By HANNAH COHEN
UNI (10-0 MVC) overtook Drake in a back to back rally of five sets on Friday Oct. 19 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The match brought Drake’s MVC record to an even 5-5. Cathryn Cheek, outside hitter, increased her career high to 23 kills in this game, but the team could not keep their rallies moving.
“We were definitely really motivated as a team,” Cheek said. “You could tell that we all really wanted it and were on the same page and it was definitely a battle.”
Northern Iowa took the first set, 25-19. Drake managed to come back together for a win in the second with a close 25-23.
“That was a really great feeling, even to just take the set off,” Cheek said. “I think it gave us validation throughout the rest of the match because it’s hard letting a team win two straight sets in a row and having to come back and take the third so winning the second was a big turn for the game.”
The battle continued in the third set when the Panthers came back at the bulldogs with a 25-15 win. UNI got an early 13-5 lead and from there both scores kept going forward at different rates.
“I think we got the high of winning,” Elle Tubbs, middle blocker, said. “ I think we need to all have the same mindset and know we can beat this team and that is where we got down.”
Drake came back strong in the fourth set with Cheek and Tubbs’s work of combined kills and aces. Tubbs got consecutive aces in this set, not only giving the team a 25-22 win, but also a career high total of five aces in this game.
“She’s one of my closest friends on the team so it’s nice having her on the court with me,” Cheek said. “I also really like having her in the middle too because that means we’re working together on every single play. She really wants to help you whatever way she can and that’s a really great attitude to have especially in her position.”
Despite the loss, Drake aims to come back strong in their homestand this weekend. They play Loyola (5-5 MVC) Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Knapp Center and then face Valparaiso (7-3 MVC ) right after on Saturday at 7 in the Knapp.
“I think we have a really good chance to get a win this weekend,” Natalie Fry, middle blocker, said. “We haven’t gotten a win at home in awhile so it will be good to get a lot of fans here and work hard this weekend.”