KEARNEY, Nebraska – The No. 8 seed Harding volleyball team upset third-ranked and No. 1 seed Nebraska-Kearney 3-2 (21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-25, 15-9) Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Central Region Tournament. The Lady Bisons advance to play ninth-ranked Concordia-St. Paul, the No. 4 seed, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
It was Harding's first win in the NCAA Tournament in its fifth try.
Harding became the first eight-seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in a NCAA regional since Erskine defeated South Carolina-Aiken in 2014.
Harding improved to 28-5 overall and extended its win streak to 14 matches.
Nebraska-Kearney ended its season with a 33-3 record. Harding and Washburn were the only two teams to defeat UNK this season. Washburn did it twice.
Nebraska-Kearney was the highest ranked opponent Harding has ever beaten. It was the Lady Bisons fifth win all-time against a ranked opponent. Harding's last win against a ranked team was earlier this season against No. 17 Colorado School of Mines.
Harding took a 12-7 lead in the first set before Nebraska-Kearney tied the set at 15. With the set tied at 18, Nebraska-Kearney went on a 6-3 run to win the set 25-21. Nebraska-Kearney had 16 kills and hit .218 in the set.
Nebraska-Kearney took a 9-7 lead in the second set. Harding battled back to tie the set at 10 and then took a 15-12 lead on a 5-1 run. Trailing 21-19, the Lady Bisons went on a 6-1 run to win the set 25-22. Harding had 18 kills and hit .333.
Harding carried its momentum to the third set jumping out to a 13-8 lead. The Lady Bisons didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way as they won the set 25-21. Harding had 18 kills in the set and hit .314.
With the fourth set tied at six, Nebraska-Kearney went on an 11-0 run to lead 17-6. The Lopers went on to win the set 25-15. Nebraska-Kearney had 18 kills and hit .410 in the set.
With the fifth set tied at three, Harding took a 7-3 advantage on a 4-0 run. Leading 10-8, the Lady Bisons went on a 5-1 run and a kill by Zoe Hardin gave Harding the 15-9 set win. Harding had 0 errors in the fifth set with nine kills and 23 attacks.
- Zoe Hardin led Harding with 15 kills and 13 blocks. Hardin's 11 block assists tied for the fourth most in Harding history.
- Emma Reeves had 20 kills and hit .383 in the match.
- Rachel Heussner had 58 assists and 11 digs.
- Madison Poen had 13 kills and 16 digs.
- Taylor Lake had 33 digs for Harding. Taylor Eubank had 13.
- Kendall Schroer led Nebraska-Kearney with 26 kills.
- MK Wolfe had 11 kills and 22 digs for the Lopers.
- Ellie McDonnell led the defense with 30 digs.
- Nebraska-Kearney had 115 digs in the match.