OMAHA, Neb. – The 10th-ranked Nebraska volleyball team started the Omaha Challenge with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-16) win over Kansas State at Baxter Arena on Friday.
The Huskers (6-2) used a strong defensive performance to roll to their sixth straight sweep. NU had a 51-29 advantage in digs and outblocked the Wildcats, 9-4. After Kansas State got off to a strong start with four of the first five blocks in the match, the Huskers recorded the final eight blocks of the match.
Lauren Stivrins had career highs of 10 kills and six blocks for the Huskers. Her middle partner, Briana Holman, had 10 kills and three blocks. Both middle blockers hit .500 on the night. Mikaela Foecke and Jazz Sweet both had nine blocks with Sweet adding four blocks. Annika Albrecht had six kills and 15 digs.
Kenzie Maloney led the Husker back row with 16 digs. Kelly Hunter had 37 assists and 11 digs for her second straight double-double.
The Huskers hit .323 for the match and held Kansas State (5-6) to .101.
Set 1: Kansas State claimed the upper hand early with an 11-8 lead thanks to six kills on 12 error-free attacks and three blocks. Foecke and Holman struck for back-to-back kills, and KSU hit long to even the set at 12-12. After another kill by Holman and a Wildcat hitting error, the Huskers had reclaimed a 14-13 lead, their first since 6-5. With the scored tied 15-15, Sweet terminated from the right side, Hunter set Foecke for a massive back-row kill, and Sydney Townsend followed with an ace serve for an 18-15 lead. The Huskers went up 20-16 on a block by Hunter and Stivrins. The Wildcats scored four straight points to tie the set at 21-21 before serving long. Holman made it 23-21 with her fourth kill of the set, and a kill by Sweet and KSU hitting error ended the set in Nebraska’s favor, 25-22. The strong play of the Husker back row helped NU to a 16-11 edge in digs in the set.
Set 2: Foecke tallied three early kills to put the Huskers in front, 5-2. But the Wildcats responded out of a timeout with a 3-0 run to even the score. Sweet and Albrecht connected from the left side to put NU back in front, 7-5, and the Big Red dominated the set from there. Stivrins strung together a kill and a block with Albrecht on consecutive plays to make it 10-6 Huskers. Stivrins continued her impressive performance in set two with two more kills and a block with Foecke to spark a 12-2 run that put NU in control, 19-8. Albrecht served six points in the run. The Huskers finished off a resounding 25-11 win with Stivrins recording five kills and three blocks in the set, as the Huskers hit .467 and had a 4-0 edge in blocks. NU held Kansas State to .029 hitting in set two.
Set 3: Kansas State fought back in set three to take an 8-4 lead. Sweet notched a kill to get the Huskers sideout, and a block by Stivrins and Sweet and a KSU error cut it to 8-7. A kill by Hunter, followed by an ace and kill by Albrecht put the Big Red back in front, 11-10. The Huskers went up by two on a block by Holman and Sweet. The Huskers turned up their floor defense, resulting in a pair of kills by Holman and Sweet for an 18-14 advantage. NU’s run ballooned to 6-0 for a 21-14 lead after three straight KSU errors, one of which was a block by Holman and Sweet. Stivrins pounded set point for the Big Red at 24-16, and she finished off the match with her 10th kill of the night.
Up Next: Nebraska will play two matches on Saturday at Baxter Arena. The Huskers face Northern Iowa at Noon and UNO at 7:30 p.m.