-1 run to go in front, 8-5.
During that stint, Jalyn Stevenson registered three kills. Washburn held on to the lead for the remainder of the set and closed out the frame with 4 unanswered points to take the 6-point win and even the match at 1-1. Stevenson knocked down a team-high six kills with zero errors in the set.
After dropping the first 2 points in the third set, Washburn came storming back and scored 10 of the next 12 to lead, 10-4.
A 9-3 run chiseled Washburn's lead down to 19-18, forcing an Ichabod timeout.
Washburn returned to the court after the timeout and won the next 3 points before Nebraska-Kearney responded with back-to-back points.
The Lopers initially pulled within one at 22-21 after a kill, but the call was challenged by Washburn and overturned to an attacking error ruling to put the Ichabods up, 23-20. Nebraska-Kearney couldn't get any closer as Washburn went up 2-1 in the match with a 25-21 decision in the third.
Errors piled up for Washburn in the fourth set as the Ichabods hit a dismal .073 and Nebraska-Kearney never trailed in the game. The Ichabods used a late 4-0 rally to cut the deficit to three at 22-19, but the Lopers won the last 3 points to force the decisive fifth set.
The fifth set was a back-and-forth battle with six lead changes and 10 tie scores.
The Lopers had a 3-2 lead and then three UNK errors pushed the Ichabods ahead, 5-3.
Nebraska-Kearney won 4 of the next 5 points to go up, 7-6.
On the following play another Washburn challenge was successful after what was initially ruled a Washburn hitting error was later determined to be a Nebraska-Kearney blocking error that knotted the score at 7-all.
Behind the service line was Sydney Pullen, who kept the momentum going with a service ace. The Lopers tied the match at 8-8 and then regained the lead with a 3-1 run to make it 11-10.
The score was even at 11 after a UNK hitting error and Meister gave the Ichabods a 1-point advantage with a kill.
Broadie and Stevenson followed with back-to-back kills to make it match point. UNK spoiled 1 set point with a kill before Meister put the match away with her seventh kill of the evening.
Washburn finished the match hitting .233 compared to Nebraska-Kearney's .160 clip. The Ichabods had the edge in kills (65-61), digs (85-82) and blocks (10-6) while the Lopers led in service aces (11-6).
Stevenson turned in a career night as she knocked down a personal-best 19 kills and hit .366 while adding 14 digs and four blocks.
Broadie and Taryn Pridgett also achieved new career-highs in kills as they collected 12 and nine kills, respectively.
Kassidy Pfeiffer and Kealy Kiviniemi chipped in eight kills apiece.
Freshman setter Corinna McMullen dished out a season-high 35 assists and scooped up 10 digs for her fifth double-double of the year.
In the backcourt, Sophie McMullen led all players in the match with 24 digs and Pullen racked up 21 digs.
Three Nebraska-Kearney players registered double-figure kills, led by Emersen Cyza's 20. Bailee Sterling added a double-double with 16 kills and 10 digs.
The Ichabods will return home to take on Missouri Western and No. 23 Central Missouri Friday and Saturday at Lee Arena.