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Loper VB Adds Four

Nebraska-Kearney volleyball coach Rick Squiers announced today the names of two junior college transfers and two high school seniors who'll play for the Lopers this fall.

The newcomers are transfers Skyler Erickson (Greeley) and Briana Pontious (McPherson, Kan.) and high school seniors Ellie McDonnell (Papillion) and Connar Newberry (Melissa, Texas).

Last fall, UNK added four high seniors to its 2015 roster in Ali Rowse (Minden), Kendra Schroer (Ogallala), Lindsey Smith (Dakota Dunes, S.D.) and Morgan Stute (Kearney Catholic H.S.). The Lopers had two seniors on the 2014 team in All-American libero Liz McGowan and middle/right side Steph Brand.

"Considering the timing and unusual number of departures from our 2014 roster, we have done well in addressing some immediate and long term needs," said Squiers. "I'm very hopeful that as our returning players continue to get healthy and develop, the addition of these newcomers will allow us to maintain the high standard and great tradition of Loper volleyball."

Squiers also noted the team hopes to add one more attacker prior to the start of next fall.

Both Erickson (Central C.C.-Columbus) and Pontious (Johnson County C.C., Kan.) are outside hitters that have two years of eligibility remaining.

Standing 5-9, Erickson was a two-time first-team All-American for the CCC Raiders. Helping her team have two top 10 finishes in the national tournament, she amassed 939 kills and 874 digs over the past two falls.

At Greeley-Wolbach High, Erickson was part of the Mavericks 2009 Class D2 state championship team. Also an all-state performer in track and basketball, she recorded 1,342 kills and 1,248 digs in her prep career.

"Skyler is an ultracompetitive six rotation player who has a lot experience playing in big matches and coming through in the clutch for her team," said Squiers.
"She has sharp ball control and defensive skills to go along with a big arm at the net. I'm very hopeful that she can be an immediate contributor this fall."

Pontious (5-10) is another 2014 JUCO All-American. For the JCCC Lay Cavaliers this past fall, she had 22 matches with 10 or more kills. Over two seasons, Pontious racked up 667 kills, ninth most in school history.

Also named first-team all-conference and all-region, she was part of squads that went 23-12 (2014) and 31-7 (2013). As a freshman, Pontious was part of a squad that finished third in NJCAA Division II.

For the McPherson High Bullpups, she was a three-year starter who powered her team to a 2012 state title and a 2011 state runner up finish.

"Briana is a great athlete with the versatility to attack effectively from the left or right side. She was a consistent offensive force on a very successful NJCAA team that played sixteen nationally ranked opponents last fall. We're excited to see what she can do in our program," said Squiers.

For the Papillion-LaVista Monarchs in 2013 and 2014, McDonnell (5-6) averaged 4.5 digs per set for squads that finished second (2014) and third (2013) in Class A.
Earning honorable mention all-state honors, McDonnell was one of the Monarchs main serve receivers.

"Ellie is a rock steady serve receive passer and defender who has contributed heavily to some great teams. She currently plays libero for a club squad that has two other prospects heading to D1 schools to play back row," said Squiers. "Elle has a great chance to factor in to the rotation very early in her career."

The first Texan Squiers has signed while at UNK, Newberry is a 5-10 outside hitter. For the Melissa High Cardinals, she recorded 470 kills, 309 digs, 48 aces and 42 blocks this past fall, helping her team make it to the regional finals for the first time.

A two-time District MVP and a three-time first-team All-Texomaland selection, she also was a letterwinner track.

"Connar was a dominating attacker and all-around player in the Texas high school ranks and currently plays for an outstanding club program," said Squiers. "She is a well-rounded player with a live arm who can play both outside positions. Connar has the makings of a very solid college volleyball player and we look forward to watching her develop."

UNK has made 16 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, going 507-72 since Squiers took over the program in 1999.

Local Sports 04-28-2015

The Nebraska baseball team will be back in action tonight with their final non conference game of the season when take on the Creighton Bluejays at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The Huskers have won five straight games against the Jays dating back to the 2013 season, but the Huskers haven't gone 3-0 against the Jays in a single season since 2008. Creighton is 13-5 at TD Ameritrade Park this season, with one of the losses coming to Nebraska on April 14th. First pitch will be at 6:05pm. We'll have it on 1230AM KHAS, beginning with the pre-game show at 5:30pm.

The Nebraska softball team will host Drake tonight at Bowlin Stadium. The Huskers are 29-19 on the season, including a perfect 4-0 mark last week. The Bulldogs are 28-18 and currently sit in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference. Game time will be at 7:00pm.

Hastings College will be the number three seed in the GPAC Softball Tournament and will play Nebraska Wesleyan on Wednesday at noon in the Midland University bracket. The Broncos finished the regular season 27-21, 12-8 in the conference. In the other game, Midland will take on Concordia at 2:00pm. In the Doane bracket, Northwestern will battle Morningside at 10:00am followed by Doane against Dordt at noon.

The Nebraska Wesleyan women and the Hastings men will be the number one seeds when the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tennis Tournaments get underway on Friday in Fremont. The Hastings men will play either Midland or Concordia in the semi-finals at 2:00pm. The Hastings women are the number five seed in the tournament and will play Concordia in the quarterfinals at 11:30am.

Hastings College finished second yesterday at the GPAC Men's Golf Qualifier #4 at the Landsmeer Golf Course in Orange City, Iowa. The Broncos had a team score of 298. Northwestern won the event with a 287. Ben Vetrovsky of Hastings had the low round of the day with a 70. In the final standing, Hastings College finished fourth overall with a 1230. Northwestern won the championship with a 1207, followed by Nebraska Wesleyan and Midland. Justin Kraft of Northwestern was the individual champion with a 292. Vetrovsky finished second with a 297.

Game times have been announced for the UNK/Central Missouri MIAA Tournament baseball series scheduled for this week in Warrensburg, Missouri. The two teams will play single nine inning games on Thursday and Friday at 6:00m. If necessary, a third game will be held Saturday at 2:00pm. The Lopers are 29-19. The Mules are 28-20. The winner advances to the next round of the tournament in Kansas City May 7th -9th.

Lopers Summers Qualifies for Golf Regionals

Junior Ana Summers will represent the Nebraska-Kearney women's golf team in the 2015 NCAA Central Regional May 3-5 (Sunday-Tuesday) in Bartlesville, Okla.

Summers (Bellevue, Colo.), with a team-best 80.16 season stroke average, received one of the region's four individual spots. Each region qualifies nine teams with four players not from one of those teams also receiving a bid.

Two years ago, Summers tied for 28th at the Central Regional in St. Joseph, Mo. Over 54 holes, she shot a 252 (86-84-82).

This year's regional will be held at the Hillcrest C.C. with MIAA-member Northeastern State serving as the host school. The top three teams, along with the top three individuals not with a team, will advance to the NCAA Championships May 13-16 in Allendale, Mich.

Overall, UNK has sent three players to the NCAA Championships, the last being Sara Wissing in 2010.

Bongers MIAA Track Athlete of the Week

Marissa Bongers, Nebraska-Kearney
Broke her own school-record at 800 meters, turning in a 2:08.30 to place runner up at the Drake Relays last Thursday. The time leads the MIAA, ranks 5th in D2 and is just below the automatic NCAA time of 2:08.00. The senior is a native of Brainard, Neb. where she competed at East Butler.

Loper Tournament Times Set

Game times have been announced for the Nebraska-Kearney/Central Missouri MIAA Tournament baseball series scheduled for this week in Warrensburg, Mo.

The teams will play single nine inning games on Thursday and Friday at 6:00 p.m. If necessary, a third game will be held Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The winner advances to Kansas City the following weekend.

UNK comes in with 29-19 mark while UCM is 28-20.

Loper Showcase Talent in Spring Game

Senior quarterback Bronson Marsh threw four touchdown passes, three over 58 yards, and the defense came up with eight sacks and two turnovers in the 2015 Nebraska-Kearney spring game Saturday at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.

A crowd of 1,750 watched the two-hour affair that pitted the offense vs. the defense. There were no kickoffs, tackles on punting plays and QB's were, for the most part, not tackled.

Using four different QB's, the offense managed racked up 517 yards and 31 points with the defense having two red zone turnovers and several tackles for loss.

Marsh (Millard South H.S.) was 11 for 20 for 377 yards, one INT and scoring passes of 7, 58, 70 and 75 yards. His favorite target was senior receiver Cougar Williams (Hanford, Calif.), who had five catches for 186 and three scores. A Fresno State transfer, Williams earned 2014 All-MIAA honors as he averaged a team-best 20.7 yards per catch.

The scoring started in the second quarter when Marsh hooked up with senior receiver Dalton Sealey (St. Cecilia) from 75 yards out. Williams then caught a 70-yard bomb seven minutes later and added scores of seven and 58 yards late in the 4th quarter.

Sandwiched in between those TD's was a 47-yard field goal by sophomore Brendan Wentling (Grand Island H.S.).

"The biggest change in the offense is the pace. We also have some different schemes and Coach (Lamberson) has really helped my fundamentals," said Marsh. "Cougar is really fast and works very hard. Just having him out there helps loosen up a defense."

In the backfield, two-time All-MIAA running back Romero Cotton (Hutchinson, Kan.) had seven carries for 30 yards, including a long scamper of 21 yards. He also caught two passes for 69 yards.

Next, sophomore Caleb Lundgren (Kearney H.S.) had five totes for a team-high 31 yards with redshirt freshman Cameron Singletary (Jacksonville, Fla.) having 12 receiving and 20 rushing yards.

On defense, junior buck Trey Andersen (Kearney H.S.) picked off Marsh in the first quarter to stop a potential scoring drive. Later, Kenesaw sophomore backer Tyler Schnitzler forced a fumble that was picked up by sophomore d-linemen Nathan Hinrichs (Adams Central H.S.).

Schnitzler ended the game with five solo tackles, including one TFL, as well as four punts for 146 yards.

Linebackers Jesse Ackerman (Juniata) and Tyke Kozeal (Sargent) tied for the team lead in stops with seven a piece with junior end Peyton Lange (Elkhorn) and sophomore d-linemen Devin Hernandez-Cronk (Ord) combining for 4.5 sacks.

UNK begins the 2015 season on Thursday, September 3rd, when NW Missouri State comes to down. Fall camp is set for mid-August.

Loper Tennis Awaits NCAA Tournament

The Nebraska-Kearney tennis teams finished second (men) and fourth (women) at the 2015 MIAA Tournament Sunday in Springfield, Mo.

The 28th-ranked Loper men (20-4) fell 5-0 to 19th-ranked NW Missouri State while the UNK women (21-7) lost 5-3 to the Bearcats.

On the men's side, Kearney and Northwest (18-6) may meet next week in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In the latest NCAA Region Rankings, the 'Cats were second and the Lopers third. Only three Central teams make the NCAA's this year with the second seed hosting the third.

Falling at Northwest 6-3 on April 17th, the Lopers fell behind 3-0 after doubles today. It easily could've been a 2-1 UNK lead but Northwest won 9-8 at both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.

The 'Cats wrapped up the dual win with straight set victories at No. 5 and No. 6 singles.

The UNK women, ranked fifth in the Central, grabbed a 2-1 lead after their doubles matches. Northwest (19-7) came in ranked third in the region. This year, seven teams make the NCAA from the Central.

Junior Paula Jimenez (Spain) and senior Kristin Weems (Arlington, Texas) won 8-4 in the second spot with senior Kari Emery (Tucson, Ariz.) and freshman Emma Neil (Papillion-LaVista H.S.) winning 8-3 at No. 3 doubles.

While Emery rolled at No. 6 singles (6-1, 6-1), the 'Cats won four other match ups to wrap up the dual win. Sophomore Emily Fink (Elkhorn South H.S.) did fall in three sets at No. 4 singles (6-4, 4-6, 6-3).

The NCAA pairings come out later this week.

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