CEDAR FALLS — The University of Northern Iowa volleyball team is back in familiar territory.
After a 1-3 start to the Missouri Valley Conference season, the Panthers take a five-match winning streak into this week’s home matchups against Evansville Friday and Southern Illinois Saturday.
More importantly, head coach Bobbi Petersen noted Monday during UNI’s weekly coaches’ luncheon, her team finally won its first five-set battle in league play after three defeats when they took down Loyola Saturday in Chicago.
Halfway through the conference season, UNI stands 6-3 in fourth place. Wichita State leads the league with its only MVC loss coming at the hands of the Panthers, while Missouri State and Southern have two league defeats each. Right behind UNI in the standings are Illinois State and Loyola with four conference setbacks.
“Jam-packed in there,” said Petersen. “A lot of teams that I think still have an opportunity to win a conference championship. This next round is obviously going to be very competitive.”
UNI is encouraging fans to wear pink for Friday’s 7 p.m. Breast Cancer Awareness night.
“We have a lot of players and staff for whom that really touches home,” said Petersen.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: A 0-0 draw with Drake Tuesday and Sunday’s 4-1 win over Loyola moved UNI (8-5-3 overall) into second place in the Missouri Valley standings (2-1-2).
“Very pleased with the way the girls are playing with their mentality and their positivity right now,” said coach Chris Logan.
Iowa State visits the CVSC Sunday at 1 p.m. for UNI’s Senior Day. The Panthers will honor upperclassmen Whitney Blunt, Amber Nieland, Mary Brandt, Camille Dela Cruz and Ali Heithoff.
CROSS COUNTRY: Another week produced another strong performance for the UNI cross country teams, and especially the women’s squad that had three runners crack the program’s all-time Top 10 with their 6K times at the Bradley Classic Friday.
Hannah Truniger (21:09.60) now stands fourth in UNI history, Ashley Norem sixth (21:29.20) and Brette Correy (21:41.90) is ninth. Kelsey Kirchoff, who ran the second-best time in school history last season, gives UNI four current runners among the all-time Top 10.
As a team, the Panther women climbed to No. 9 in this week’s Midwest Region rankings.
“We’ve just got to continue to do what we’re doing,” said head coach Dave Paulsen.
UNI will host the Missouri Valley Championships Oct. 29 at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls.
WOMEN’S TENNIS: UNI wrapped up its fall season at the ITA Central Regional in Minneapolis over the weekend. It was a strong tournament for the Panthers, who were disappointed in their performance the previous week at the Missouri Valley Championships.
“Hopefully we gained some confidence in this last meet,” said coach Chris Sagers. “We’ll take some time off and get to work and be ready in the spring.”