In a battle for sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the Loyola women’s volleyball team fell to University of Northern Iowa 3-1 at Gentile Arena Monday night.
Loyola (14-8, 7-2), which started conference play 6-0 for the first time since 2001 as a member of the Horizon League, now finds itself in second place after going 1-2 over its last three matches. Northern Iowa — which received all 10 first-place votes in the MVC preseason coaches poll — improved to 8-1 in conference play and sits alone atop the standings.
First-year outside hitter Addie Barnes led Loyola with 13 kills on the night while also adding 13 digs for her 11th double-double of the season. Barnes was one of three Ramblers in double figures as they hit just .119 for the night.
Loyola also struggled on defense, allowing UNI to rattle off 54 kills as the Panthers hit at a .254 clip.
“We have to pick up our defense,” Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said. “We are going to learn from [tonight] and learn how to play a little bit more composed.”
The Ramblers had a hard time getting things going in the first set as they fell behind 10-5 early and would never overcome the deficit, dropping the first stanza 25-16 to give UNI a 1-0 lead.
“We are going to learn … how to play a little bit more composed.”
— Amanda Berkley, head coach
Neither team took a commanding lead in the second set, but Loyola went on a 14-6 run to win 25-23 and tie the match 1-1. Once again in the third set, neither team was able to take a commanding lead to begin. The Ramblers had chances to take control, but UNI pulled away for a 25-16 victory and moved into the driver’s seat with a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, both teams got off to a slow start defensively. Both teams traded points, but the Ramblers took a 21-18 lead at one point. That lead was short-lived as the Panthers rattled off seven unanswered points to win 25-21 and seal a 3-1 victory.
As a team, Loyola committed 26 errors on offense, which is why senior outside hitter Quinn Spieker said that area needs to be improved, as well.
“Just moving the ball around in general helps, and we had a lot of good passes throughout the game,” Spieker said. “One takeaway I think … is to put the ball away a little bit more, and I think that’s what we lacked.”
Loyola is scheduled to continue its season Oct. 25 against Valparaiso University. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.