No. 5 Nebraska got back on track after suffering its first conference loss on Saturday with a sweep over Indiana on Wednesday night at the Devaney Center. Nebraska (15-2, 6-1) beat the Hoosiers (11-7, 2-5) 25-13, 30-28, 25-11.
“I thought we got better tonight,” Coach John Cook said. “We dominated them two games, which was great. We worked through some things tonight; winning that second game was big for us in a lot of ways because we had chances to lose it; we were feeling a lot of pressure because we let a big lead get away. So that was a really good experience and we made some great plays to win that game. I thought the people that struggled tonight worked through it, we made adjustments and they worked through that, so I thought we got better tonight and we’ve got to keep getting better every week in this conference.”
Attendance for Nebraska’s annual Pink Night for breast cancer awareness was 8,243 with many of them sporting pink instead of their traditional red.
“It’s a big deal here, people really support it and it means a lot,” Cook said. “Sometimes I don’t like the Pink Night because it’s different, but I know it’s really, really important and our fans are awesome.”
The Huskers hit .301 thanks to a strong third set and held Indiana to .094. Nebraska out-blocked the Hoosiers 11 to six and finished with seven aces to six errors.
“Our goal for today was ‘attack,’ and so we were attacking form the service line, attacking by hitting, attacking at everything we were doing,” freshman setter Nicklin Hames said. “So our mindset was to attack our serve and get them out of system. I think we did a really good job of that today.”
Sophomore opposite hitter Jazz Sweet finished with 11 kills on .435 hitting and five blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun got off to a hot start, putting down kills on seven of her first 10 swings, but finished with 11 kills on .280 hitting while also chipping in nine digs and four blocks. Senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke added 10 kills and nine digs.
Hames recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 31 assists and 10 digs. Senior libero Kenzie Maloney posted a match-high 11 digs and four aces while freshman middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach had nine blocks and three kills.
Nebraska served up two quick aces (after managing just one in four sets against Minnesota) to jump out to a 5-2 lead in set one lead then stretched the lead out to 10-4 before Indiana took a timeout. Nebraska continued to roll after the break and ripped off a 9-0 run to build a 20-6 lead.
That Huskers got a little sloppy from there but created a big enough lead to finish off the set without the Hoosiers ever truly threatening. After recording seven kills on their first 12 swings without an error, Nebraska put down just one kill with four errors on 11 swings the rest of the way.
Nebraska got off to another great start in the second set, scoring the first three points then using another 3-0 run to pull ahead 11-5. Nebraska stretched its lead out to eight at 17-9 before the Hoosiers staged a furious rally.
Indiana used an 11-3 run to tie the match at 20-all and from there the teams alternated points until Indiana managed to score two straight and take a 26-25 lead. Nebraska responded with two straight, but Indiana answered with two of its own to take the lead again at 28-27. Lexi Sun tied it up one last time and Indiana followed it up with an error to give the Huskers set point and Sweet finished it off with her 10th kill of the match.
“It felt good,” Sweet said about closing out the set. “It definitely was a confidence booster from my last game against Minnesota and definitely a booster for what we’re about to go into, this little stretch right here in this next week-and-a-half. It was definitely good to see us push through and really tight for something right there, so I really enjoyed that and then we definitely carried that into set three.”
Nebraska led 2-0 at the intermission thanks to .078 hitting by the Hoosiers. Nebraska was only hitting .182 through two games.
“We just came in, we talked about the adjustments we needed to make and how we needed to go out,” Hames said. “We kind of slipped up a little bit in game two; we were ahead and we kind of made some dumb errors at the end and let them back in it. So when we came out into game three, new game, new mindset and just go out there and play Nebraska volleyball.”
That’s what the Huskers did in games three as Nebraska, and Sweet in particular, came out firing and jumped out to a 5-0 lead including three kills on three swings by the sophomore southpaw. Nebraska continued to roll, taking a 14-2 lead after back-to-back aces by Maloney and the Huskers cruised from there.
Nebraska hit .593 in the third set, navigating the whole game without a single attack error. Sweet had seven kills on 11 swings and Foecke added five kills on nine attempts in the final frame.
“With Jazz, it’s being in a rhythm with Nicklin. We had her with 23 swings and I think her and Nicklin continue to build that trust and that relationship where Jazz knows where the ball’s going to be, and I thought Nicklin set her better as the night went on.”
Next up for the Huskers is a four-match road trip featuring three top-10 opponents that starts on Saturday at No. 9 Penn State.
“We have to step up. These teams are going to force us to play at another level. so that’s what we have to do. I’m looking forward to the challenge, I’m looking forward to seeing what this team can do," Cook said. "I still think we are a major work in progress for what we can become and I think they do too. I think they realize that we still have a lot of work and improvement to go.”
First serve against the Nittany Lions on BTN is set for 7 p.m.
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.