On the surface, Nebraska had another routine sweep on Wednesday night, but another program milestone was achieved. The Huskers swept Michigan State at Jenison Fieldhouse for the first time in program history.
No. 6 Nebraska collected its third straight sweep, but unlike the last two, the Spartans showed some fight.
The Huskers won 25-20 in the first set but the Spartans led for the majority of the set. Nebraska found itself down early on due to a great Spartan defense.
Michigan State’s defense limited Nebraska scoring opportunities by forcing five attack errors and staying disciplined. Junior libero Jamye Cox led the Spartans with 17 digs and her impact allowed Michigan State to stay in system.
The great defensive effort was matched by the Huskers as both offenses hit nearly identical numbers, but the Husker errors saw Nebraska down 18-15. Then, Nebraska flipped the switch and went on a 7-0 run.
The run took the wind out of the Spartans’ sails and four Huskers contributed to an overall 10-2 run to take the set. Freshman Madi Kubik led the way on offense throughout the match as she had a team-high 16 kills.
“I’ve been telling the freshmen, it goes fast at the end,” head coach John Cook said during last Monday’s press conference. “They’re not freshmen anymore,... they got to be sophomores now.”
For the freshmen, this part of the season is the hardest for them. As Cook stated earlier in the week, high school season usually wraps up around this time.
Against Michigan State, Kubik and freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles did not feel the effects of the freshman fatigue. Knuckles had 11 digs, second-most of the game behind sophomore setter Nicklin Hames.
Those two were a part of Nebraska’s dominant second set win over the Spartans. Nebraska won 25-18 by playing its best offense and defense.
The Spartans hit .093 in the set thanks to an excellent Nebraska defense. In the front row, the Huskers had four total blocks from sophomore middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach and junior outside hitter Lexi Sun.
Nebraska forced seven attack errors, three more than they did in the first set and if there weren’t any defensive points, the Huskers were in prime position for offensive points. Nebraska hit .393 and had 16 kills in the set.
Nebraska took control for the majority of the set and there was never any doubt that the Huskers would win. A third set seemed to be heading the same way as Nebraska won the last two third sets with scores of 25-18 and 25-14.
Despite a dominant defensive Husker effort in the first two sets, the Spartans offense had their best set of the match against the Huskers in the final set.
Michigan State hit .323 while Nebraska hit .345, creating an offensive shootout for the final set. Neither team led by more than three points during the final set, which intensified the value of every error.
The one department Nebraska lacked in was serving and that almost bit them hard. The Huskers had four serving errors in the third set, doubling the amount from the first two sets.
Those uncharacteristic mistakes kept Michigan State in the set and gave it a chance to steal the third set. Nebraska cleaned up its errors and seemed to transfer them to the Spartans.
Michigan State had two serving errors and both occurred with the Spartans having at least 20 points. The first gave Nebaska a 22-20 lead and the second gave Nebraska a 24-23 lead.
Junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins had the final kill, which was her seventh kill of the match, marking another impressive outing for the All-American.
Nebraska comes back home on Nov. 16 to play Iowa at 7 p.m.