kubik illinois 10.16

Nebraska’s Madi Kubik (10) readies to return the ball during their match against Illinois at the Bob Devaney Center on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Coming into the Saturday night’s match, No. 9 Nebraska volleyball was on a seven game winning streak, with its last two wins being sweeps. 

Tonight, the Huskers made it eight straight wins and three straight sweeps as they easily handled Big Ten foe Illinois. 

Nebraska finished the night with 42 kills, five blocks and a hitting percentage of .267. Leading the way for the Huskers in kills was junior outside hitter Madi Kubik, who tied her season high of 19 for the third time. Kubik did however conclude the match with a new season high hitting percentage of .457. 

Behind Kubik was freshman outside hitter Lindsay Krause with seven kills and a hitting percentage of .263. Senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins was third for Nebraska with five kills and a hitting percentage of .455.

“We focused on a really great game plan tonight,” head coach John Cook said postgame. “We did a really good job not allowing them to get on any runs. It allowed us to play consistently at a high level.”

The match started off with back-and-forth action as although Nebraska had the lead, Illinois was right on its heels. However, as the opening set went on, the Huskers slowly expanded their lead over the Fighting Illini. 

Yet, despite valiant efforts by Nebraska, miscues on both sides kept things close. In total, the two teams finished set one with a total of 26 errors. After a media timeout, when the score was 15-11 Huskers, things seemed to stay the same. Nebraska got points, and so did Illinois. 

The Fighting Illini even called timeout as the Huskers made the score 17-12 to try and halt any Husker momentum. Yet, the miscues continued on both sides, but Illinois began making more. As the score reached 20-13, the Fighting Illini called their second timeout to once again make an attempt to stop Nebraska’s momentum. It at first seemed to be working, as Illinois was able to close the deficit down to 23-19. 

That was until the Huskers called their first timeout to stop the Illini’s momentum. Despite Illinois reaching 21 points, a service error by the Fighting Illini gave Nebraska the 25-21 win to take set one.

“Something that we’ve kind of rolled with is find a way,” Kubik said postgame. “A kill may not be pretty, but we’re going to find a way to get kills. But there’s no right way to do it.”

The second set opened up much similar to the first set, a battle with miscues. However, the miscues died down as the set went on. Yet, Illinois was still on the hunt, despite multiple attempts by the Huskers to pull away with the lead. But, when the score became 15-10, Nebraska struck. 

When the Fighting Illini called their second timeout of the set, the Huskers were now up 20-13. Even with the timeout, Nebraska’s momentum was already too extreme for Illinois to handle. The Huskers would cap off the set with three straight points to win 25-15. 

It was the Fighting Illini that came out swinging in set three, as they took and held the lead early on. But Nebraska refused to let Illinois take off, and even took the lead after tying the set at six. Then it seemed the Huskers erupted, which was represented by an extended rally capped off by a kill from senior outside hitter Lexi Sun to make the score 10-7. 

But Illinois refused to give up easily, staying close behind Nebraska’s lead. Even when the Huskers’ lead grew to as many as seven, Illinois found a way to stay in the fight. Following a Nebraska timeout, with the score 22-18, the Huskers put the match away. Kubik finished the third set with a powerful kill in the middle of the Fighting Illini’s side of the court, to win 25-19. 

“Illinois was a really great serving team,” Cook said. “That’s why we couldn’t allow them to get hot and we did.”

With this win, Nebraska is now 14-3 on the season and 8-0 in Big Ten play. The team’s next match will be a road trip to Iowa City, Iowa to face the Hawkeyes. The match is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20 and can be viewed on Big Ten Network Plus.