Both Nebraska and Michigan State volleyball came into Friday’s match with 11 wins on the season and were looking to add another victory. The Huskers came out on top, taking the match 3-1.
The stars of the match were the junior trio of Lexi Sun, Jazz Sweet and Lauren Stivrins, who combined for 42 of the 53 total kills by the Huskers.
Along with the dominant attacking, the Huskers held Michigan State to a hitting percentage of just .038, while also getting 14 blocks.
“It was nice to see that fight in our team defensively, because we’ve been struggling with that recently, but I thought we did a great job of that tonight,” Stivrins said. “I think we were getting a lot of good touches on the block and I think that our defenders were all in great positions as well, and I think that the effort was there tonight.”
Michigan State had the lead for part of the first set, but the Huskers were in the hunt, trailing by no more than three points all set. Soon the teams were tied at 10, until the Huskers knocked in five kills to take the lead. However, the Spartans continued to fight as they closed in on the Huskers. After tying it again at 21, Michigan State jumped out to take the set 25-21.
“I thought we would come out and really fire on all cylinders tonight, but we were a little bit out of whack and tentative and just not very sure because we had a great week of practice,” head coach John Cook said. “We’ve got to get more emotionally tougher, because we can’t give up those runs like at the end of game one.”
In the second set, the Huskers came out on fire as they took a 6-0 lead. The Spartans tried to stay in the fight, but Nebraska kept ahead by more than three throughout the set. The Huskers soon pulled away to take the set 25-15 and tied the match up at one.
In the third set, Nebraska didn’t give Michigan State a chance as it jumped to a 22-11 lead. Nebraska would then take the set 25-14.
“After game one, I told them they’re gonna have to take the momentum back,” Cook said. “and they came out and made a big run right there with Nicklin serving and I thought we played some really good volleyball for games two and three.”
In the fourth set, Michigan State attempted to bounce back as it fought for an early lead. This would then become a back-and-forth shootout, including an extended rally that ended with an attack error giving the Huskers the point and the lead, 10-9.
“Tonight we worked really hard out there,” Sun said. “We fought for every point and we were able to win points like that. There were a few long rallies that we were going back and forth with and we kept working and fighting and were able to win those rallies which gave us a lot of momentum.”
The Spartans wouldn’t go away quietly, but the Huskers kept Michigan State at bay going into the final set. The Huskers ended the match with a kill by Jazz Sweet to win 25-22, sealing the game in favor of Nebraska.
“Game four was great, we won some big rallies and Michigan State made some nice plays to stay in it and we finished it off at the end. It was a good win for the Huskers and we did some really good things tonight and we got to continue to clean up some things,” Cook said.
The Huskers are now 12-2 on the season and 4-1 in conference play. Their next game will be at home on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m., where they will host the Michigan Wolverines.