No. 3 Minnesota handed No. 5 Nebraska their third straight loss, and fourth Big Ten loss on Saturday, Oct. 20.
The Gophers topped the Huskers 3-1 in Nebraska’s third consecutive road match against top ten teams.
The game started with both teams coming out strong. Minnesota took a quick lead, 4-2, but Nebraska didn’t allow the Gophers’ lead to continue to grow. The Huskers answered with a six more points before taking the lead at 9-8 with a service ace by libero Megan Miller. After the ace, Nebraska went on a 5-2 run to secure a four-point lead in the first set.
Nebraska continued to distance themselves as they pushed toward the end of the set, leading 20-14. Minnesota added a few more points, but it wasn’t enough to even the game. Kills from middle blocker Lauren Stivrins and outside hitters Lexi Sun and Jazz Sweet helped Nebraska close the set 25-19.
Minnesota then came back in the second set. Nebraska took the first two points but the Gophers got back in the game and quickly took a 10-5 lead. Nebraska allowed the margin to widen with two attack errors and slow defense, making it an eight-point game with the Gophers leading 15-8. After taking a timeout and regrouping, the Huskers came back with a 13-5 run to even the score 20-20.
The fight to the end of the set was a close one. Both teams went back and forth but Minnesota pulled ahead 24-23, and an attack error by Sweet gave the second set to Minnesota and tired the match at 1-1.
Set three was intense, neither team wanted to give up the set. The ball seemed to never touch the floor and everyone dove to keep the ball alive. Minnesota started the set leading 7-1, but a Nebraska rally tied the score 14-14. The game stayed fairly even the rest of the set, with neither team letting the other get more than three points ahead. Nebraska fell behind at the end letting Minnesota lead 20-18.Minnesota continued to push and closed in on game point. An attack by outside hitter Alexis Hart sealed the third set for Minnesota, 25-23.
The fourth set was a battle just as tough as the third. The points went back and forth between the two teams until the game was tied at 14-14. After a service error from Minnesota tied the game, the Gophers took off on a 6-2 run, bringing the score 20-16. A service ace from libero CC McGraw and a kill from outside hitter Adanna Rollins extended the Minnesota lead to six points. Nebraska tried to come back by putting up two more points but the Gopher defense was too strong. The Gophers took the last three points and ended the set 25-18, winning the match 3-1.
With the win against Nebraska, Minnesota remains undefeated in Big Ten play and leads the conference. This is the Huskers fifth loss this season. Nebraska hasn’t lost more than four games in the season since 2014.
Sun and middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach seemed to switch roles for the evening. Schwarzenbach led the game hitting .462 on 13 total attacks and only two errors, while Sun led the Huskers with four blocks. Setter Nicklin Hames also stood out as she hit .375 in the game, the third highest percentage for the Huskers.
Regan Pittman led the Gophers hitting .444 on 18 attacks. Rollins led the game in points accounted for, sitting at 21 points against the Huskers, a new season high. She hit another season high with 20 kills in this game, previously 17 and against the Huskers.
Nebraska heads to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday, Oct. 24 in their last away match before returning to Lincoln. Game time is 6 p.m. and will be streamed on BTN Plus.