Nebraska volleyball overcame a tough-serving Indiana team Wednesday to pick up its 20th win of the season with a 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 sweep Nebraska knew coming into the match that Indiana was going to provide a unique challenge with its jump serves. Nebraska head coach John Cook told his team to be ready entering the match .
“I told them it’s like men’s volleyball,” Cook said postgame. “They are going to take big swings and they're ripping jump serves.”
The Hoosiers started hot and took a 7-4 lead. Nebraska fired back to nab its first advantage of the set at 11-10 on a kill by freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick. After the early spark by Indiana, it became a tightly-contested set throughout as neither side held more than a two point lead.
The Huskers took a 23-21 edge on two costly errors by the Hoosiers before finishing things off in the end. Nebraska scored the last two points on a kill from senior outside hitter Madi Kubik and a combined block from senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord and sophomore outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein to take the 25-22 win in set one.
The Huskers came out strong in set two, as they jumped ahead 9-3 to force the Hoosiers to call an early timeout. Indiana battled back with a 3-0 run of its own on a kill and two aces, to cut the Nebraska lead to 13-11 and force a Husker timeout. Cook alluded to the Huskers’ ability to adjust to the tough serves that Indiana was dealing.
“We struggled at times, but we hung in there, made some good adjustments, picked up our level, and played pretty well at the end of games,” Cook said.
The Huskers responded well, compiling a 5-1 run aided by two kills from Kubik and back-to-back aces from Lauenstein to gain a 19-13 advantage. The Huskers once again took advantage of late errors by the Hoosiers. They scored the final two points on Indiana service and attack errors to take the 25-18 victory in set two.
Nebraska began set three in dominant fashion. Allick and sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Krause stepped up early on, getting in on three straight Husker blocks that led to a 9-3 lead. Indiana then took advantage of two Nebraska attack errors to trim the lead to 15-12. Hord came up clutch when the Huskers needed her, recording her first kill of the night to put Nebraska ahead 19-15.
After another Hoosier hitting error, IU was forced to call a timeout. That decision proved fruitful for Indiana as it came out and recorded two straight kills and caused Nebraska to burn a timeout of its own. The Huskers bounced back, embarking on a 3-0 run with two kills and a block by Lauenstein to take a 23-17 lead. Lauenstein then recorded another kill, her eighth of the night, to give Nebraska set point. Indiana then fired long on match point to give the Huskers the 25-19 win in set three and the 3-0 victory in the match.
“We have really talked about effort and just giving it our all when it comes to defense.,” senior defensive specialist Kenzie Knuckles said postgame. “It’s all about grit and I think everyone’s taking that to heart,”
Kubik led the way for Nebraska offensively as she totaled nine kills in the game. Krause was the most efficient as she hit an outstanding .471 with eight kills and two blocks. She praised her teammates postgame for helping her have a great game.
“Overall we did a good job,” Krause said. “My setters were giving me some great balls, and I feel like we really picked up our play as a team in the second two sets so that was able to allow me to play my best.”
Lauenstein also added eight kills on the night. Senior Nicklin Hames led in the assist column with 20, and junior setter Anni Evans added 11. Sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez led defensively with 10 digs. Even though the Huskers didn’t have their best night offensively as they only hit .208 on the match, Cook thought they did a good job overall of handling Indiana.
“I thought we did a pretty good job and passed really well,” Cook said.
The Huskers improved to 20-2 overall and 12-1 in the Big Ten. Their next game will be at Northwestern on Sunday. First serve is set for 1:00pm and can be seen on BTN Plus.