Trailing two sets to none against No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 8 Nebraska went to the locker room needing to find a spark to ignite a comeback inside the Devaney Center Saturday night.
Junior outside hitter Michaela Foecke said the team realized it didn’t have much else to lose.
“We might as well just give it all we got and go out there swinging away,” Foecke said after the match. “Just play with a lot of confidence, almost to the point where you’re almost a little bit cocky. Just try to fake it ‘til you make it.”
The adjustment in Nebraska’s mindset worked as the Huskers rallied to win the final three sets and the match, 22-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-8.
Nebraska’s victory was its third against a top-10 team in the past eight days. It’s the first time in the program’s history that it has accomplished that feat during the regular season.
“I’d like to know any team that’s done that in any sport,” Nebraska coach John Cook said after the match.
After alternating points at the start of the first set, Wisconsin (11-2, 2-2) built a commanding 17-10 lead. The Huskers (11-3, 4-0) rallied and narrowed the deficit to just one behind four consecutive kills from senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht, who finished with eight in the set.
Nebraska’s rally came up short, as Wisconsin won 25-22.
Wisconsin took an early lead in the second set before Nebraska tied the score 10-10. The Badgers pulled away from there and didn’t look back, winning 25-17.
The Huskers were held to a hitting percentage of just .071, while the Badgers hit .250. Albrecht had just one kill in the set.
Foecke said after the match that Nebraska was struggling with its confidence in the first two sets, which led to subpar play in all aspects.
Cook said his team had “no pop” in the first two sets.
“It was like we were in slow motion,” he said.
The Huskers looked like a completely different—and more confident—team in the final three sets following their intermission adjustments.
Nebraska had a strong start to the third set as senior Sydney Townsend served back-to-back aces, which were the Huskers' first two in the match.
Cook said Townsend played the “best match of her life” Saturday night. “She really carried us tonight emotionally,” he said.
Townsend finished with a match high 17 digs.
Nebraska led throughout the third set, eventually winning 25-20. The Badgers faced set point at 24-15 before scoring five in a row. An attack error by Wisconsin sealed the set victory for the Huskers.
The fourth set was nothing short of the typical action-packed volleyball seen throughout the Big Ten.
In a set that had 11 ties and three lead changes, the Huskers continued their comeback with a 25-23 win.
Nebraska carried its momentum into the fifth and final set, pulling away late to win 15-8.
Foecke said she felt a little sense of relief when the Huskers scored the game-winning point, after trailing two sets to none, but added it came down to “ultimate trust.”
“We definitely played with each other and for each other,” Foecke said. “I think in the fifth set, when (we) saw it was 15-8, it was just because we were all playing as one unit and just playing for each other.”
Albrecht led Nebraska in kills with 18; followed by Foecke with 15 and senior middle blocker Briana Holman with 13.
Wisconsin finished the match with six aces, but also had 14 serving errors.
As a team, the Huskers hit .193, while the Badgers hit a nearly identical .194.
Nebraska will play its third straight home match and third straight against a ranked opponent Wednesday when it faces No. 16 Michigan State.