No. 6 Nebraska earned its first sweep at Jenison Field House on Wednesday night as the Huskers took down Michigan State for the second time this season.
The Huskers (21-3, 13-2 Big Ten) took down the Spartans (14-11, 5-10) 25-20, 25-18, 25-23. Nebraska hit .296 and held Michigan State to .196 while out-blocking the top blocking team in the Big Ten seven to three.
Cook said during his post-match radio interview that the match is always a struggle when the Huskers play in that gym and that the Huskers were a little out of sync early, but he was pleased with how the team played late in games.
Freshman outside hitter Madi Kubik finished with a match-high 16 kills on .306 hitting. She had three errors in the first set but cut that down to one apiece in the last two games. Junior outside hitter Lexi Sun fell just short of a double-double with nine kills, nine digs and four blocks.
Junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins had seven kills on nine swings (.667 hitting) while sophomore middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach chipped in five kills on nine attempts (.444 hitting) and six blocks.
Sophomore setter Nicklin Hames finished with 34 assists, a team-high 13 digs, four kills and an ace. Freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles added 11 digs, six assists and an ace wile sophomore defensive specialist Megan Miller provided a spark off the bench with nine digs, two assists and an ace, earning some post-match praise from her head coach.
Hames opened the match with an ace but 15 straight sideouts followed before Michigan State finally held serve to take a 9-8 lead. Nebraska scored two straight to retake the lead, but Michigan ripped off a 4-0 run to pull ahead 13-10. The deficit bounced between two and four over the next several rallies until Nebraska took control with a 7-0 run featuring Sun at the service line to pull ahead 22-18.
After a Michigan State kill, Nebraska got a kill from Sun and an ace from Knuckles for set point and two rallies later Stivrins closed it out with a kill. Nebraska closed the set on a 10-2 run.
The Huskers hit .222 behind six kills from Kubik while the Spartans hit .211.
Nebraska took a 5-3 lead early in game two behind three more kills from Kubik. Michigan State cut it to one before the Huskers hit the Spartans with a 5-0 run served by Hames to take a 13-7 lead. The Huskers extended their lead to seven a few times, then pushed it to eight at 20-12. Michigan made up a few points but never truly threatened as Stivrins again closed it out again with a kill.
Nebraska hit .353 and held Michigan State to .093. The Huskers had four blocks to Michigan State’s zero in the second set. Kubik and Sun had four kills apiece.
After three ties and a lead change to open the third set, Nebraska got a kill from junior opposite hitter Jaz Sweet and an ace from Miller to pull ahead 5-3. Nebraska stretched its lead to three three times but Michigan State wouldn’t let the Huskers pull away. The Spartans rallied to tie it at 11-11 after an ace by Maggie Midgette, but she missed on her next serve. After a kill by Kubik, Michigan State ripped of five straight to pull ahead 16-13.
Nebraska took four of the next five rallies to tie it up again at 17-17. Maya Gros gave the Spartans the lead with a kill before Nebraska scored three straight — two kills by Sun and one by Kubik — to pull ahead 20-18.
After seven straight sideouts, Michigan State held serve to tie it up once again at 23-23, but Lauryn Gibbs missed long on her second serve to give Nebraska match point and an attack error by Midgette sealed the sweep.
Nebraska hit .345 while Michigan State hit .323 in the third. Kubik led the way with six more kills.
The Huskers will return home for a rematch with Iowa at the Devaney Center on Saturday. The Huskers swept the Hawkeyes in Iowa City last Saturday. First serve is set for 7 p.m. on NET.
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.