LINCOLN, Neb. – The top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team turned in another dominant defensive effort in a 25-17, 25-14, 25-22 sweep of No. 15 Penn State in front of 8,407 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday night.
The win was the Huskers’ 13th straight victory and helped Nebraska remain alone in first place in the Big Ten standings with a 16-1 record. Nebraska is 25-1 overall and has won four straight matches against the Nittany Lions. NU’s defense held Penn State to season lows in kills and attack percentage. The Nittany Lions’ 28 kills were nine fewer than their previous season low, while Penn State’s .065 attack percentage was nearly .100 points worse than its previous low (.164). Five of the nine Nittany Lions who took a swing were held to a .000 or negative attack percentage, as Nebraska tallied nine blocks and 54 digs.
Offensively, it was another balanced night for the Big Red as five Huskers had six or more kills in the three-set victory. Senior Andie Malloy led the way with a match-high 11 kills on .400 hitting, while sophomore Mikaela Foecke totaled 10 kills with a season-high seven digs. Nebraska’s dynamic middle blocking duo of senior Amber Rolfzen and junior Briana Holman also excelled, combining for 14 kills on 23 swings. Both middles hit .500 or above, with Holman producing eight kills on a .615 attack percentage and Rolfzen tallying six kills on a .500 attack percentage. All-America outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen added six kills for Nebraska, which has now won nine consecutive home sets against Penn State (19-9, 11-6 Big Ten) dating back to 2014. Junior setter Kelly Hunter led Nebraska to a .290 attack percentage in the match, while totaling 36 assists and 15 digs to post her sixth double-double of the season. Annika Albrecht added 10 digs and two aces, including one on match point.
Nebraska’s 3-0 victory was its seventh sweep of a ranked opponent this season, while the Huskers improved to 12-1 overall against top-25 foes.
Set 1: A kill and solo block by Foecke on consecutive rallies gave the Huskers their first lead at 6-5. Albrecht produced four early digs, as the Husker back row contributed in a big way to a 9-6 lead after Holman and Foecke posted kills around a Penn State hitting error. Despite just two kills and a .000 hitting percentage, the Nittany Lions came back to tie the set at 10-10. A pair of kills by Malloy, one of which came off of a bump set from Justine Wong-Orantes, put the Huskers back up 13-10. Nebraska continued to feed the left side as Malloy put home her third kill for a 15-12 lead. Hunter struck for a pair of kills to make it 18-14 and force Penn State’s final timeout. Foecke’s fifth kill put to rest a two-point Penn State rally and set off a 6-0 Husker run that gave the Huskers set point at 24-16, with Holman and Malloy also contributing kills. Holman ended the set at 25-17 with her fourth kill. Nebraska dominated the set with a .324 to .026 advantage in hitting percentage. The Husker defense was the difference with a 23-14 edge in digs.
Set 2: The Huskers carried the domination into set two as they took a 5-1 lead with two kills by Holman, one by Kadie Rolfzen, a solo stuff by Malloy and a combo block by Kadie Rolfzen and Holman. The Rolfzen twins teamed up for Nebraska’s third block of the set to make it 7-2. Penn State took its first timeout after Amber Rolfzen made it 9-4 with back-to-back kills. The Huskers continued to pour it on after the timeout, as Foecke and Amber Rolfzen were in on two blocks together, and Albrecht served an ace as the Huskers built a 14-5 lead. The Nittany Lions needed another timeout after NU’s lead ballooned to 20-10. The Huskers closed out a 25-14 win, hitting .250 and holding Penn State to -.065.
Set 3: Nebraska was up 10-7 before Penn State came back to take an 11-10 lead. The Nittany Lions claimed a 13-11 lead, but a kill by Malloy, and a Penn State error followed by a Kadie Rolfzen kill restored a 15-14 Husker advantage. The teams played sideout volleyball for 13 rallies before the Huskers committed a hitting error to give Penn State a 22-21 lead. Trailing by one, Nebraska called its final timeout and responded by winning the final four rallies of the match. After the timeout, Malloy tallied a kill from the left side to even the score at 22-22. Penn State then hit long, and Albrecht dug a ball that led to a Foecke kill for match point. Following a Penn State timeout, Albrecht ended the match with her second ace of the night. Penn State finished with 14 kills in the third set – doubling its total from each of the first two sets – but Nebraska totaled 15 kills and hit .289.
Up Next: The Huskers head to Iowa City to play the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday at 8 p.m.