No. 6 Nebraska picked up its fifth straight win and seventh of the reason over a ranked opponent with a four-set win at No. 12 Purdue on Friday night.
The Huskers (21-6, 12-5) took down the Boilermakers (21-7, 10-7) 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 25-17 in front of 2,415 fans at Holloway Gymnasium. Hitting percentages were nearly identical (.209 for Nebraska, .208 for Purdue) but the Huskers dominated at the service line to pull out the four-set victory. The Huskers served up 11 aces with five errors while the Boilermakers misfired 11 times and only put one down for an ace.
The Boilermakers held Nebraska star outside hitter Mikaela Foecke to 10 kills on .158 hitting (plus 11 digs and two aces) but Nebraska’s other outside hitter, sophomore Lexi Sun, and its middle blockers picked up the slack.
Sun led the Huskers with 13 kills, 11 blocks and three aces. Sophomore Lauren Stivrins had 10 kills on .286 hitting, five digs, four blocks and an ace while freshman Callie Schwarzenbach added eight kills on .353 hitting and four blocks.
Freshman setter Neckline Hames had another double-double with 45 assists, 13 digs and three aces while senior libber Kenzie Maloney posted 20 digs and two aces.
Nebraska used a 5-0 run early in the first set to take an 8-4 lead then stretched it out to six at 13-7 before the Boilermakers came storming back. A 5-0 Purdue run flipped the game around and put the Boilermakers ahead 17-15. Nebraska tied it up at 18-all then ripped off a 6-0 run to take control and give itself plenty of cracks at set point at 24-19. Purdue saved three of those points, spurring Coach John Cook to burn a timeout, and Sun came out of the break and ended it with a kill.
Purdue out-hit Nebraska .265 to .226, notching one more kill and one less error than the Huskers, but Nebraska was plus-five at the service line with three aces without an error for the Huskers and two errors without an ace for the Boilermakers.
The first 28 points of the second set feature 14 ties as neither team managed to pull ahead by more than one. Nebraska finally managed to bring together two points to pull ahead 16-14, but Purdue answered with two straight. Ties at 17-17 and 18-18 followed before Nebraska used a 5-0 run to take control at 23-18 and the Huskers finished it off to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Nebraska hit .316 in the second set, committing just three attack errors.
Purdue broke a 4-4 tie with a 3-0 run early in the third set and the Huskers played from behind the rest of the way. Another 3-0 run boosted the Purdue lead to five at 11-6. The Huskers pulled within two a couple of times before the Boilermakers stretched it back out to five at 20-15. A 5-1 Nebraska answer cut it to one, but the Huskers just couldn’t get over the hump. Leading 23-22, Purdue scored the final two points to send the match to a fourth game.
Purdue out-hit the Huskers .273 to .122 in set three, committing just two attack errors while forcing nine from the Huskers.
The Huskers used a 5-0 run early in the fourth set to take a 6-2 lead. Purdue pulled within two a couple of times but that would be as close as the Boilermakers would get as the Huskers put together an 11-3 run to double Purdue up at 20-10 before cruising to the finish line.
Nebraska’s defense stepped up in the fourth set to hold Purdue to .030 hitting (nine kills, eight errors).
Nebraska will wrap up its final road trip of the regular season on Saturday as the Huskers will swing through Bloomington, Indiana for a 6 p.m. start against Indiana.
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.