After dropping its first set to the Hoosiers since 2012, No. 5 Nebraska dominated the final three games at Indiana to win its fifth straight match.
The Huskers (16-2, 8-1 Big Ten) took down the Hoosiers (12-10, 1-8) 22-25, 25-13, 25-16, 25-14. Nebraska hit .279 overall including .330 in the final three sets. The Huskers held the Hoosiers to .100 hitting, out-dug them 60 to 47 and out-blocked them 11 to eight.
Junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins was a force all night, leading the Huskers in kills, attempts and blocks. She finished with 17 kills on .394 hitting and six blocks. Junior opposite hitter Jazz Sweet broke out of a bit of a slump with 14 kills on .321 hitting. Junior outside hitter Lexi Sun finished strong to record 13 kills on .267 hitting, 17 digs and three aces. Freshman outside hitter Maid Kubik added 10 kills, six digs and three blocks.
Sophomore setter Nicklin Hames started after missing practice all week with an illness and finished with 51 assists, 12 digs and five blocks. Freshman libero and Indiana native Kenzie Knuckles had 11 digs, six assists and three aces.
Hames spread the offense around early as Nebraska’s first five kills were by five different players, but a successful challenge by Indiana turned a 7-5 lead into a 6-6 tie. The Hoosiers used a 3-0 run to pull ahead 9-7 but Nebraska answered with three straight of its own to retake the lead 10-9. After four more ties, Indiana scored two straight to take a 15-13 lead at the media timeout. Nebraska contributed to Indiana’s point total with six attack errors, three of which were Hoosier blocks.
Nebraska tied it out of the break but the Hoosiers responded with a 4-0 run as Nebraska’s serve receive fell apart. Nebraska got a kill from Sun but then Hames misfired on an attack and Indiana got a kill on a long rally to push its lead to five and draw Nebraska’s second timeout.
Sophomore middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach gave the Huskers a spark with a kill and a solo block and Kubik cut the deficit to three with a kill at 23-20 before Indiana earned set point. Nebraska won the next two rallies to draw an Indiana timeout, but sophomore defensive specialist Megan Miller missed on her serve out of the break to seal it.
Nebraska hit .150 in the opening set with nine attack errors and two service errors. Indiana hit .167 with an ace. Sweet led the Huskers with four kills on .300 hitting. The set was the first one the Hoosiers took from Nebraska since Nebraska was still playing in the NU Coliseum. Indiana lost at Nebraska 3-1 on Nov. 9, 2012, and the Huskers had swept them 11 straight times since.
Nebraska jumped out to a 6-2 lead early in set two then extended the lead to seven at 12-5 with a 4-0 run served by Kubik. The Huskers continued to roll from there as Indiana had no answer for the Husker onslaught. A 4-0 run gave Nebraska its biggest lead of the night at 22-10, but Indiana pushed back with three straight. After a Nebraska timeout, Stvirins closed it out with a kill, a block assist and another kill.
Nebraska hit .375 in the set with just three attack errors and three aces. On the other side, Indiana hit .061 and had just one block after recording four in the first set. Kubik led the Huskers with five kills and Stivrins added four.
Nebraska opened the third set with a 5-1 run including a pair of aces by Sun. Indiana pulled within one but Stivrins responded with back-to-back kills. Indiana tied it up with three straight but Nebraska went to Stivrins again and again she delivered with a kill on the slide. After Indiana tied it up again, the Huskers rode a 6-1 run into the media timeout, taking a 15-10 lead at the break.
Nebraska continued to roll when play resumed, stretching its lead to 18-11 to draw Indiana’s first timeout then 21-12 to draw its second. The Huskers cruised from there to pull ahead 2-1 in the match.
Nebraska hit .281 behind seven more kills from Stivrins and held the Hoosiers to .062. Sweet added four kills of her own to crack the double-digit barrier alongside Stivrins.
After going back and forth early in game four, Nebraska used a 6-0 run to pull ahead 8-3. Indiana cut the deficit to three a couple of times before the Huskers blew the game wide open with a 7-0 run that put them up 18-8. The closest Indiana got the rest of the way was 20-13 as Nebraska finished off the match in four. Sun delivered the winning kill off the Indiana block on match point.
Nebraska hit .333 in the fourth with 17 kills while holding Indiana to .103 hitting (eight kills, five errors).
The Huskers will continue their road trip at No. 20 Purdue on Saturday night. The Huskers beat the Boilermakers (13-5, 5-4) in four sets in Lincoln last Wednesday. First serve on Saturday is set for 7 p.m. on BTN.
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.