The No. 6 Nebraska volleyball team won its fifth consecutive match when it took down No. 12 Purdue 3-1 on Friday night in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The Huskers improved to 21-6 (12-5 Big Ten) with the victory.
Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun led the Huskers with 13 kills in the match and also recorded 11 digs to finish with a double double. Senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke also earned a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. The pair hit five aces against Purdue, with Sun recording three service aces and Foecke two.
Nebraska’s middle blockers also had productive nights. Sophomore Lauren Stivrins finished with 10 kills and four blocks. Freshman Callie Schwarzenbach notched eight kills — one shy of her career high, four blocks and a team-high .353 hitting percentage.
Purdue senior hitter Sherridan Atkinson led all players with 20 kills in the match.
The contest was evenly matched in most areas. Nebraska hit .209 as a team and Purdue finished with a .208 hitting percentage. The Huskers earned three more kills than the Boilermakers, holding a 55-52 advantage, but Purdue earned 13 blocks to Nebraska’s nine.
The Huskers separated themselves from the serving line Friday night to come out on top. Nebraska finished with 11 service aces and five errors. Purdue had just one ace and 11 errors from the service line.
The Huskers started off the night by fending off a Purdue comeback attempt in the first set. After an even start to the match resulted in the teams being tied at four, Nebraska scored four in a row with Foecke at the service line to take an 8-4 lead.
Nebraska expanded its 4-0 run into a 9-3 run, which improved the lead to 13-7. During the stretch, the Huskers scored two service aces with one coming from each Foecke and Stivrins. Schwarzenbach also notched a pair of kills during the scoring run.
Facing a six-point deficit, Purdue called timeout.
The Boilermakers scored three consecutive points out of the break to cut Nebraska’s lead in half at 13-10. The Huskers held their lead for the next few points, but another 3-0 scoring run by Purdue tied set one at 15.
Following a Nebraska timeout, the Boilermakers took their first lead since being up 4-3, as they scored back-to-back points to take a 17-15 lead. The lead didn’t last long, as the Huskers fought back to tie the set at 18.
The teams traded the next two points to remain tied at 19. The Huskers seemed to put the set away as they scored the next five points to reach set point at 24-19. Purdue scored three in a row to come with two points of Nebraska, but Sun put the set away and gave the Huskers a 25-22 first set victory.
Set two was close throughout, with neither team holding more than a two-point lead until late in the set. Ultimately it was the teams’ performances from the service line that made the difference.
Trailing 2-1 early, Nebraska scored back-to-back points on a service error by Purdue and an ace from Maloney to take a 3-2 lead. Maloney committed an error on her next serve which tied the set back up at three.
Freshman libero Megan Miller erred on the Huskers’ next serve and that allowed the Boilermakers to tie the set at four.
Service errors seemed to be contagious as Foecke also mishit her next serve to allow Purdue to stay knotted with Nebraska at five.
The two teams continued to go back and forth for a majority of the set and remained deadlocked at 17. Up to that point, the largest lead for either team was 16-14 for the Huskers
Purdue took the next point to take an 18-17 lead, but a service error on the next play by the Boilermakers’ freshman defensive specialist Marissa Hornung gave Nebraska the serve and tied the set once again at 18.
With Maloney at the service line, Nebraska finally started to pull away as it went on a 5-0 run, which included an ace serve to go up 23-18. The Huskers eventually won the set 25-20 with Nebraska’s final two points coming courtesy of Purdue serving errors.
In the third set, the Huskers dug themselves into a hole that they nearly managed to climb out of, but ultimately could not.
Much like the first two sets, the two teams were evenly matched early and played to a 4-4 tie. This time around, it was the Boilermakers who pulled away. Purdue scored three points in a row to take a 7-4 lead.
Nebraska faced this deficit for most of the set, unable to get closer than within two points of the lead, and eventually fell behind 20-15.
From there, the Huskers began their comeback attempt. A kill by freshman outside hitter Capri Davis started a 5-1 run that slashed Purdue’s lead to 21-20. A service error and kill by each team kept the one-point Boilermaker lead at 23-22. The Huskers could not get over the hump, however, as Purdue scored the final two points to win the third set 25-22.
Despite losing set three, Nebraska seemed to gain some momentum from the end of the set that carried over into set four. Hames opened the set with a service ace and Back-to-back aces by Sun a few rallies later increased Nebraska’s lead to 6-2.
The Huskers kept their four-point advantage at 13-9. Then the team decided they needed to finish this match so they could get on the road to travel to Bloomington, Indiana for their contest on Saturday night with the Hoosiers.
Nebraska went on a 7-1 scoring run to double Purdue’s score at 20-10. Sun added to her strong fourth-set performance with three kills during this stretch.
The Boilermakers managed to get within seven points, but Nebraska eventually won the set 25-17 to take the match 3-1. Just like the second set, the Huskers’ final point came on a Purdue service error.
The Huskers will stay in Indiana to take on the Hoosiers Saturday night. First serve is set for 6 p.m. CST, and the match will air on BTN Plus.