No. 6 Nebraska (20-6, 11-5) bounced back from a first-set loss to take down No. 15 Michigan (19-8, 8-8) 3-1 in Ann Arbor on Saturday night.
Hitting was nearly even (a slight .213 to .209 edge for the Huskers) but the Huskers put down nine more kills and out-blocked the Wolverines 13 to seven.
Senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke led the way with 22 kills on .465 hitting, eight digs and five blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun bounced back from a rough start to finish with 17 kills and eight digs but she only hit .176 and was credited with four serve receive errors. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins continued her recent stretch of strong play with 13 kills and five blocks.
Freshman setter Nicklin Hames posted a 52-assist, 18-dig double-double. Freshman defensive specialist Megan Miller recorded a game- and career-high 23 digs while senior libber Kenzie Maloney added 17 digs of her own.
Michigan and Nebraska battled back and forth until midway through the first set when the Wolverines grabbed control and never let it go. Michigan ripped off a 12-3 run to close out the set and jump out to a 1-0 lead. Michigan hit .379 in the set.
The Huskers regrouped to start the second set, however, jumping out to leads of 6-3 and 10-7. The Wolverines tired it up at 10-all before a 6-2 run by the Huskers. A 3-0 run by Michigan cut the lead to one. Nebraska created some separation with a 3-0 run to pull ahead 21-17 and traded points until Hames and Stivrins teamed up for Nebraska’s fifth block of the set on game point. Nebraska turned the tables and hit .345 in game two.
The third set proved to be a game of runs and a battle right down to the end. Michigan took a 6-2 lead early, but the Huskers responded with a 7-1 run to pull ahead 9-7. A 4-0 Michigan run turned a 10-8 into a 12-10 deficit for the Huskers and the Wolverines stretched their lead out to four at 16-12. Six straight by Nebraska with Miller at the service line made it 18-16 Huskers but Michigan responded with three straight to take the lead once again.
What followed was ties at 19-19, 20-20, 21-21, 22-22, 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26. Then Foecke took over, putting down back-to-back kills to cap a 3-0 Nebraska run that put the Huskers up 2-1 in the match. Foecke put down eight kills in the set.
The fourth set was another tightly contested battle that needed more than the standard number of points to determine a winner. A 4-0 Huskers run gave Nebraska a 10-4 lead early but a 3-0 response by the Wolverines kept the Huskers from running away with it. Michigan gradually clawed its way back into the game, pulling ahead 13-12 with a 5-0 run. Nebraska broke a 14-all tie with a 3-0 run then built the lead up to four with another 3-0 run that made it 21-17 thanks to back-to-back kills by Sun.
Michigan wasn’t ready to call it a night just yet, however, as the Wolverines put together another 5-0 run to take the lead once again at 22-21. A 3-0 Nebraska run including an ace by Stivrins gave the Huskers match-point but Michigan’s Paige Jones staved off elimination with a pair of kills that tied it once again. Another Sun kill gave the Huskers match point once again and this time Nebraska finished it off with a double-block by Callie Schwarzenbach and Jazz Sweet.
After giving up close to .400 hitting in the first set, the Huskers held the Wolverines under .200 in each of the last three.
Next up for the Huskers is their final match of the regular season against a ranked opponent as Nebraska will head to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on No. 12 Purdue. First serve on Friday is set for 6 p.m. On Saturday, Nebraska will head to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Hoosiers in another 6 p.m. start.
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.