It was an intriguing week for No. 9 Nebraska volleyball. After practice on Monday, the team had Tuesday off due to it being Election Day. Then, on Wednesday, the team traveled out to No. 25 Illinois and afterwards played on Thursday night.
The next thing the team knew, it was capping off an almost actionless week with a battle against No. 7 Ohio State. Unfortunately, the Huskers couldn’t finish the week with the win, falling to the Buckeyes in a sweep.
As a team, Nebraska finished the match with 40 kills, 50 digs, 11 blocks and a hitting percentage of .203. Leading the way for the Huskers was junior outside hitter Madi Kubik, delivering 18 kills, two blocks, a service ace and had a hitting percentage of .400.
“Madi [Kubik] played well tonight,” head coach John Cook said postgame. “The problem was, nobody else gave her support. That’s pretty disappointing. We didn’t pass well tonight, but Madi [Kubik] made the most of it and was a bright spot.”
Senior outside hitter Lexi Sun was second for Nebraska on the night in kills with seven. Sun also finished with four blocks and a hitting percentage of .174. Senior middle blocker Kayla Caffey had four kills, four blocks and a hitting percentage of .167. Freshman outside hitter Lindsay Krause also had four kills, two blocks and a hitting percentage of .048.
Senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins rounded out the top five for the Huskers, finishing the match with three kills and seven blocks.
After opening the match with a point, Nebraska quickly fell behind to Ohio State 3-1. The Huskers did get within one point multiple times, both at 3-2 and then 3-4. However, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 9-3 lead before Nebraska got another point. In fact, it wasn’t just a point, it was four straight, all delivered by Kubik.
Ohio State’s response was three straight points to make the score 12-7. Another four-point run came from the Huskers and eventually tied the set at 14. Nebraska regained the lead but that did last long, however, as the Buckeyes quickly took the lead back 16-15.
The Huskers retook the lead at 17-16 and again at 18-17 before beginning to build upon that lead. Soon enough, the Huskers were up 21-17, when Ohio State called timeout. This seemingly gave the Buckeyes a boost as they cut the lead to 21-20.
Eventually, both teams were tied at 22. Nebraska tried to put things away as it pushed its lead to 24-22. But Ohio State tied things up at 24, then tied again when Nebraska had set point at 25-24. Then in the blink of an eye, the Buckeyes took the first set right under the Huskers’ feet 27-25, closing the set on a 5-1 run and surviving three different Nebraska set points.
Ohio State picked up right where it left off in the second set, going up 4-1, then 5-2 over Nebraska. Once again, however, the Huskers didn’t let themselves fall behind, tying up at five. As par for the course, Nebraska and Ohio State kept exchanging the lead between one another.
Following a tie at nine, the Buckeyes got an 11-9 lead, then a 12-10 lead, then a 13-11 lead. The Huskers did force another tie at 13, but Ohio State just responded with another surge of points. With the score now 17-13, Nebraska needed to get back into the set.
As the Buckeyes approached 20 points, things didn’t seem to be going the Huskers’ way. The score soon became 21-17, a reverse of what had happened in set one. Unlike the first, Ohio State wasn’t going to give Nebraska a chance to come back as the score was now 24-21. The Buckeyes put away the set, winning set two 25-21.
Ohio State opened up the third set with two straight points, which was followed by the Huskers doing the same. The teams then tied up at three before Nebraska took the lead 5-3. The Buckeyes responded with five straight to go up 9-5. The Huskers did drop in two points of their own to make 9-7, and eventually tied things up at 10.
Nebraska and Ohio State were deadlocked before the Huskers appeared to break away.. Nebraska broke the deadlock and built a 19-16 lead, then a 20-17 lead. However, Ohio State clawed back into the mix, tying the set at 21. Following consecutive ties, the Buckeyes got to set point.
Then, Ohio State completed the sweep.
“In the locker room, there wasn’t much to talk about,” Cook said. “Ohio State played great and we got to start getting better. It was a long road trip and we need some training time because I feel like we lost some of the things that made us play at a really high level.”
With this loss, the Huskers are now 17-6 on the season and 11-3 in conference play. The team’s next match will be at home on Nov. 12 against conference opponent Maryland. The match is set for 6 p.m. and can be viewed on the Nebraska Public Media network.