The No. 8 Huskers came out of their slump and took down the No. 7 Nittany Lions 3-2 in an intense battle on Friday, Nov. 2. The game was the 250th consecutive sellout for the program.
Penn State took a quick 5-3 lead to start off the match. Midway through the first set, the game stayed even at 12-12. Points went back and forth until Nebraska distanced itself by three points, leading 18-15.
Libero Kenzie Maloney dove into Nebraska’s bench to save a play that ended in a block by middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach to extend the Huskers lead 20-16. Penn State answered with three more points, but Nebraska kept pushing, extending the lead 23-19. Penn State wasn’t quick to give up the first set, as they came back and tied the game 25-25. The Nittany Lions ended the first set 27-25 with block errors from outside hitter Lexi Sun and Schwarzenbach.
The second set was just as close. Nebraska took the early lead this time, starting at 9-6. Kills from outside hitter Jazz Sweet, Sun and a block from Sweet and Schwarzenbach extended the Nebraska lead 15-10. Four more points by Nebraska forced Penn State to take a timeout as the game closed in on the end of the set.
Nebraska then earned the largest lead of the game at 23-14, after attack errors by Penn State outside hitter Taylor Leath and middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord. A service error by the Nittany Lions brought the set to game point. After a few attempts of Penn State closing the gap, Nebraska earned that last point, taking set two 25-19.
The Huskers earned the first point in the set and from there it was an even game until Nebraska took the largest lead of the game at 9-7. Both teams continued to battle it out and keep it close as the match came to 19-17, Penn State leading.
An attack error by Parker earned Nebraska another point, but Penn State earned three straight points to create a four point deficit at 22-18. However, it wasn’t over for Nebraska. After a Nebraska timeout, the team came out with fire and kills from Sun and Sweet brought the game 23-20. It wasn’t enough to top the Nittany Lions, as an attack error by outside hitter Mikaela Foecke gave Penn State the game-point, 25-21.
Nebraska came out swinging in the fourth set. Taking the first two points, Nebraska went on a 6-3 run to take the lead 8-3. Nebraska continued to distance themselves from the Nittany Lions and an attack error by Nia Reed extended the Nebraska lead to 16-10.
The Husker offense pushed to the end of the set and forced a Penn State timeout at 20-13. Kills from Foecke and attack errors by Penn State brought the game 24-18. Sun ended the set with a kill at 25-18.
The fifth set started with a lead by Penn State at 3-1, but Nebraska quickly matched their score and went up to lead 8-5. Nebraska’s offense kept building and forced a Penn State timeout at 10-6, Nebraska leading. After four straight points by the Huskers and two more by Penn State, Sun took the fifth set 15-8, defeating Penn State 3-2.
Both teams appeared evenly matched in offense. Sun and Leath tied the game with 16 kills each, followed by Foecke and Hord with 15. Stivrins dominated the game, hitting .522 on the night and had only one attack error.
Nebraska defensively had 20 blocks on the night with Stivrins leading this aspect as well. One solo block and nine block assists brought the Penn State offense down and led to the Husker victory.
John Cook and the Huskers take on Rutgers at the Bob Devaney Sports Complex on Saturday, Nov. 3. Game time is 7 p.m. and coverage will be on NET and BTN2Go.