For Coach John Cook and the Nebraska volleyball team, the game plan heading into Saturday’s match against Indiana was to focus on playing their own side of the net, rather than worrying about what the Hoosiers might do with their lineup.
That strategy worked as No. 7 Nebraska (20-4, 13-1) swept unranked Indiana (12-14, 1-13) 25-8, 25-14, 25-13 inside the Devaney Center. The Huskers’ win was their 13th sweep of the season.
“I think we started the match really strong,” junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke said. “We just kinda came out on fire and willed it on them. Showed them that this is Nebraska volleyball and they’re in our house.”
Nebraska made quick work of the first set, jumping out to an 11-3 lead.
Indiana recorded its first kill of the match 16 points in, while the Huskers still led 12-4.
The Hoosiers finished the first set with a -.087 hitting percentage, while Nebraska hit an impressive .667. Indiana did not hit a positive percentage in any of the three sets.
Five of Foecke’s match-high 14 kills came in the first set. She hit a perfect 1.000 in the set as well. In comparison, Indiana finished the match with a combined 14 kills as a team.
After a dominant first set as a team, Nebraska kept its pace, knowing the match was far from over.
“You just have to know that on any given night a team can get beat,” Foecke said. “There’s more sets to be played and more points left. You have to keep getting after it.”
Three of Indiana’s eight points in the first set came off of service errors by Nebraska, a hit-and-miss issue throughout the game.
Nebraska finished the match with 11 service errors, its highest in a three-set match this season. The Huskers had 11 service errors against No. 11 Wisconsin in mid-October, a match Nebraska lost 3-1.
The Huskers’ season high for service errors in a match, 13, came against No. 12 Florida early in the season. Nebraska also lost that match, but in five sets.
Against the Hoosiers Saturday night, when the Huskers hit their mark on serves, they were successful, recording nine aces, making up for the high number of errors.
Senior defensive specialist Sydney Townsend said the team knew they had to “thump” their serves against Indiana.
Foecke added that when the team is serving well, it gives her more confidence personally.
Nebraska’s serves got better as the game went on, recording two aces in both the first and second set, before racking up five in the third set alone.
Townsend said the team has done a good job this season of moving onto the next play after an error, shaking it off rather than letting it get to individuals mentally.
“When we come into the middle, we all take a deep breath and we kind of just shake it off and forget,” Townsend said. “I’ve never really been on a team that does that before.”
When asked if he shared the same opinion, Cook said, “No question.”
“They’ve done a great job of that,” Cook said. “Staying in the moment, point by point. They’ve done an exceptional job on that.”
Townsend said that will be an important factor as the end of the regular season approaches.
Nebraska continues its stretch of home matches Wednesday against Maryland at 6 p.m.