No. 5 Nebraska (25-4, 18-1) won its 12th straight match and moved one step closer to clinching its second straight Big Ten title with a sweep at Northwestern on Wednesday night.
Scores in Nebraska’s favor were 25-13, 25-20 and 25-21.
After getting it done all season with their defense, the Huskers hit over .300 in their sixth straight game against the Wildcats, finishing at .341. Nebraska served up seven aces to just one for Northwestern and and out-blocked the ‘Cats eight to three.
Senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht led the Huskers with 10 kills, seven digs, four assists, three blocks and an ace. Nebraska’s middle blockers, redshirt freshman Lauren Stivrins and senior Briana Holman, combined for 15 kills on 21 swings.
Senior setter Kelly Hunter finished with 32 assists, seven digs and four kills while junior libero Kenzie Maloney and senior defensive specialist Sydney Townsend tied for team-high honors with eight digs apiece.
Nebraska and Northwestern took turns early on, setting up a 5-5 tie. However, the Huskers took control with a 5-0 run that extended into a 14-4 run. From there, Nebraska cruised to an easy first set victory.
Northwestern took an early lead in the second set, but Nebraska responded with a 5-1 run that put them up 10-7. Northwestern made a push to pull within one at 16-15, but Nebraska responded with an 8-3 run to earn a handful of set points, and on the third try the Huskers finished it off with a kill by junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke.
The third set mirrored the second as Northwestern took the first shot but Nebraska countered with a 5-0 run to take a 7-4 lead. A 3-0 Nebraska run gave the Huskers their biggest lead of the set at 11-6 but Northwestern reeled of three straight themselves to prevent Nebraska from pulling away. The Wildcats pulled back within one a couple of times but an ace by Townsend gave the Huskers a 20-16 lead. The teams traded points a few times and Nebraska completed the sweep with a kill on match point by Foecke.
The win wraps up a 3-0 road trip for the Huskers and Nebraska will return home to close out the regular season Saturday against Iowa (18-17, 7-12). First serve at the Devaney Center is set for 7 p.m. with Senior Night ceremonies to follow.
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.