The No. 3 Huskers finished their Illinois road trip in Evanston, Illinois where the Huskers battled for a tough sweep. Nebraska swept Northwestern but needed comebacks and a strong showing from its offense.
Nebraska swept Northwestern 25-21, 25-17 and 30-28. The Huskers remain undefeated in conference play and move to 10-1 this season.
The Huskers had another slow start in set one, falling behind 8-2 early on. It appeared there was a little bit of a hangover from the Illinois match a day earlier.
Nebraska was down by as much as eight in the first set, but the Huskers mounted a comeback as the Huskers cut the lead to five. Northwestern fought back to maintain a steady 17-10 lead.
Then, Nebraska went on a dominant 12-1 run to take a 22-18 lead against the Wildcats. The Huskers flipped the set quickly through junior outside hitter Jazz Sweet and freshman outside hitter Madi Kubik.
Sweet led the Huskers in kills for the second straight night with 13 kills at a .526 hitting percentage. Sweet kicked off the 12-1 run with two straight kills. Kubik had two kills later in the set to help Nebraska’s offense get back on track.
Nebraska won the first set 25-21 and the offense carried its momentum into the second set. Nebraska hit .478 and dominated the Wildcats, winning 25-17 to gain a commanding 2-0 lead.
Junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins bounced back from a poor performance against Illinois with 10 kills while hitting .615 against Northwestern. Stivrins’ three consecutive serving aces in the second set when Nebraska was down 8-5 gave the Huskers a significant boost.
More importantly, the Nebraska defense got back on track forcing the worst offensive set of the match for the Wildcats. Northwestern hit .190 and could not get on track thanks to the Nebraska block.
Sophomore middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach had four solo blocks and Nebraska had nine solo blocks in the match. Solo blocks means only one player blocks an attack and a block resurgence gave Nebraska its finest set of the match.
Nebraska won the second set but Northwestern showed to have no quit. The third set was the match finale, but was the best set of the match.
The third set saw neither team lead by more than five points as the two teams kept trading the lead. Nebraska led 3-0 to start the match before Northwestern evened it up and the schools exchanged scoring runs.
Nebraska went on a 4-0 run to go up 16-12 before Northwestern tied the match at 16. Northwestern outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara was the driving force behind tying the game up and was the best attacker on the Wildcats in the match. Thomas-Ailara had 16 kills but only hit at a .159 hitting percentage.
The Huskers defense limited Northwestern to a .190 hitting rate and forced 20 attack errors from Northwestern tonight. In the third set alone, Northwestern committed seven attack errors and hit .220.
The Huskers offense continued with a .310 hitting percentage in the third set and had 21 kills. Despite the good numbers, Nebraska also had eight attack errors.
With both teams playing well, the back-and-forth set went into sudden death. Northwestern was up 24-23 but could not seal the deal as junior outside hitter Lexi Sun’s kill moved the set to 24-24.
The Wildcats led multiple times but could not put away Nebraska. With the match tied at 28, the Huskers got the two consecutive points needed to win the set and the match. Stivrins and Sun had the final two kills to end the match.
Nebraska’s trip to Illinois ends after this match but the Huskers still continue their road trip. Nebraska next plays at Rutgers on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m.