No. 3 Nebraska made short work of No. 12 Purdue on Wednesday, recording its fifth straight sweep.
The Cornhuskers (17-1, 9-0 Big Ten) took down the Boilermakers 25-21, 25-20, 25-18 at Holloway Gymnasium to hand Purdue (15-4, 6-3) its second straight loss.
“Any win at Purdue on the road is a good win,” Coach John Cook said during his post-match radio interview. “It’s a tough gym to play in and I thought our team just played steady enough to win. We made enough plays to win. It wasn’t always pretty. We gave up some big runs, and just kind of off plays where we just let easy balls hit, but our serving really put Purdue in trouble and they never really gotten a rhythm tonight attacking at all.”
Freshman Bekka Allick paced the Nebraska attack with a new career high as the Huskers hit .295. Allick finished with 12 kills on .611 hitting and four blocks. Allick credited her setters for her success.
“They put the ball right where I needed it, and if there was an error, they were giving it right back,” Allick said on Big Ten Network after the match. “It was just full trust in each other.”
Nicklin Hames led Nebraska with 21 assists and six digs while Anni Evans added 16 assists off the bench.
“I thought our setter played great tonight,” Cook said. “Nicklin missed a couple sets, Anni missed a couple, but overall they put up some great balls tonight. We hit .295 here; last year we hit .200 for example … Only 13 errors in a three-game match, that’s pretty good.”
Madi Kubik added nine kills on .304 hitting and tied Lexi Rodriguez for the team lead with nine digs. Kaitlyn Hord made the most of her opportunities in the middle with five kills on eight errorless swings. Whitney Lauenstein matched Allick with four blocks and led the Huskers with two aces, but she finished with just five kills on .059 hitting.
Purdue hit .140 as Nebraska held the Big Ten’s kills leader, freshman Eva Hudson, to seven kills on minus-.086 hitting.
The first set was tight throughout as neither team managed to string together more than two consecutive points until the Huskers ripped off a 4-0 run midway through the set to take a 15-12 lead.
After trading sideouts for a stretch, Purdue scored two in a row to cut Nebraska’s lead down to one. Nebraska regrouped during a timeout then put together a 6-2 including three kills from Allick to earn set point. Purdue fended off Nebraska twice, but Ally Batenhorst found the ground for a kill on Nebraska’s third attempt to seal the four-point win.
Nebraska out-hit Purdue .364 to .167 behind five kills on seven errorless swings from Allick. The Huskers only recorded one block but still held Hudson to three kills and three errors. The first set included 12 ties and six lead changes and Nebraska overcome five service errors to win.
Purdue delivered the first blow in the second set with a 3-0 run for a 7-4 lead, but Nebraska responded by winning nine of the next 11 rallies including five in a row with Hames serving. The run gave Nebraska a 13-9 lead, and the Huskers continued to control the action from there.
Nebraska took its largest lead yet at 20-12 thanks to a 6-1 run. Purdue pushed back with three straight to make it 20-15, then pulled within three at 23-20. However, an errant attack from Hudson gave Nebraska set point and Allick clipped the sideline for her 10th kill of the night, setting a new career high.
Nebraska hit .300 behind five more kills on six swings from Allick.
“Our game plan was was to set the middle tonight and anytime in the middle of court we were one-on-one, basically the only people that stopped our middles tonight were our setters,” Cook said.
Batenhorst added four kills on eight attempts. Purdue hit .216 and pulled even with Nebraska in service errors at seven apiece.
Nebraska won eight of the first nine rallies with Lauenstein accounting for four of the points herself with a pair of kills, a block assist and the first ace of the evening. The Huskers gave a few points back with three straight attack errors, but a 3-0 Husker run boosted the lead back to eight at 15-7.
Nebraska cruised throughout the set, building the lead up to 10 at 23-13. The Boilermakers tried to muster a comeback, putting together a 5-1 run to cut their deficit to four, but Megan Renner served into the net to end it.
Nebraska held Purdue to .029 hitting in the third set as five of the eight Boilermaker attack errors were Nebraska blocks. Nebraska hit .219 behind four kills on seven swings from Kubik.
“I still think we haven’t even hit our peak yet, and I hope we haven’t hit our peak yet,” Allick said. “So I think that it just shows that we’ve got a lot to work on but we can also find a lot of success amongst the errors.”
Nebraska will ride a 16-set winning streak heading to Champaign on Saturday to take on the Illini. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.