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Huskers Sweep Hawkeyes in 300th Straight Sellout

November 11, 2022

No. 4 Nebraska celebrated its 300th consecutive sellout with a dominant sweep of Iowa on Friday night.

The Huskers took down the Hawkeyes 25-16, 25-17, 25-7 in front of an announced crowd of 8,207 fans at the Devaney Center. The program marked the event with a card stunt and a video during the intermission and had commemorative towels waiting for fans on the seats.

“It’s really hard to imagine because it’s never been done before in women’s sports,” Coach John Cook said. “Football obviously has done it; they’re still a little bit ahead of us …. The two streaks for the two sports at Nebraska, it’s unbelievable. I think what’s great is the team wanted to wear the Tile IX jerseys again tonight, and you think about 50 years ago when Title IX started, and we can say we just sold out 300 straight matches … It’s a heck of a streak. Our fans are great and they love volleyball here.”

Every home match the the five-year career for Nicklin Hames has been a sellout, as have more than a decade-and-a-half’s worth of matches before she ever set foot on campus.

“It’s just truly amazing and it just shows how special this place is, and there’s really no place like Nebraska,” Hames said. “I think the the sellout streak started in 2001; I was 1 year old when it started, so that’s kind of crazy. [Madi Kubik] wasn’t even born yet. So it’s crazy how much tradition and history is in this building and at the Coliseum. I feel really honored to be a part of something so amazing.”

Nebraska hit .305 behind strong performances at either pin with 12 kills on .400 hitting from Madi Kubik and 11 kills on .500 hitting from Whitney Lauenstein. 

“They did a great job tonight and a lot of them, they weren’t the best sets and they make me look great,” setter Nicklin Hames said. “I think Madi put on a clinic tonight. I think she hit literally every shot in the book that you can hit and was unstoppable. It makes my job super easy knowing I have them and that they want to take swings in the big moments. I have a lot of trust in them.”

Hames had 25 assists, nine digs and two aces. Ally Batenhorst came on strong late to finish with right kills on .316 hitting and five blocks.

Freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick did not suit up for the match. Cook said afterward that she’s “day-to-day” and that he didn’t believe she could go 100%, so they sat her for the match. Maggie Mendelson started in her place.

Nebraska held Iowa to minus-.070 hitting, the Huskers’ best defensive performance of the season. Kaitlyn Hord had a match-high seven blocks (one solo) while Lexi Rodriguez led everyone with 17 digs.

“I thought the Huskers did a great job tonight taking care of business and kept playing at a high level,” Cook said. “I thought we got better as the match went on and did a good job. We talk about trying to suffocate teams and I thought we did a good job of that tonight against Iowa.”

Iowa scored first, but Nebraska responded with a 5-0 run and continued to extend its lead the rest of the set as the Hawkeyes had a hard time terminating against Nebraska’s defense. The lead reached its peak at 19-10 on an ace from Kubik, then again at 22-13.

Iowa took advantage of some Nebraska miscues to make a late run, scoring three straight on a service error and back-to-back blocks. Nebraska used a timeout to regroup then scored three straight to close out the set with a kill from Lauenstein, an ace from Kenzie Knuckles and a kill from Kubik.

Nebraska hit .294 behind six kills from Kubik and four from Lauenstein. The Hawkeyes hit .028 after spending much of the set in the negative.

Nebraska used a 4-0 run to take a 6-3 lead early in set two, and the Huskers’ advantage bounced between two and five until Nebraska ripped off seven in a row with Rodriguez at the service line to take a 22-12 lead.

The Hawkeyes put a dent in the league with a. 5-1 run, but a service error gave the Huskers set point and Lindsay Krause capitalized with a kill.

Nebraska hit .265 behind another big set from Lauenstein (five kills) and Kubik (four kills). Iowa hit minus-.061 to drop into the negative for the match.

Nebraska opened the fourth set with a 5-0 run, then scored three straight to take a 10-2 lead. The Huskers continued to roll from there as Maisie Boesiger served a 5-0 run capped by an ace to give the Huskers a 17-6 lead, then Nebraska closed the set on an 8-0 run that included three kills and two block assists from Batenhorst, including one on match point.

“We talked about, especially in the third set, we really needed to finish strong,” Hames said. “They had been going on runs there in the first and second, between like 12 and 16. I think Coach challenged [Batenhorst] and she stepped up and took some huge swings off the block. She kind of shifted the momentum and helped us get through that little patch where we had been struggling tonight. So all props to her and it was a big moment for her, I think.”

Nebraska hit .370 in the third and held Iowa to minus-.194 with just three kills and nine errors. Batenhorst had five kills and three blocks overall in the third set.

“We’ve really been talking about having a sense of urgency every single point and treating every point with importance, and I think during this match we did a really great job of sticking to that and playing Husker volleyball,” Kubik said. “This is a match that we need to keep in the back of our minds for future matches and remember this mindset.”

The Huskers will hit the road this weekend for a rematch with No. 6 Ohio State. The Huskers beat the Buckeyes in five sets during the first week of conference play, Ohio State’s only conference loss thus far. The Buckeyes are tied with Nebraska and Wisconsin atop the Big ten standings.

The Huskers had to play without Hames in that match as Anni Evans and Kennedi Orr split the setting duties, and Hames said she’s excited to get a chance to play in round two.

“Obviously last year we went there and it didn’t go every well, so I’m excited to go back to Ohio State,” Hames said. “But I think we just need to go and play Nebraska volleyball and play a really consistent match. I don’t think we need to be perfect throughout, but just really consistent overall and not have a lot of lulls. But I’m excited, I think our team’s going to go out there and play Nebraska volleyball. The Big Ten’s on the line and we’re going to go for it.”

First serve from Columbus is set for 3:30 p.m. CT on Sunday on Big Ten Network.

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