LINCOLN, Neb. – No. 12 Nebraska knocked off previously undefeated No. 11 UCLA in three sets 25-15, 25-21, 25-20 Friday night at the Devaney Center.
The Bruins (5-1) entered the match with a perfect record, dropping just two sets overall.
Coach John Cook was pleased with the Huskers’ (4-2) performance, which picked up its first win against a ranked opponent this season.
“I thought our team competed really well point-by-point tonight,” Cook said. “We got through the parts we struggled—a couple errors we made—and we just kept going on to the next point. I think that allowed us to be a pretty consistent team tonight.”
Junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke and senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht led the way for the Huskers, each posting a double-double. Foecke had a match-high 13 kills and added 13 digs. Albrecht recorded 12 kills and 15 digs.
Albrecht credited her teammates and coaches for her success in the match.
“I heard Kenzie [Maloney] behind me. She was calling some of the shots,” Albrecht said. “I love it when my teammates call shots, cause it just gives you all the more confidence. This week Tyler [Hildebrand] was helping me move the ball around a little bit, and that helped.”
Cook said senior setter Kelly Hunter has a good understanding of where to place the ball for Albrecht, giving her more confidence when she swings.
Albrecht is in a new all-around position this season, one that Foecke said Albrecht earned from hard work in practice.
“She definitely deserves it and I think it’s real exciting. It’s a great opportunity for her and our team,” Foecke said.
Albrecht entered Friday’s match hitting just under .100 with 24 errors. She turned things around in the match, finishing with a match-high .400 hitting percentage.
“We work on mindfulness a lot in the locker room,” Albrecht said. “Just focusing on the ‘right here’ and ‘now.’ It always comes back to our team. We have such good team chemistry. After you make an error, it doesn’t really feel like an error because you’ve got five girls staring you in the eyes saying ‘you’ve got the next one.’”
“Whatever the situation you can always count on someone to be there for you, just pick you up.”
The Huskers performed well defensively, too, holding the Bruins to a season-low .097 hitting percentage.
Cook said Nebraska’s blocking defense was “pretty good.”
Although the Huskers finished with just five blocks, Cook said it helped that his blockers were at least touching the ball.
Nebraska faces a rare challenge as it will take on the same opponent twice in the same weekend. The second match against UCLA will be played Saturday at 7 p.m.
Albrecht compared the situation to facing two top Big Ten opponents during the conference season.
“It feels like a normal Big Ten weekend where you are playing two great teams in a row,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht added the Huskers must reset, as both teams will likely change their approach.
“They’re going to change some things, so we’re going to change some things.” Albrecht said. “Just be ready to play a brand new team. Who knows what they’re going to do out there. So we just got to be ready to adjust and come out there and play harder than we did tonight.”
Cook said the team will watch the tape from the first match, but the focus will be on how Nebraska can get better on its own side.
Cody is a senior journalism major at UNL. He grew up in Fairview, SD, a town of less than 70 people. Cody has covered a variety of Husker athletics, ranging from bowling to football. He has a passion for sports and an interest in telling stories and has developed a knack for sports data and looking deeper into statistics. He’s a fan of all Colorado sports teams. Cody and his fiancée Kaitlyn are engaged to be married in July 2018.