The UNI volleyball squad held off the third-place Bradley Braves in Peoria Friday before falling to their closest pursuers, the Illinois State Redbirds, in Normal on Saturday.
Those results leave UNI a half-game behind Illinois State with one conference game in-hand. Both teams have just one Missouri Valley Conference loss, and those have come in the two head-to-head meetings against each other. Both the Panthers and Redbirds won at home when the teams met.
Friday’s result versus Bradley came in straight sets, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23.
The Panthers and Braves traded points all match long with UNI edging the Bradley in the final moments of each set.
Karlie Taylor returned to the starting lineup after being sidelined by injury last weekend and led the Panthers with 14 kills. Kendyl Sorge added 20 digs to her season total.
Illinois State’s Saturday victory came in a full five sets, 25-20, 24-26, 25-14, 22-25, 15-11.
Middle hitter Piper Thomas showed why she is considered one of the best in the conference, recording 21 kills on 39 total attacks and only three errors for a team leading .462 attack percentage.
However, the Panthers had an uncharacteristic night offensively, recording 33 attack errors and a team attack percentage of just .158.
UNI returns to action on Friday, when the Missouri State Bears make their way to the McLeod Center.