After a painfully slow start, No. 4 Nebraska dominated Iowa in Iowa City last night 3-0 (25-22, 25-14, 25-9) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, improving their record to 16-2 (8-1) and advancing their win streak to eight.
The first set was a bumpy one, as the Huskers hit an astonishingly low .143 percent and had more attack errors, service errors and three fewer kills than the Hawkeyes. Yet, they squeezed away with a 25-22 set win.
Down 19-14, Coach John Cook called his second time-out of the half, and really laid into the team, which he thinks helped spark the Huskers.
“I was very worried,” Coach Cook said in a radio interview after the match. “Sometimes the ladies gotta know what’s what, sometimes the coach has gotta light a little fire.”
The fire was lit, as NU won 11 of the last 14 rallies to squeeze by, and from there Nebraska never looked back.
“We couldn’t find a way to push back against them,” said Iowa defensive specialist Bethany Yeager in a postgame press conference. “We started strong. After the first set, we were not clicking.”
Though Iowa tried, the match was soon lopsided after the first set. Nebraska went on to dominate Iowa the rest of the match 50-23.
“It was a disappointing finish. Nebraska pushed us around in the last two sets,” Iowa coach Sharon Dingman said after the match.
NU’s offense was clicking on all cylinders as they hit .316 percent and nailed 42 balls for kills, as well as recorded a season-high seven service aces. Gina Mancuso lead the attack with 12 kills and .300 hitting percentage, and Morgan Broekhuis had a stellar game as well with 10 kills and five blocks. Lauren Cook added 35 assists, as well as led the team with two service aces.
“Anytime you can hit .300 on the road in the Big Ten against a team as good as defensively as Iowa, that’s a really good night,” Coach Cook said. “It took us awhile to kind of feel them out and execute the game plan.”
The Huskers also played one the their best defensive games of the year, out-digging the best digging team in the Big Ten by 10 (50 to 40) and holding Iowa to hit just .094, a season low for them.
“We put on a clinic tonight,” Cook said. “After we won game one, they really, I thought we put on a clinic the last two games. Nobody has done that to Iowa which we did tonight.”
Iowa (10-12, 2-7) had a huge week last week, knocking off Indiana, a team Nebraska struggled with and beat in five sets, in only three. Then, the Hawkeyes beat Purdue in straight sets, the equivalent to what Nebraska did last week as well.
“They’ve been right on par with us, they’re a very good team and we just took it to them in games two and three,” Coach Cook said. “Iowa just doesn’t get beat 3-0, and we did that tonight.”