GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 5 Nebraska volleyball team fell to No. 18 Oregon in its season opener, 3-1 (20-25, 21-25, 26-24, 23-25), on Friday night at Exactech Arena.
Nebraska got off to a hot start with a 10-2 lead in the first set, but the Ducks seized momentum with a 13-4 run and went on to win the first two sets. The Huskers fought back to win a wild third set that featured 17 ties and seven lead changes, but the Ducks closed out the Big Red in the fourth set, 25-23. Oregon outhit Nebraska .222 to .174.
The Huskers (0-1) were led by true freshman Jazz Sweet, who posted 14 kills on .375 hitting in her collegiate debut. Her 14 kills matched Kadie Rolfzen for the most by a Husker true freshman in a collegiate debut since Sarah Pavan’s 16 in 2004.
Mikaela Foecke had 13 kills and a career-high 17 digs for her first-career double-double. Lauren Stivrins had nine kills and five blocks in her first collegiate match, and Annika Albrecht had nine kills and 16 digs. Briana Holman added eight kills and three blocks.
Libero Kenzie Maloney led NU with a career-high 18 digs and served two aces. Sydney Townsend added 13 digs.
Redshirt freshman setter Hunter Atherton had 47 assists and six digs in her first collegiate match. The Huskers were without senior setter Kelly Hunter (injury) and junior outside hitter Olivia Boender (illness).
All-American Lindsey Vander Weide had 14 kills and 11 digs for the Ducks (1-0). Brooke Van Sickle had 11 kills and 22 digs.
Set 1: Nebraska bolted out of the gate to a 5-0 start with kills by Sweet and Holman and three Oregon hitting errors. After Oregon got on the board, Albrecht ripped two kills and Sweet followed for an 8-1 lead. The Huskers led 10-2 as Oregon spent its second timeout of the set. Out of the timeout, the Ducks went on a 4-0 run to cut it to 10-6 and force a Husker timeout. A pair of kills by Stivrins stopped the run and put NU up 12-6. The Ducks went on a 9-2 run to take a 15-14 lead before Sweet ended a long-rally with a kill to even the score at 15-15. Holman put the Huskers back in front and then combined with Albrecht for a block and a 17-15 lead. Oregon answered back with five straight points, including back-to-back service aces, to take a 20-17 lead. Oregon went on to a 25-20 win to go up 1-0 in the match. Both teams struggled offensively as Oregon outhit NU .140 to .118.
Set 2: Big runs were not to be found early in the second set as the teams battled back and forth. Oregon eventually went up 14-11 via three straight kills to force an NU timeout. A kill by Foecke ended Oregon’s rally, and a Holman kill followed by two Oregon hitting errors tied the set at 15-15. But Oregon regained a 19-16 lead with three consecutive kills and closed out the set on top, 25-21.
Set 3: Oregon jumped in front, 5-1, but Sweet continued her impressive Husker debut with her ninth and 10th kills around back-to-back aces by Maloney to even it at 5-5. A kill by Foecke gave the Huskers an 8-7 lead. Atherton served an ace and Foecke recorded another kill to put NU in front, 12-11. After Oregon regained a 13-12 lead, Sweet logged her 11th kill to make it 13-13. Stivrins swung the Huskers into a 16-15 lead, but Oregon took the lead back at 19-18. Holman hammered a kill to tie the set, 19-19, but a kill and an ace by Oregon put the Huskers down two, 21-19. Still trailing by two at 22-20, NU fought back with a kill by Stivrins, a block by Stivrins and Atherton, and a kill by Albrecht to go ahead 23-22. After an Oregon timeout, NU gained set point on a stuff block by Albrecht and Stivrins. Willow Johnson ended Townsend’s serve with a kill to cut it to 24-23, and Oregon used a block to tie the set, 24-24. The Ducks committed a service error for another Husker set point, and this time some great back row defense by the Huskers led to an eventual kill by Stivrins after a long rally to give the Huskers the set, 26-24.
Set 4: Nebraska trailed 7-3 before a kill and ace by Albrecht made it 7-5 Ducks. Foecke put down a pair of kills, and Holman added one to help NU get even at 9-9. The Huskers led 15-14 at the media timeout. Foecke gave NU a two-point lead at 17-15 with her 10th kill. Foecke continued to put away points for the Huskers as she added two more kills for a 19-18 Husker lead. Oregon went in front 22-20 after a 3-0 run, forcing a Husker timeout. Sweet’s 14th kill cut it to 22-21, but Oregon answered with a kill on the next rally. Albrecht went crosscourt to get a sideout, but Oregon earned match point on a kill by Van Sickle. Foecke notched a key kill for the Huskers after a timeout, but the Ducks won 25-23 on another Van Sickle kill.
Up Next: Nebraska will play No. 12 Florida on Saturday at 4 p.m. (CT). The match will be televised on the SEC Network and will have a radio broadcast on Husker Sports Network affiliates and an online audio stream at Huskers.com and on the TuneIn app.