CEDAR FALLS — Last week wasn’t a good week in the win-loss column for the Northern Iowa volleyball team.
There was a three-set loss in front 6,000 plus fans at the McLeod Center on Wednesday to rival Iowa State, followed by a pair of four-set losses to Washington State Friday and Saturday.
It would’ve been a tough week to swallow for head coach Bobbi Petersen if it hadn’t been for what she saw in Saturday’s loss to the Cougars.
“The biggest concern for us came on Saturday when you have two tough losses like that at home,” Petersen said. “Definitely we were a little bit tired and banged up, and obviously a week where we did not get a lot of practice time coming off the road trip we had.
“As coaches we were a little concerned even about what our attitude would be on Saturday, and I thought Saturday was one of the best matches we’ve played this year when it comes to execution and grit and fight by our team.”
UNI (2-3) turns its attention to this weekend’s Ball State Invitational, starting with a pair of matches Friday against Ball State at 9 a.m. and Indiana at 4 p.m. before playing North Dakota State on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“Haven’t watched a ton of video on these three teams yet,”Petersen said. “But they all had good starts to the preseason and have some good wins. Just looking at a little of the video we have, we are going to have three very different teams which is always fun and challenging.”
CROSS COUNTRY: The Panther men and women opened their season last Friday in Iowa City where where two women and one man finished among the top 15 in their respective races.
Gabby Champion took 11th and Alyssa Williams 12th to pace the women’s squad, while junior Wal Khat, a transfer from NIACC, led the men in 11th place.
“It was one of those things where you learn about the new people on the team that you hadn’t had a chance to see in the purple and gold and see how they work together,” UNI head coach Dave Paulsen said. “That was kind of the focus going in. Overall I was really pleased with how it went.”
Paulsen said the Panther women ran the best as a group, as there was just a 20-second difference between their first runner and fifth runner, while the men needed to run a little better in a tight pack.
“That was one of our biggest strengths last year on the team having such a tight spread, so we are going to keep working on that,” Paulsen added.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: The Panthers went 1-1 at the University of Iowa Invitational, capping the tournament with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Central Michigan.
Head coach Bruce Erickson said UNI has been tested with matches against Wyoming and Colorado State on the road, and VCU and Central Michigan in Iowa City.
“VCU was tremendous, really caused us a lot of problems and opened us and forced us to problem solve a lot more than I wish we had too,” Erickson said. “It was good in a sense that we had to deal with injuries and had to have players jump in and contribute right away.”
UNI will continue to test itself this Friday and Sunday when the Panthers will face South Dakota State and North Dakota State, two teams Erickson feels will be among the best in the Summit League.
“Having to play on the road for the third weekend in a row, I think if we can get results against these guys they are going to be similar to teams we will face in the Valley,” Erickson said.