EVANSVILLE, Ind. – An historic season for the University of Evansville volleyball team came to a close in a hard-fought match against top seeded Northern Iowa inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse.  The Purple Aces put forth a stellar challenge from the outset but it was UNI advancing to Wednesday’s Missouri Valley Conference Championship match.

The 2022 campaign was a memorable one that included a program record for MVC victories, MVC Championship wins and individual accolades that included Alondra Vazquez setting the all-time UE program kills record and Giulia Cardona setting the single-season mark with 574 kills.

Cardona was the top performer on Tuesday, posting 19 kills, 3 assists and 2 aces.  Vazquez added 12 kills and 9 digs.  Kora Ruff recorded 33 assists while Blakeley Freeman picked up 10 digs.

Set 1 – UNI 25, UE 19

After Northern Iowa opened up a 3-0 stretch, they extended their lead to 6-2.  Vazquez put the team on her back, giving the Aces pinpoint serving as the squad registered four in a row to tie it up.  Back-to-back kills from Vazquez saw Evansville take its first advantage at 12-10.

UNI responded with four in a row to jump back in front before pushing their lead to 18-15.  A Panther error saw the Aces get within a pair before UNI pulled away for a 25-19 win and a 1-0 lead.

Set 2 – UNI 32, UE 30

Game two was a battle that saw both teams have chances to pick up the win.  Out of the gate, Evansville put forth another battle, taking an 8-6 lead on a Cardona ace and Emilee Scheumann kill.  The tides turned the Panthers way as they wrestled away an 11-9 lead, but Evansville swung things back in their direction with a 4-0 run.  Maddie Hawkins tallied an ace as UE retook a 13-11 edge.

Back-and-forth play ensued with the Panthers going up 19-17 before a 4-0 UE run was capped off by a Laura Ruiz ace that made it a 21-19 game.  Northern Iowa reeled off three in a row for another lead change before UE countered with a Cardona kill to have set point at 24-23.  Each team had its shot to end the set, including the Aces having set point on four occasions.  Up 30-29, the Aces looked to take control but it was the Panthers who were able to hang on for the 32-30 win.

Set 3 – UNI 25, UE 21

Following their win in the second set, UNI sprinted out to a 6-1 lead.  The persistent Aces crew never gave up, make it a 3-point game at 12-9.  Northern Iowa responded to push the lead to eight points – 19-11 – but UE still would not bow out of the fight.  Scoring eight of the next 11 points, the Aces made it a 22-19 game on a Kate Tsironis kill.  Unfortunately, UE just ran out of time as the Panthers took a 25-21 victory to clinch the match.