No. 6 Nebraska swept Maryland, 3-0 in its last home match of the season while honoring three seniors on Saturday Nov. 24.
Nebraska dominated the game offensively in an emotional night for the Nebraska volleyball program to extend its winning streak to eight games.
Seniors Mikaela Foecke, Kenzie Maloney and Brooke Smith were honored following the win and even received a motivational speech by football head coach Scott Frost at the conclusion of the senior ceremony.
“He just told us that we played really well as a team and that was something they were striving for and the culture we have built here is something they look up to as a football team,” Maloney said. “He just encourage us to have no failure going into the tournament.”
Outside hitter Mikaela Foecke had an outstanding senior night, leading the game with 16 kills and a .577 hitting percentage. On 26 attacks, she only had one error and accounted for 17 of Nebraska’s 60 offensive points.
Middle blocker Lauren Stivrins was close behind Foecke with eight kills on the night and a .500 hitting percentage. Stivrins had six blocks and eight digs on the night. Stivrins led the game in blocks while accounting for 12 of Nebraska’s points.
Head coach John Cook was pleased with the way his team played and commended Maryland on their strong play as well.
“I thought our team came out really focused, dialed in tonight and we prepared really well for Maryland,” Cook said. “[Maryland] did a great job on both their big hitters Pritchard and Meyers and I think we played some good volleyball tonight.”
Nebraska was quick to take the lead at 7-2 in the first set against the Terrapins with kills from four Huskers and a service ace from setter Nicklin Hames. The Huskers continued to push and extended the score to 10-4 with kills from Jazz Sweet and Foecke, and with poor passing on the Maryland side, the Terrapins took a timeout to regroup.
Nebraska continued to keep its distance and pushed to an 11-point lead with a kill from Callie Schwarzenbach, bringing the score to 20-9. Two errors by Maryland and three kills from Foecke ended the first set, Nebraska winning 25-13.
Just like in set one, Nebraska took the early lead in set two. With Huskers leading by eight points lead, 9-1, the Terrapins took two timeouts within the first ten points of the game.
Over the next 15 points, Maryland stuck with Nebraska on a 9-6 run but the Huskers still held on to the nine-point lead at 18-7.
Two more points from each team brought the score to 20-9, as the game inched toward the end of the set. The Huskers only allowed one Maryland point, a kill from outside hitter Erika Pritchard, in the stretch toward the game point. A Maryland error and kills from Foecke and Stivrins, brought the set to game point, and libero Megan Miller sealed the set for Nebraska with a service ace ending the set 25-10.
The Terrapins stuck close with Nebraska in the beginning of the set. The game started even, but attack errors by Maryland and a kill from Stivrins pushed the Huskers ahead and started the 6-3 run to create a six-point deficit at 13-7.
Maryland was able to gain some strength and go on a 6-2 run to close the gap to two-points at 15-13, prompting Cook to take his first timeout of the match.
Coming out of the timeout, Nebraska held on to its lead and went on a 7-1 run, bringing the score to 22-14. Maryland answered with three kills and a block, but Nebraska held strong and earned three more points to close the set 25-18.
In the post-game press conference, the seniors had the chance to reflect on their time at Nebraska and said that of all of the venues they have played in, there truly was nothing like the Bob Devaney Sports Complex.
“I mean, there is no place like Nebraska and the fans really make it special,” Smith said.
Post-season play begins Friday, Nov. 30 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The selection show for the NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship will be Sunday Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU.