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No. 3 Huskers Overcome Big Maryland Block for Four-Set Win

October 02, 2022

No. 3 Nebraska hit a season-low .099 but still found a way to win on the road on Sunday afternoon. The Huskers beat Maryland in four sets in front of a sold-out crowd at XFINITY Center Pavilion.

Nebraska (12-1) pulled out a 25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22 victory to improve to 4-0 through two weeks of Big Ten play.

“Any win in the Big Ten is a good win,” Coach John Cook said during his post-match radio interview. “I thought Maryland played really hard. They were very inspired and they got a lot of balls up. We were bounce-blocking them and they were covering them. Hopefully we’re going to learn some things this match, but we did find a way to win.”

Maryland (9-7, 0-4 Big Ten) tied the rally scoring era record for a Nebraska opponent with 17 blocks, accounting for more than half of Nebraska’s 29 attack errors. The Huskers failed to reach the .100 hitting threshold for just the third time in the past four seasons.

“They’re a good blocking team and we made a lot of dumb shots and our setters were very inconsistent,” Cook said. “Our hitters had no rhythm today and they were just trying to find a way.”

Whitney Lauenstein stuffed the stat sheet with 11 kills, seven digs, six blocks and a career-high four aces, but she hit just .024 thanks to 10 attack errors. Madi Kubik added nine kills on .167 hitting and 11 digs. Nebraska’s other three pins — Lindsay Krause, Maggie Mendelson and Ally Batenhorst — combined for nine kills and 11 errors.

Anni Evans led Nebraska with 19 assists while Kennedi Orr added 18, though the sophomore also recorded seven ball-handling errors.

The Huskers did get strong production from their middles as freshman Bekka Allick tied her season-high with nine kills on .571 hitting and four blocks. Kaitlyn Hord recorded a season-high nine blocks and added six kills on .333 hitting.

“[Hord] was really good,” Cook said. “I wish we could set her more, but she made some monster blocks today. Her and [Maryland’s Rainelle] Jones are two of the premier middles in the country for blocking and those guys put on a show today.”

Nebraska finished with 13 bocks itself while holding Maryland to .046 hitting. Lexi Rodriguez had a match-high 19 digs while Kenzie Knuckles chipped in 10 digs and two aces. Nebraska finished with seven aces and just five errors as a team while Maryland, the Big Ten’s leader in aces per set at just over two per game, finished with four aces and six errors.

Freshman outside hitter Hayden Kubik joined senior Nicklin Hames in street clothes for the match, though Cook said afterward he wasn’t yet sure what her injury was.

Nebraska got off to a rough start with two attack and one serve receive error as the Terrapins raced out to a 7-2 lead. The Huskers quickly settled in, however, and Lauenstein ripped off a 9-0 serving run including an ace.

The run finally ended as Orr hit the net on an overpass swing, but the Huskers scored three more to take a 14-8 lead. Maryland burned both of its timeouts during the 12-1 Nebraska stretch. The Huskers built the lead up to eight before Maryland recorded its first block of the day then notched back-to-back kills to make it 20-15. 

Lauenstein recorded her first kill off the day after a slow start then served another ace two points later as Nebraska scored four straight to earn set point, then Maryland scored three in a row before a ball-handling error ended the set.

Maryland had as many attack errors as Nebraska had kills with eight each; Nebraska hit .160 to Maryland’s .114. The Huskers continued their hot serving from Friday night with four aces while Maryland served just one ace and four errors.

After a quiet first set, the big Maryland block came alive in the second with three stuffs during a 5-2 start for the Terrapins. Nebraska scored four straight to take the lead before another Maryland block.

Four more ties and four more lead changes followed before the Huskers managed to surge ahead for a 17-13 lead with a 6-2 run that included four Maryland attack errors. Nebraska stretched the lead to six at 21-15 with a pair of kills and a Maryland ball handling error.

Nebraska maintained the lead from there and earned set point at 24-18, but the Terrapins refused to go down easily as a service error from Orr set off a 5-0 run featuring four straight blocks to cut the deficit to one. However, Sam Csire’s tip dropped out of bounds for her ninth attack error of the day to give the Huskers the set and a 2-0 lead.

Nebraska hit just .073 with 11 attack errors, 10 of which were Maryland blocks. Krause terminated four times after not taking a swing in the first set, but she also had four errors including three during the stretch of blocks late. Maryland hit .029 with just eight kills.

Maryland carried its momentum into the third set as it jumped ahead 8-4, and the Terrapins maintained a cushion throughout much of the set. The lead bounced between five and two a few times before the Huskers put together a 4-0 run including three Maryland attack errors to pull within one at 21-20. After trading sideouts, Nebraska gave the last three points to the Terps with a Knuckles service error, a Lauenstein attack error and an Orr ball-handling error.

Nebraska hit .250 with just three attack errors, but officials whistled Orr for four ball-handling errors and the Terrapins served two aces. Maryland hit .175. Lauenstein put down four kills in the set after hitting negative in the first two sets.

Nebraska got off to a much better start in game four, winning seven of the first 10 rallies to draw an early timeout from Maryland. The Terrapins cut the deficit down to one, but Nebraska responded with a 5-1 run to pull ahead 14-9.

Nebraska pushed the lead to six four different times before Maryland batted back to tie it at 22-all with a 7-1 run. Maryland ended its own run with a service error, however, and the Huskers gave the Terrapins a taste of their own medicine with back-to-back double-blocks from Hord and Lauenstein to close out the match.

Both teams hit in the negative with Nebraska at minus-.020 and Maryland at minus-.116. Lauenstein led the Huskers with four kills and four blocks in the set.

The NCAA Division I Volleyball Committee also released its early top-10 on Sunday while the Huskers were on the court, and Nebraska came in at No. 4 behind Texas, Louisville and San Diego.

Nebraska will hit the road again next week to visit the two Michigan schools.

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