Photo by Pat Radigan
20-26, 23-25, 25-14, 21-25
Albrecht – 15
Stivrins – 4
Maloney – 21
Story by Pat Radigan
A slow start spiraled out of control for the Huskers on Saturday at Baxter Arena
A streak of six-straight sweeps came to a screeching halt when unranked Northern Iowa dropped No. 10 Nebraska in game two of the Omaha Challenge.
The Panthers pulled away late in set one, and held off a late Husker challenge in set two to land the first blows. After falling behind 2-0, Nebraska landed it’s first counterstrike with a convincing 25-14 win in the third set, but UNI delivered the knockout in four to hand the Huskers their first loss to a team outside of a major conference since 2011.
Northern Iowa was the final team listed as receiving votes in this week’s AVCA poll, but owns wins over No. 18 USC and No. 19 Iowa State already this season. The Huskers last loss to a mid-major came to No. 15 Colorado State in 2011, with Saturday’s defeat marking the first time Nebraska has lost to an unranked opponent since a loss to Michigan on Oct. 12, 2014.
A back-and-forth first set looked to be tilting back toward the Huskers when Annika Albrecht’s ace cut the lead to 20-19, but UNI answered with a kill and a pair of service aces from Taylor Hedges to make it 23-19. The Huskers got a kill from Mikaela Foecke to break the run, but the Panthers had another answer as back-to-back kills put away a 1-0 lead in the match.
Northern Iowa kept that momentum flowing into the second set, and used a hitting hot streak to build a 21-11 lead over the No. 10 team in the country. Nebraska found enough of a rhythm to cut into that lead, eventually trimming the margin to 24-23 after fighting off three set points, but UNI made the most of its fourth set point chance and polished off a 25-23 win in the set.
Nebraska found an answer to win the third set and extend the match, but Northern Iowa was able to rebound in the fourth set to secure the upset.
On the heels of the Huskers 25-14 win in the third, the Panthers found a renewed energy to come out in the fourth set in another back-and-forth battle with NU. An early run for UNI allowed them to build a 10-6 lead, but NU with four straight points to even the score. The two sides traded points until another tie at 18-18, but it was the Panthers who would go on a 3-0 run and get enough of a cushion to hold on and win the set 25-21.
Nebraska won’t have to wait long to try and bounce back, though, as the Huskers battle Omaha tonight in the first edition of this interstate matchup in nearly 30 years. The match is set to start at 7:30 p.m.