Lindsay Krause picked up where she left off on Wednesday night and No. 12 Nebraska took down Iowa 3-0 at the Devaney Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) swept the Hawkeyes (2-10, 0-2) 25-17, 26-24, 25-21 as Krause hit .500 for the second straight match, finishing with 12 kills. Nebraska out-hit Iowa .267 to .216, though the Hawkeyes hit .303 in the last two sets after a strong defensive start from Nebraska.
“I thought Iowa competed really hard tonight,” Coach John Cook said. “We came out really sharp, and then I thought we kind of let up a little bit and got a little sloppy. We just let Iowa hang around a little bit and we could have done a better job of making some adjustments and not letting some easy balls hit.”
Madi Kubik led the Huskers with 15 kills on .189 hitting and 14 digs, her first double-double of the season. Ally Batenhorst chipped in six kills on .333 hitting.
Nicklin Hames had 40 assists, six digs, two kills and two aces. Lexi Rodriguez added 10 digs.
“I thought our outsides, all of them, did a fantastic job tonight of managing out-of-system and in-system and mixing up their shots,” Cook said. “I though Nicklin set really well tonight; she did a great job tonight, especially when the passes weren’t there. I thought our passing broke down a little bit. Iowa is a very good serving team; they have the highest numbers we’ve played so far of any serving team. They broke us down a little bit but we still managed to find ways to get kills, which is good news.
“But if we can get Nicklin the ball we could run more middle and have a little more diversified attack.”
Iowa star opposite hitter Courtney Buzzer led the Hawkeyes with 13 kills, but Nebraska held her to .162 hitting. Outside hitter Addie VanderWeide added 12 kills on .304 hitting.
Fresh off her best match as a Husker on Wednesday, Krause got the party started with Nebraska’s first kill. Nebraska used a 5-0 run served by Kubik to pull ahead 8-2 early, then another 5-0 run by the Huskers, this time with Kubik at the service line, pushed Nebraska’s lead to 14-5. Callie Schwarzenbach capped the run with a solo stuff.
Iowa got as close as five at one point, but the Huskers kept them at bay and cruised to an eight-point win. Nebraska hit .265 behind five kills on nine errorless swings for Krause. The Huskers held Iowa to .029 hitting as star opposite hitter Courtney Buzzerio had just three kills and four errors.
The second set proved to be much more competitive as neither side managed to create more than two points of separation until two straight by the Huskers gave them a 20-17 advantage. Aided by a couple Nebraska mistakes, however, Iowa rallied to tie it up at 23-all.
An Iowa service error gave the Huskers set point, but the Hawkeyes tied it up with a kill. Kubik fired back with a kill of her own, and then Nebraska ran out of subs as Knuckles got stuck playing in the front row. She nearly ended it with a kill, but the Hawkeyes dug the ball and sent it back over the net. Her big swing allowed the Huskers to get in system, though, allowing Hames to take matters into her own hands and dump the ball for a kill to seal it.
“That fires us up even more, because they’re like, ‘we’re going to prove it now,’ so it’s actually a good thing, not a like, ‘Oh, gosh, Kenzie’s in the front row,’” Cook said. “But I’m so glad we set her, because she’ll kill it, and she’ll find a way. So that was fun. And again, great effort by our team and I think our belief level is going up. A couple of weeks ago we were losing those games.”
Nebraska hit .250 in the second set with four kills apiece from Kubik and Krause. The Hawkeyes hit .310, but the Huskers had a four-point advantage from the service line thanks to four service errors by Iowa.
Iowa used a 3-0 run to take an early lead in set three and they held onto it for a while. Cook sent Lexi Sun in with the Huskers trailing 3-2, and he subbed Kalynn Meyer in as well with Iowa leading 5-3. Sun got a nice ovation from the crowd when she checked in and converted her first swing for a kill, triggering a “You got Sunburnt!” chant.
Iowa maintained the lead until an 8-2 stretch put the Huskers in front 15-12. They pushed that lead to four at 17-13, but the Hawkeyes rallied to within one at 21-20. The Kubik took over with three straight kills to give Nebraska a handful of set points. Iowa saved one but then missed on the ensuing serve to seal it.
“[It’s] just trusting that we that we needed to perform in those tight moments and trusting each other that we’re going to do what we needed to do to get it done on those plays,” Kubik said. “So just developing that muscle and the resilience that even when it’s tight tough, we practice that a lot in practice, replicating clutch points, so just trusting that.”
Iowa narrowly out-hit Nebraska .294 to .289, but the Huskers had four more kills and were plus-three from the service line (two aces, one error for Nebraska compared to one ace, two errors for Iowa). Sun added three kills on eight errorless swings plus an ace.
Nebraska will continue its home stand next week as the Michigan teams visit Lincoln. Nebraska will host Michigan on Friday night at 6:30 CT, then Michigan State will swing through for a Sunday afternoon showdown.
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.