Nebraska volleyball swept Kentucky 3-0 in Minneapolis to extend its winning streak to 11 straight games. Nebraska had great momentum in the first two sets and Kentucky posed a challenge in the third, but a challenge Nebraska was able to overcome.
Outside hitter Mikaela Foecke led the game with 14 kills and a .303 hitting percentage. Foecke drove the offense against Kentucky by accounting for 16.5 of Nebraska’s points. She had the last three kills of the match.
Outside hitter Jazz Sweet and middle blocker Lauren Stivrins followed Foecke with a .273 hitting percentage each. Stivrins was able to get up with 22 attacks and only two errors. Sweet didn’t nearly have as many total attacks but was quite the playmaker when Nebraska needed it. Sweet had a number of block assists to stop the Kentucky offense and hit two kills to tie the game in third set.
The Nebraska defense stepped up and held Kentucky to hit under .300 the entire match. The Wildcats hit only .100 in the first set and held one of Kentucky’s best outside hitters, Leah Edmond, to .040 in the whole match. The team combined for 16 blocks against the Wildcats and had only four blocking errors. Middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach led the match with five total blocks.
Nebraska opened up the game with the ball and Callie Schwarzenbach earned a kill to take the first point of the game. After both teams put points on the board, Nebraska went on a 7-3 run to take the lead at 14-10. Nebraska continued to distance itself from Kentucky with blocks from Foecke and Stivrins, forcing a timeout at 18-13.
Stivrins hit a kill to start a 4-1 run that looked to end the set, but a net violation from Sun gave Kentucky the point at 24-15. The Wildcats hit two more kills before Foecke ended the set 25-17.
Nebraska came out swinging in the second set and pushed to keep its lead. Nebraska held Kentucky to a .136 hitting percentage in the second set. The Huskers went on a 6-1 run to open the set and took an 8-3 lead before Kentucky took another timeout. Foecke accounted for three of the first eight points of the set.
Kentucky started to come back and closed the deficit to two points and forced a Nebraska timeout at 17-15. With the help of the timeout Nebraska, regrouped and went on a 4-2 run. Kentucky stuck close with Nebraska but a Kentucky service error, kill from Sweet and two blocks from Foecke and Schwarzenbach ended the set at 25-20.
The third set was vital for Kentucky to stay in the game and the Wildcats seemed to make the most of it. Kentucky started off the set with the first two points and held the lead the first half of the set. After Nebraska tied the game at 6-6, Kentucky earned five straight points before it ended the perfect run with a service error and an 11-7 lead.
Kentucky continued to dominate the set and Nebraska fell behind to a seven-point deficit. But the Huskers were able to come back and close the gap to two points, 22-20. Nebraska scored three more points and tied the game up 23-23. A big point for Nebraska came after head coach John Cook challenged a Kentucky point, asking for a net violation and the point was overturned to bring the game to match point. Foecke ended the game with a kill to end the set 25-23, and the game 3-0.
Nebraska knew Kentucky had control and the team did its best to adjust playing and take back the set,” Nebraska assistant coach Kayla Banwarth said. She told Husker Sports Radio following the game that the Huskers saw what they needed to adjust and got back in the game.
“Kentucky was in control of the last set and we needed to take out our resiliency muscles and fight back,” Banwarth said.
Cook praised his team throughout the season on their resiliency and said the game today proved this Nebraska team can comeback from quite the deficit.
Nebraska will take on the winner of the Minnesota-Oregon matchup on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. in Minneapolis.