No. 5 Nebraska improved to 6-0 away from home with a sweep at Maryland on Saturday night.
The Huskers (15-2, 7-1 Big Ten) took down the Terrapins (11-9, 3-5) 25-19, 25-16, 25-13 in front of a record Maryland crowd of 2,225 at the XFINITY Center Pavilion. The previous record at the Pavilion was 1,848 set against Wisconsin on Nov. 17, 2018.
Maryland snapped Nebraska’s streak of holding opponents under .100 hitting thanks to a hot first set, but the Nebraska defense settled down in the last two games and held Maryland to .143 overall. The Huskers also started hot, only they never cooled down, finishing with a .337 hitting percentage. Five Huskers hit .333 or better and Nebraska had four aces by four different players.
“It’s the ‘With each other, for each other’ starting to happen,” Coach John Cook said during his post-game radio appearance on the Husker Sports Network.
Junior outside hitter Lexi Sun hit .400 for the second time in her last three matches, leading the Huskers with 12 kills. Freshman outside hitter Madi Kubik followed up her career-best performance against Purdue with another strong outing, nothing 10 kills on .333 hitting and eight digs.
“All I can say is Nicklin [Hames] puts those guys in great spots,” Cook said about hit outside hitter production. “She’s setting the left sides really well right now. They can go up and hit anything they want.”
Hames, the sophomore setter, had 27 assists, nine digs, three kills on four attempts and one ace. Freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles posted a match-high 11 digs, her fifth match in double figures. She’s fallen short of reaching that mark just twice in 16 matches.
After six ties to open the match, Nebraska put together a 4-0 run served by Sun to take a 10-6 lead. The Terrapins battled back to make it a one-point game four times, the last coming at 15-14. Nebraska blew the game wide open from that point, however, ripping off a 9-2 run to earn set point. Maryland didn’t go down easy, scoring three in a row to put a bit of pressure back on the Huskers, but junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins finished it off with a kill.
Nebraska only recorded one block as Maryland hit .294 with 13 kills and three errors, but the Huskers one-upped the Terps with 16 kills and just three errors (.361 hitting). Sophomore middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach led the Huskers with five kills on seven swings.
“Her grandfather’s here, so maybe that was the difference,” Cook said. “Callie’s been working really hard. She’s been putting in extra time and she’s really determined to be a great player.”
Maryland took a 5-4 lead early in set two but Nebraska responded with a 4-0 run served by sophomore defensive specialist Megan Miller. Nebraska extended its lead to 12-7 with a 3-0 run before Maryland scored three in a row pull within two.
Nebraska dominated the rest of the way, however, winning 13 of the final 19 rallies to take a 2-0 match lead at the intermission. Nebraska held Maryland to seven kills and .031 hitting while hitting .258 itself. Kubik led the Huskers with five kills in the set.
Nebraska opened game three with a 7-1 run and Maryland got no closer than five the rest of the way. A 3-0 Terrapin run cut Nebraska’s lead to 13-8 but the Huskers responded with a 10-3 run to blow the game wide open. Maryland scored a couple more points before the Huskers closed it out with a kill by Stivrins on the slide.
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) October 20, 2019
Nebraska hit .400 in the third set and held Maryland to .080. The Huskers had four of their seven blocks and three aces in game three.
The Huskers will have plenty of training time this week before they hit the road again next weekend for matches at Indiana and Purdue.
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.