No. 10 Nebraska made short work of Rutgers on Sunday afternoon, serving the Scarlet Knights off the court in a sweep.
The Huskers (12-3, 6-0 Big Ten) overcame a slow start to take down the Scarlet Knights (8-9, 0-6) 25-19, 25-9, 25-12 at the RAC. Nebraska recorded 10 aces with just four errors. Rutgers finished with one ace and seven errors.
“I thought we got off to a little of a slow start,” Coach John Cook said during his post-match radio interview. “I think we had nine attack errors in the first game, so that’s not a great start. But as the match went on, we got better and I just thought our serving just dictated the whole match. We’re feeling good about our serving; this weekend on the road we really attacked with our serve which really helps our block and defense. I thought we managed Beka [Kojadinovic], No. 1, who chewed us up the last couple of years; we held her to a negative, so I thought your block and defense did a nice job.”
The Huskers hit .255 and held Rutgers to .042, out-digging the Scarlet Knights 54 to 38 and out-blocking them seven to four. Lexi Rodriguez led the defensive effort with 17 digs, four assists and two aces. Kenzie Knuckles finished with a match-high three aces. Nicklin Hames stuffed the stat sheet with 30 assists, eight digs, three blocks, two kills and an ace.
Madi Kubik led the Huskers again with 11 kills on .280 hitting and nine digs. Lindsay Krause added nine kills on .421 hitting. Krause has now hit .300 or better in five of her first six Big Ten matches.
“She’s putting up good numbers,” Cook said about Krause. “She’s managing really well. She’s blocking really well. We’ve got to have somebody be really good in that spot, so that’s a pretty good weekend for her on the road. Penn State as we know is a tough place to play, but Rutgers is a tough place to play to just because it’s a little different, it was a Sunday afternoon match and you just sit around in the hotel.”
Callie Schwarzenbach, who started in place of Kayla Caffey, finished with five kills on .444 hitting and three blocks. Cook said Caffey had been feeling under the weather all week so they decided not to play her, though she did test negative for COVID-19.
Nebraska jumped out to a 6-2 lead early thanks to a good start from Krause. The lead bounced between four and two until Kubik’s fourth kill pushed it to five at 16-11. Then the Scarlet Knights used a 5-1 run including three straight points to cut the deficit to one.
The Huskers regrouped during a timeout and stretched the lead back to five with a 3-0 run capped by an ace from Hames. Rutgers got two points back, but Nebraska closed out the set with three straight — a kill by Krause and back-to-back aces by Knuckles.
Nebraska hit just .114 in the first set with nine errors but had five aces. Rutgers hit .185.
The Huskers used a 4-0 run capped by another ace — this one from Rodriguez — to take a 6-2 lead again to start the second set. Nebraska blew the game wide open after that with a 5-0 run featuring Kubik at the service line. She capped the run with an ace on an out-of-rotation call on Rutgers, Nebraska’s seventh of the match.
Nebraska continued to dominate the rest of the way with runs of 4-0, 3-0 and 4-0, the last of which closed out the set. Stivrins and Kubik teamed up for a block on set point to seal the 2-0 lead at the intermission.
Nebraska cut down on the errors with just three in the second set and hit .216. The Huskers served four more aces and held Rutgers to minus-.114 hitting with eight errors. Lexi Sun checked in for Batenhorst midway through the set with the freshman hitting .000. Whitney Lauenstein also checked in at opposite hitter for the final nine rallies and recorded a pair of kills.
Sun started the third set. Nebraska scored four of the first five points, then pulled ahead 8-4, then 12-6. Rutgers strung together a couple of points, but the Huskers rolled through the rest of the set after that, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to pull ahead 22-10. Thy traded sideouts from there until Knuckles broke the streak with a kill from the back row on match point.
Nebraska hit .467 and held the the Scarlet Knights to .088 in the third.
Nebraska will be back at home next week for a pair of matches. They’ll host Indiana on Wednesday and Illinois on Saturday.
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.