LINCOLN, Neb. – No. 3 Nebraska’s stifling defense shut down No. 17 Purdue on Sunday afternoon as the Huskers swept the Boilermakers 25-17, 25-13, 25-17 in front of 8,004 fans.
“Any time you get a 3-0 win against a team in the Big Ten, we’re pretty pleased,” Coach John Cook said. “We did a really nice job defensively on Purdue and especially on their top hitters, which were [Ashley] Evans, their setter, Faye [Adelaja] and [Sherridan] Atkinson who I think hit .636 Friday night against Iowa with a bunch of kills. A really good job by our team defensively and I thought our serving gave them a lot of problems.”
Adelaja, Atkinson and Evans combined for three kills and nine errors on 29 attempts as the Boilermakers hit just .031 for the match. The Huskers shut down the Boilermakers at the net with 11 blocks including five in the second set alone. Senior middle blocker Amber Rolfzen led the way with nine blocks including one solo stuff.
“They hit very high, at a really high point,” Rolfzen said. “So I think blocking-wise, it was just to stay low and not go high with them because that’s really easy for a hitter to tool a block that way. I think it was just we set up really well and they couldn’t really find anywhere to go.”
Offensively, the Huskers hit .273 led by Kadie Rolfzen’s 11 kills on 20 swings. She just missed out on a double-double with nine digs and pitched in four assists and a block as well. Mikaela Foecke had eight kills on 19 attempts and Andie Malloy and Brian Holman added seven kills apiece.
“I just think we haven’t been ourselves for a couple games and we had a great week of practice and we worked really hard all week,” junior setter Kelly Hunter said. “We passed great, and that’s our game. We passed great and that opens up all of our attacks and I think that’s definitely one of our strengths. Overall, I think the energy out there was like our normal team and it was fun.”
After getting off to a slow start against Indiana on Friday, the Huskers came out with much more energy against Purdue. The Boilermakers gave them a fight early, but Nebraska turned a one-point lead at 14-13 to an eight-point win with an 11-4 run to close the first set.
“I never know on a Sunday how they’re going to come out because it’s just a weird day; you just feel like, it’s a Sunday, you sleep in, you’re not thinking you’re going to play a volleyball match,” Cook said. “So I was really pleased how they came out today and it was a way different feel than Friday night. I think our team was dialed in from the very first point … I was concerned [Purdue] would come in here and play with nothing to lose and redemption and all those things. They started off really well; I just think we wore them down a little bit.”
The Huskers dominated throughout the second set, holding the Boilermakers to. -.108 hitting en route to a 12-point win. The final set mirrored the first, with the teams battling back and forth early before Nebraska pulled away with a 10-4 run capped by an ace from Hunter on match point.
Hunter did a bit of everything as she often does, finishing with four kills on six swings, 30 assists, two aces, four digs and five blocks.
Next up on the schedule is a rematch with the Buckeyes in Columbus on Friday evening. Nebraska is looking to snap a three-game losing streak to Ohio State. After that, the Huskers will head to College Park, Maryland on Sunday to take on the Terrapins.
“It’s a great challenge and a great opportunity to go to Ohio State. We just played them so we’ll be better prepared mentally and game-plan-wise and it will be a great test for us. I’m always hopeful that matches like this – and we’re going to have to do this with several other teams – play them twice – so it’s part of the deal. It brings out the best in us. It will be a challenging weekend and I think we’re looking forward to it.”