Photo by Pat Radigan
25-21, 25-18, 25-13
Albrecht – 11
Holman – 11
Stivrins – 11
Stivrins – 5
Maloney – 12
Story by Pat Radigan
Nebraska’s balance leads to dominant effort for Husker middles
It’s one thing to perfectly distribute 115 attacks among five hitters, but when it leads to four hitters in double digits and a .301 mark as a team, it’s hard for anyone to keep up.
And that’s exactly the lesson No. 3 Minnesota learned Friday night at the Devaney Center.
Husker setter Kelly Hunter guided the NU attack to balanced dominance against the Gophers to give Nebraska a second sweep of a top 5 foe in a week’s time. After going back-and-forth in the opening set, Nebraska posted marks of .342 and .343 in the next two games to pull away and hand the Huskers an impressive 3-0 start to Big Ten action.
Nebraska’s outside hitters had 30 and 29 attacks, the middles were split 18 attempts to 19 attempts, and freshman right side hitter Jazz Sweet got 18 swings as setter Kelly Hunter’s precision distribution guided a potent Husker attack. Outside hitter Annika Albrecht tied with middles Briana Holman and Lauren Stivrins to tie for the team lead with 11 kills each, and NU’s other outside Mikaela Foecke added 10 of her own to make it four in double figures. Sweet had 8 kills and hit .333.
That balance helped the Huskers early, with all five hitters notching a kill as part of a sequence that saw Nebraska turn a 7-6 lead into a 16-9 cushion to take control early. The Gophers fought back, but were unable to keep the Huskers from pulling away with the set as a late Foecke ace, and back-to-back kills by Albrecht and Sweet allowed NU to take the 1-0 lead.
Minnesota regrouped to come out fighting in the second game, and was able to draw even at 8-8 on one of Alexis Hart’s match-high 13 kills. Much like the first set, though, Nebraska found a spurt midway through, and turned that deadlock into a 20-13 lead as the Husker attack picked apart the Gopher defense. Hunter credited Nebraska’s ability to cleanly pass the ball, and she used that rhythm to guide Nebraska to 18 kills as part of a 25-18 win in the second game.
The third set wasn’t even close.
A 9-2 spurt early in the set put Nebraska ahead 14-5. From there, the home fans turned the rest of the set into target practice for Nebraska, getting louder with each emphatic kill. Nebraska eventually took a 22-13 lead, and went kill-block-kill to put away the sweep in front of a packed crowd at Devaney for a 5 p.m. match on a Friday.
Foecke added 11 digs for a double-double, which tied her for second on the team with Hunter, and Albrecht’s 9 digs left her one short. Sydney Townsend added 7 digs and a service ace, and played a key part of a back line that Hunter said made the impressive hitting numbers possible.
Next for Nebraska is another top 10 matchup, with No. 7 Wisconsin coming to Devaney for a Saturday night showdown at Devaney.