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Madi Kubik Powers No. 6 Nebraska to Sweep Over No. 19 Purdue

November 20, 2022

No. 6 Nebraska got off to a slow start on Sunday, but senior Madi Kubik look over in the second set and powered the Huskers to a 3-0 sweep over No. 19 Purdue.

Kubik finished with a season-high 17 kills on .311 hitting as Nebraska bat the Boilermakers 25-22, 25-20, 25-11 in a Sunday matinee at the Devaney Center. She addd 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the season.

Lindsay Krause added seven kills on .333 hitting as Nebraska hit .192 overall. Nicklin Hames had a match-high 22 assists, surpassing 5,000 for her career, and Kennedi Orr chipped in 13 off the bench.

Whitney Lauenstein struggled offensively with four kills and six errors, but she led serving runs of 3-0, 4-0, 6-0 and 7-0 and had on of Nebraska’s two aces.

“Purdue came out firing on all cylinders and they kind of threw us off a little bit with how well they were playing,” Coach John Cook said. “I thought they started off the match really, really strong and we kind of really had to get off the ropes and find a way to get back into it. The big turnaround in all three games was Whitney went on big serving runs, and that was, I thought the key to the match. 

“Both teams played great defense, blocked well tonight; it was hard to get kills, and that’s the way it’s going to be from here on out. This time of year everybody’s dialed in. But a really good defensive performance by our our team to hold them down as much as we did and turn all the momentum and to get the crowd really into it.”

Lexi Rodriguez had a match-high 17 digs while Kenzie Knuckles chipped in 14 digs plus Nebraska’s second ace. The Huskers (24-3, 16-2 Big Ten) held Purdue (19-9, 10-8) to .016 hitting. The Boilermakers’ top attacker, freshman Eva Hudson, finished with six kills on minus-.071 hitting after the Huskers shut her down in the final two sets.

“I feel like after the first set ended, we really talked before we went into that second set, really honing in on we’re not going to let any junk fall,” Krause said. “Once we could stop their whole team’s kind of junk or funky stuff coming over, really get all the mis-hits and not let them get any easy points and make them earn every single point. That’s what kind of shifted our defense and you could tell for them, they had a really hard time getting kills in the second third sets because we really turned on our defense, saying like, ‘We’re not going to let any easy kills fall.’”

Purdue came out firing, converting each of its first four attacks into kills to take an early 4-1 lead, but the Huskers responded with their own 4-1 run to tie it up at 5-5. They went back and forth from there with eight ties and three lead changes before Nebraska pull ahead at 20-18. 

Purdue countered with a 4-0 run featuring three straight Nebraska attack errors to pull ahead 22-20, but Cook called a timeout to ice the Purdue server and it worked. She hit into the net out of the timeout and the Huskers seized the momentum, closing the set on a 5-0 run including two kills from Kubik and a set-point ac from Lauenstein.

Nebraska hit just .128 with seven attack errors. Purdue wasn’t too much better, hitting .186 with six errors, but Nebraska earned a six-point advantage from the service line with two aces and four Purdue errors. Kubik had five kills, but it took her 18 swings and two errors to get there.

The Huskers continued to struggle in the second set as their passing broke down, allowing Purdue to rip off a 5-0 run capped by an ace to take a 10-4 lead. Krause and Purdue’s Maddy Chinn traded kills over the next four rallies before Nebraska put together a 5-0 run including three straight Kubik kills to pull within one.

Lauenstein misfired on back-to-back rallies to push Purdue’s lead back to three, but the Huskers surged ahead with an 9-1 run for a 20-15 lead. Kubik had three kills and a block during the run while Bekka Allick had the first two kills of the day for a Nebraska middle plus two blocks during the run.

The cushion proved to be enough as Purdue pulled within three twice but got no closer. Nebraska closed out the set with a kill from Krause and a block from Kaitlyn Hord and Lauenstein.

“I didn’t even realize we were down 12-6,” Kubik said. “I think that’s something that’s really great about our team is our ability to not let the score dictate the way that we play and the fire that we have. I think we just had to dial in our focus a little bit, pick up on their junk and get our block going where it was easy to defend around,. I think that allowed us to make that run and win that set.”

Nebraska hit .170 behind eight kills on 19 errorless swings from Kubik. The Huskers held Purdue to minus-.047 hitting with 10 errors. After notching five kills in the first set, Purdue’s top attacker, freshman Eva Hudson, did not terminate in the second and had four errors on 17 attempts.

Hord opened the third set with a kill on an overpass, her first kill of the day, and four straight Purdue miscues gave Nebraska a 5-0 head start. Purdue pulled within three a couple of times, but the Boilermakers ran out of steam after a 7-0 Nebraska run stretched the Husker lead to nine at 15-6.

Nebraska used a 5-0 run to push the lead to 13 at 20-7 and cruised to the finish from there. 

Nebraska hit .346 and held Purdue to minus-.103 with 10 errors in the third. Kubik and Batenhorst had four kills apiece. Hudson had one kills and three errors in the third.

“Our serving really stressed them as we started going later in the match, and then our block started slowing them down,” Cook said. “But then our floor defense made it really hard on them. Kenzie Knuckles — how many digs did she have tonight? — but she was she was really, really good back there. There were a lot of balls that were hit up over our block, off our block, that she just tracked down. That’s one of the reasons we play this system, to get her in there as much as we can because she’s she can be a game-changer in the back row. She can win matches in the back row with us, along with Lexi back there and Nicklin. Those are three of the best diggers in the country.”

The Huskers will head into the final week of the regular season with a chance to win at least a share of the Big Ten title if they can take care of business against No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 9 Minnesota. 

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