Friday night’s conference match against Rutgers marked the first of two straight road matches on the east coast for Nebraska volleyball, after only having one out-of-state trip through its first 11 games.
Despite that, the Huskers were practically unstoppable as they swept the Scarlet Knights in commanding fashion.
“This was one of, if not our best effort at Rutgers here,” head coach John Cook said postgame. “Sometimes we come here and don’t play very well. But this was a good effort.”
The match was all Nebraska all throughout. The Huskers finished with 42 kills off 84 attacks, 40 digs, a season-high 12 service aces and four blocks. Defensively, Nebraska held Rutgers to just 17 kills and a hitting percentage of -0.012.
Sophomore outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein led the way for the Huskers in kills, finishing with 11 off 23 attacks. Senior outsider hitter Madi Kubik was second on the team with nine kills off 16 attacks and added two blocks. Freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick and senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord added six kills each. Hord also led the team in blocks with three, while Allick had a couple of service aces.
Other notable performances in the match were from sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez and sophomore setter Kennedi Orr. The duo finished the match tied for first in digs (9) and service aces (3).
The Huskers came out on fire to start the match, jumping out to a solid 7-1 lead after landing three service aces. While Rutgers tried to get back into the fight, trimming the deficit to 9-5, the Huskers responded with a monster run. By the time the Scarlet Knights got another point, Nebraska was up 16-5.
The Huskers’ lead only grew larger, though, as they continued to dominate the set. When Nebraska reached set point, it had doubled Rutgers’ points, 24-12. Following a kill by the Scarlet Knights, a service error gave Nebraska set one.
The Huskers’ momentum continued into the second set as they built a 12-4 before the Scarlet Knights called a timeout. That didn’t halt Nebraska in the slightest as it maintained its commanding offense. Once again, the Huskers found themselves with a massive lead. When Rutgers burned its second timeout of the set, Nebraska was up 20-6. Like the first timeout though, the Huskers simply returned with the same firepower, putting away set two 25-7.
Nebraska had a hiccup though during the start of the third set. While the Huskers held the lead, errors kept the Scarlet Knights in the hunt, making it a one-score game throughout. Nebraska kept pretty clean throughout the match, but gave up nine errors in the latter set. However, when the score reached 13-12, the Huskers had a resurgence. Like a runaway train, Nebraska took off with the lead and put away set three, 25-15.
With the win, the No. 3 Huskers are now 11-1 on the season and 3-0 in conference play. They’ll remain on the road with a trip to Maryland on Sunday. The first serve is set for noon and can be viewed on Big Ten Plus.