CEDAR FALLS — There is no rest for the weary Northern Iowa volleyball team.
After playing four matches in five days last week, the Panthers (7-3) will do it again this week starting with Tuesday’s match at Hilton Coliseum against undefeated Iowa State (7-0).
A year ago, in a game in front of 5,000 at the McLeod Center, the Panthers outlasted the Cyclones in a nearly three-hour match, 27-29, 40-38, 25-23, 17-25, 15-10.
“If it is exactly like the one a year ago, I would take it,” head coach Bobbi Petersen said. “We expect a battle. We heard it may be a possible sellout.
“A lot of things go into the Iowa State match. We try to make it like any other game, but I think that is not something our kids believe it. It is just more pride for the state of Iowa.”
Petersen says the Cyclones will probably be the most physical team, top to bottom, UNI has faced this season.
“That says a lot,” Petersen said. “They run a 6-2 and have anybody in the front row that can put the ball away at anytime.”
Petersen called the Panthers’ 3-1 week last week difficult, especially the 2-1 showing they put forth at the UMKC Kangaroo Classic that finished with a four-set loss to the host.
“I would not say it was our best volleyball of year,” Petersen said. “UMKC played great and knew they had that capability. They did everything right and fortunately we did respond well to that.”
It was that mentality, Petersen added, that UNI needs to overcome, saying there were matches against teams like USC, Kentucky and Creighton where her team responded to another team playing well but possibly did not give UMKC that same respect.
“I struggled with our response,” Petersen said. “We were definitely back on our heels instead of trying to push forward. I think it was a really good learning experience because of it.
“The key is to learn from it.”
After facing ISU Tuesday, UNI travels to Omaha Friday and Saturday where the Panthers will face UNO, Nebraska and Kansas State in the Omaha Challenge.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: The Panthers (6-1) saw their six-game win streak come to an end Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Montana.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend,” UNI head coach Bruce Erickson said. “I thought we played well overall. I thought our Friday game was one of the better results just playing a NCAA tournament team and the challenge of playing a team that does a lot of things we want to do well.
“We had to problem solve. We had to sort things out on the fly and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
Erickson said the game Sunday was also good despite the result, saying his team played well in the first half, leading 1-0 at halftime.
“They were just a little bit better in second half and scored on a couple of their chances, and one was just a fantastic goal,” Erickson added.
UNI travels to Northern Illinois Friday, before hosting North Dakota, and former head coach Chris Logan Sunday.
WOMEN’S TENNIS: Head coach Chris Sagers will get to see his team in action for the first time this weekend at the Drake Invitational beginning on Friday.
The Panthers graduated four seniors from last year’s squad and will be relying on three freshman and a transfer to fill the void of the departed seniors.
“We are excited to get started and a lot of question marks to be honest,” Sagers said. “We have more than half of our squad new faces so we are really interested to see what our new players can do.”
Seniors Savanna Hunt and Gisela Kemper return, as does junior Eve Small.
Alabama-Birmingham transfer Reghan Lynch gives UNI another experienced player. In 2015-16, Lynch led the Blazers with eight victories.
Among the newcomers are a pair of players from Chester, United Kingdom — Kate Merrick and Harri Proudfoot, as well as Valentina Caro of Cedar Rapids Prairie.