CEDAR FALLS — In the win/loss column, it looks like the University of Northern Iowa volleyball team had a rough go of it in Los Angeles this past weekend.
But head coach Bobbi Petersen’s perspective was far different after the Panthers finished a 1-2 trip with a victory over No. 23 Kentucky following tough losses to Creighton and USC.
“I was really proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish,” Petersen said. “It is a little bit hard to say that when we were 1-2 on the weekend, but what we did and some of the barriers we broke through, I’m really proud of this team.
“We put ourselves in a position that we had a shot at winning every single one of those matches.”
What turned the Southern California trip into a positive was how the Panthers played Saturday after struggling to close out Creighton Friday. After losing a couple of tight sets to USC to open that match, UNI rallied from a 19-10 deficit in the third set to win 26-24 before losing 25-23 in set four.
“It was a huge breakthrough for our team and not just because of the comeback, that was one thing, but being able to finally win a tight set against a very good team,” said Petersen. “We had tight sets against Michigan and Creighton and weren’t able to hold on and win. (Against Kentucky) we finally were able to close out three sets and win against a Top 25 team and close the weekend on a positive note.”
UNI will head to Kansas City this weekend where the Panthers will face Missouri-Kansas City and Nebraska-Omaha Friday in the Kangaroo Klassic before heading to Lawrence, Kan., Saturday to face fourth-ranked Kansas.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: The soccer team may also have found its identity through adversity.
The Panthers lost a tough match to SEC opponent Arkansas, 7-1, on Thursday. Head coach Chris Logan said the way UNI battled after getting down early in that matchup might have been a light bulb moment for his team, which bounced back Sunday to blank South Dakota 3-0.
“The Arkansas game was a good game for us and the biggest reason why is we turned around on Sunday against a very good South Dakota team and we put them to the sword. We played really, really well,” Logan said.
The Panthers host Midland University Wednesday at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex at 6 p.m.
CROSS COUNTRY: Both the men and women opened the season at the Hawkeye Invitational Friday with the women finishing third and the men seventh in a meet featuring several top teams from around the country.
“It was a really good test for our program,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “Early on, you don’t know what to expect because we have a lot of freshmen in the mix. Just learning how to run together and work as a unit is huge for us. We did some good things there and there are some things we could work on.”
UNI is off until Sept. 23 when it travels to the Badger Classic in Madison, Wisconsin.