No. 4 Nebraska (6-1) picked up more and more steam as the match went on en route to a sweep over Central Michigan (3-7) that lasted just one hour and 12 minutes.
“Our team made some adjustments,” Coach John Cook said. “We played better as the match went on. I thought we did some good things and got into a rhythm.”
The Huskers took down the Chippewas 25-18, 25-15, 25-11 in their first of two matches on Friday as part of the Husker Invite at the Devaney Center. Announced attendance for the match that began around 12:20 p.m. was 7,907 with actual attendance at 4,564.
“It was awesome to see the crowd again on the second time we’ve played on a Friday [afternoon],” Cook said. “I’m just in awe of the Husker fans and the Husker nation and [how] they support our team … The Central Michigan coach, I asked him why they wanted to come here and he goes, ‘Because I want my team to experience this; we’ve got a young team.’ You play these tournaments [elsewhere] Friday, there’s no fans and they get to come here and be a part of tha, so great job by our fans.”
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins matched her season-high with nine kills on .471 hitting with three blocks and senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke matched her with nine kills on .381 hitting. The Huskers hit .347 for the match and served up eight aces with eight errors compared to Central Michigan’s 13 errors without an ace. Sophomore defensive specialist Hayley Densberger was responsible for three of those aces and recorded seven digs, tied for the match high.
“I definitely think we cleaned it up [in game three],” Sweet said. “We brought our energy, we got our huddle a little bit tighter, we were connecting better on our serve and pass. We had eight aces, eight errors so that’s a great ratio to have; it means we’re serving aggressively. I definitely think our serving carried us through that match right there.”
Central Michigan put up a good fight against the Huskers in the first set, but seven service errors by six different players and the combination of Foecke and Sweet proved to be too much as Nebraska used a 3-0 run early to build a 7-3 lead and kept the Chippewas at an arm’s length the rest of the way. Foecke and Sweet combined for 9 kills on 17 attempts without an error in the first set.
An early 5-0 run put the Huskers up 7-2 in the second set and the Huskers cruised from there, stretching out the lead to as much as 13 at one points. Hayley Densberger served one 5-0 run that included aces on three of her four serves.
“It was so fun,” Stivrins said about Densbegrer’s run. “We were just like ‘Keep it going, keep it going.’ I was like ‘Go for the turkey! C’mon, you’ve got it.’ It’s awesome. Everyone works so hard at it. We work on it every single day so it’s really nice to see it pay off.”
Late in the set and leading by 12, Cook subbed in sophomore middle blocker Anezka Szabo and senior setter Brooke Smith and the two connected on Szabo’s first kill of the season on set point.
Nebraska broke the third set wide open with a 10-2 run that gave it a 15-7 lead and the Huskers continued to roll from here, hitting .750 for the set. Cook sent Szabo and Smith into the game once again with the Huskers leading 23-11. Szabo recorded her first block of the season, a solo stuff, to set up match point and Smith finished it off with an ace.
“I saw a glimpse of what Anezka can do,” Cook said. “You get a set at Anezka, she was way over on that block right there. We’ve got to continue to develop that with her because when we get against big hitters, that could be a big weapon for us.”
Earlier on Friday, Missouri State (6-5) mounted a late comeback in set three to complete a sweep (25-21, 25-19, 25-23) over New Mexico (5-5). Laynie Dake, Aubrey Chaffy and Amelia Flynn led the Bears with eight kills apiece while Tai Bierria finished with a match-high 10 kills for the Lobos.
The Huskers will return to the Devaney Center to take on the Lobos at 7:30 p.m., or about 35 minutes after the conclusion of Missouri State versus Central Michigan.
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.