Nebraska volleyball got back to winning after dropping its previous three road matches. The Huskers took down a shorthanded Ohio State squad in four sets in Columbus, 25-15, 23-25, 25-12 and 25-9.
No. 9 Nebraska (16-5, 7-4) outhit Ohio State (12-11, 3-8) in all four sets and finished the match with a .407-.083 edge while out-blocking the Buckeyes 10-5. Middle blocker Lauren Stivrins finished with a career-high 16 kills on .789 hitting. The Buckeyes were without starting middle Jordan Fry as well as three other players out with injury.
The Huskers got Jazz Sweet going early as she recorded the first two kills of the match. Then began the Stivrins Show.
The sophomore recorded back-to-back blocks followed by a kill to open a 9-4 lead and force an Ohio State timeout. The Buckeyes never got closer than four the rest of the way as Stivrins record seven total kills on nine swings in the opening set and Nebraska outhit Ohio State .481-.097 in the 25-15 win.
The teams traded 4-0 runs early in set two before Ohio State built a 12-7 lead behind strong serving and some passing struggles from the Huskers. The Buckeyes maintained a lead until a Lexi Sun kill followed by a block finally pushed the Huskers ahead 20-19, their first lead of the set.
Ohio State briefly took a 22-21 lead on a net violation called against Callie Schwarzenbach. Coach John Cook challenged the call and it was reversed when video showed the hair of Ohio State’s Becca Mauer caused the net violation, not Schwarzenbach’s hand, but the officials opted to replay the point.
With the set again tied at 22 the Huskers appeared to take a lead when Bia Franklin hit long, but an Ohio State challenge ruled a Nebraska touch. The Buckeyes went on to take set two 25-23, set point coming on a mistimed hit resulting in Stivrins’ first attack error of the night.
“We had more kills, but we had seven errors,” Cook said on his postgame radio show of set two. “We gave them like 10 points, and when you’re giving away points it’s easy to lose games.”
Nebraska reversed its challenge luck right away in set three as Cook made the rare decision to challenge the first point, initially ruled out on an attempted kill by Sun.
“I owed Lexi,” Cook said, recalling a Sun block from a few weeks ago that was ruled out, and not challenged, but postgame video revealed it was in. “I can’t let my girls down. I don’t care if it’s 24-24 or 1-0, we’ve got to fight for every point.”
The call was reversed and the Huskers were off and running from there, building an 11-4 lead on back-to-back kills from Mikaela Foecke. The senior captain had just three kills entering the set but had six in game three, including set point, as Nebraska ran away with a 25-12 win.
The Huskers didn’t slow down in set four, scoring the first three to force an early timeout. Ohio State got on the board before another 4-0 Nebraska run opened a 7-1 lead. The Buckeyes never cut the lead to less than five the rest of the way as the Huskers hit .600 to Ohio State’s -.037 to win 25-9.
Four Huskers – Stivrins, Foecke (12), Sweet (11), Sun (10) –– finished the night with double-digit kills as Nebraska posted its second-best hitting percentage of the season.
Nebraska returns to action Saturday night in Lincoln when it hosts No. 6 Illinois. First serve is set for 7 p.m.