The Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team continued to finish strong Friday, defeating Rockhurst 3-1 in the NCAA Division II semifinals in Denver.
The second-ranked Lopers won 25-23, 24-26, 25-22, 25-19 to advance to Saturday's 6 p.m. championship match against top-ranked Cal State San Bernardino, which defeated No. 11 Regis in four sets.
One day after winning three straight sets following a first-set loss, UNK responded to a second-set loss Friday with two in a row against Rockhurst, of Kansas City, Missouri. The Lopers held the Hawks to .070 hitting in the fourth set.
Julianne Jackson had a match-high 20 kills for UNK and Anna Squiers added 19 on a team-best .375 hitting.
Nebraska-Kearney (38-0) won the tight opening set on a block by Madison Squiers and Josie Cox. Jackson had five kills and Anna Squiers four kills in the set.
The Lopers never led in the second set, but tied it three times late. Rockhurst led 5-1, and UNK finally pulled even at 22-22 after three consecutive points started by an Anna Squiers kill. Rockhurst won it on a UNK hitting error. Nebraska-Kearney hit just .145 in the set, its worst showing of the match.
Nebraska-Kearney bounced back in the third set, never trailing after three straight points — two on kills by Jackson — made it 6-5, and UNK won the set when Madison Squiers and Cox combined for a block. The Lopers had their best hitting set of the match at .255.
Jackson had four kills in the clincher, setting up match point with a kill. Anna Squiers finished it off with a kill assisted by her sister Madison Squiers.
Jackson and Lindsay Nottlemann each had 19 digs for the Lopers; Mary Katherine Wolfe had 18 digs and nine kills, three in the fourth set.
Nebraska-Kearney's championship match opponent, Cal State San Bernardino, was a 25-18, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17 winner, led by Alexis Cardoza's 22 kills.
With the Coyotes at 32-0, the teams in the final are a combined 70-0.