A mid-match lineup change sparked a big last two sets for Lindsay Krause as Nebraska swept Indiana at the Devaney Center on Wednesday night.
The Huskers beat the Hoosiers 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 in a match that saw its first serve at 8:05 p.m. Krause followed up a strong showing against Maryland with a season-high .471 hitting percentage, finishing with eight kills plus two blocks (one solo).
“I talked to our team about how hard Indiana would play and some of the things that they would do that we’re not used to seeing,” Coach John Cook said. “They rip jump serves, they have some other very good servers, they take big swings. I told them it’s like men’s volleyball, they’re going to take big swings, and they’re ripping jump servers. Their setter is hard to defend and she did a really nice job tonight.
“So they made us look bad at times and I thought we struggled at times, but we kind of hung in there and made some good adjustments and picked up our level and played pretty well at the end games.”
Nebraska (20-2, 12-1 Big Ten) hit .205 as a team and committed three serve receive errors against Indiana’s aggressive serving. Madi Kubik led Nebraska with nine kills but hit just .136. Whitney Lauenstein matched Krause with eight kills on .333 hitting and tied for the team lead with three block assists.
Nicklin Hames led Nebraska with 20 assists and eight digs while Anni Evans added 11 assists and five digs off the bench.
Lexi Rodriguez led Nebraska with 10 digs as the Huskers out-dug the Hoosiers by nine. Indiana (13-12, 6-7) hit .124 and committed 13 service errors.
“When you play at 8 o’clock, that’s a long day you’re sitting around,” Cook said. “Both teams were high-error, and I just felt like we never got into a great rhythm tonight. We did some really nice things, but we never got a great rhythm. They go for it, they’re going to swing. Sometimes they’re going to error and they’re going to jump serve and hit balls hard and they’re going to error some. So it’s a high-risk, high-reward type of thing.”
Nebraska fell behind 6-3 thanks to an error-filled start to the match. Indiana maintained its advantage until the Huskers settled in enough to string together a 5-1 run and take a 13-11 lead.
Indiana tied it up again seven times until a Hoosier attack error snapped a streak of 11 straight sideouts and gave Nebraska a 22-20 lead. Four more sideouts followed until Kaitlyn Hord and Lauenstein teamed up for a block on set point to give Nebraska a 1-0 lead.
Kubik led the offense with four kills as the Huskers hit just .103. Indiana hit .070. The teams combined for 10 service errors with six of them (and the set’s only ace) belonging to the Hoosiers.
Nebraska controlled the action early in set two, using a 5-1 run to stretch a two-point advantage into a 9-3 lead. The Cornhuskers continued to find the floor as Indiana didn’t record its first dig — a pancake — until Nebraska’s 12th swing, but the Huskers fired right back with a kill from Krause to win the point and make it 13-8 Huskers.
Cook changed up his rotation in set two, inserting Maggie Mendelson as the second opposite hitter and sliding Krause from right to left. Ally Batenhorst struggled in the first set with one kill and two errors on eight swings.
“Ally was really struggling,” Cook said. “We practiced that lineup, we ran it last week.She really struggled that first game. So I just thought we’d make a change. Maggie’s been practicing great, and so we can make that change pretty easily. Krause, that shows you what a great player she is. She can flip from one side the other and it doesn’t faze her.”
Krause has been switching back and forth between opposite hitter — which she played last season — and outside hitter — which she played in high school. On Wednesday, she played both.
“I try to be the same player, but I think the left side comes so natural to me, because that’s what I’ve played since I was like 15,” Krause said. “But I have really just tried to emphasize whatever is best for our team in the moment. That’s the position I’ll be playing and sometimes that changes. I’m a little bit more comfortable on the left, but I feel like I’m bringing the same energy and I’m the same teammate on both sides.”
Krause said switching things up offensively from one side to the other isn’t difficult. Defense is a different story.
“Sometimes I do have to go to my coaches as a refresher because I am blocking different hitters,” Krause said. “That’s something that really changes because hitters have tendencies and you know that going into a match. So sometimes I’ll have to get a refresher on what the other hitter’s tendency is.”
Indiana cut the Huskers lead down to two, but the Nebraska responded with a 5-1 run that included three aces (one by Rodriguez, two by Lauenstein) and two kills from Kubik to take a 19-13 lead.
The teams mostly traded points the rest of the way until Indiana handed Nebraska its last two points with an errant serve and an attack into the net.
Indiana hit .300 in the set and still lost by seven as Nebraska hit a blistering .481 with 15 kills. Kubik led the way with four more kills while Krause matched her, terminating on all but one of her swings.
Nebraska won five of the first eight rallies in the third set, then another Indiana service error sparked a 4-0 run featuring three straight blocks to give the Huskers a 9-3 lead. Krause had a block assist and a solo stuff, Bekka Allick had two assists and Mendelson had the other.
The Huskers took their largest lead at 11-4 after back-to-back kills by Mendelson and Krause. Indiana cut its deficit down to three on five different occasions, but the Huskers responded each time with Krause, Hord and Lauenstein all making plays down the stretch.
Krause and Lauenstein had four kills apiece in game three with three of Lauenstein’s coming in the last seven rallies. Nebraska hit .100 and held Indiana to .031. The Hoosiers misfired on four more serves without recording an ace.
Up next for Nebraska is another road trip as the Huskers head to Evanston for a rematch with Northwestern on Sunday. Nebraska swept the Wildcats in Lincoln on Oct. 16.
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.