Photo by Pat Radigan
25-11, 25-14, 25-12
Albrecht – 14
Stivrins – 3.0
Hunter – 10
Townsend – 10
Story by Pat Radigan
Nebraska serving sets the tone in a sweep of Stony Brook
A dominant opening round effort by the Nebraska volleyball team, including an emotional exclamation point, helped the Huskers see off Stony Brook and advance in the NCAA tournament.
Huskers Annika Albrecht and Mikaela Foecke powered Nebraska to an easy 2-0 lead at the break, before senior Allie Havers registered her first collegiate kills to help slam the door on the sweep. Albrecht added her 14th kill on match point, and was the only hitter with double digit kills, while Foecke added 9 kills on .600 hitting.
Stony Brook was making its NCAA debut after winning the America East Conference title, but was unable to match the feat of last year’s champion New Hampshire, who nearly took a set off of Nebraska in the opening round last year in Lincoln.
“Last year against New Hampshire, we won 25-23,” said NU coach John Cook. “The year before, we lost the first game to Harvard. Penn State tonight lost a game against Howard. It’s difficult to play these teams, because this is their National Championship match.”
Yet even with Stony Brook’s upset-minded energy, Nebraska’s athleticism was too much. Albrecht and Foecke’s 23 combined kills came on 43 swings without an error, and Nebraska rattled off 9 aces from the service line. Stony Brook’s coach credited the difference in angle and arm speed as a factor in the Seawolves inability to get control of NU’s serves.
Nebraska also posted 9 blocks in the win, all in the first two sets, and held Stony Brook to just 22 total kills over three sets to cruise to the win.
Albrecht started strong with 5 kills in the first set and helped power the Huskers to a convincing 25-10 win in the frame. Maloney added two aces in the set, with Lauren Stivrins chipping in three block assists to help hold Stony Brook to just 6 kills with 4 errors. To make matters worse for the Seawolves, NU hit .424 as a team and got 4 kills on 6 swings from Foecke to take the early edge.
Stony Brook did better to challenge Nebraska in the second set, finishing with 11 kills in the game, but could do little to provide any sort of real threat. Nebraska started the set with a 4-0 run, including an ace and a back row kill by Albrecht, and ended it with three-straight points to cruise to a 2-0 lead at the intermission.
The third set started more back-and-forth than the first two, before a 9-0 run put Nebraska up 13-4. With the Huskers ahead 21-11, Cook inserted Havers into the lineup to make her Devaney Center debut and bring an idea to life that Cook said had been brewing for three weeks. The home crowd erupted as Havers entered the game, and got even louder when the senior rifled a kill down to the floor on the next point.
Albrecht practically mugged Havers with a hug as soon as the ball hit the ground, before Havers added another kill two points later to finish with a team-high .667 hitting percentage on her three swings.
“It was awesome. She worked so hard for it,” Albrecht said. “She works hard every day and she probably didn’t even know if she was going in or not and she comes in every day at practice and she works her butt off…She ‘super thumped’ it. It was awesome.”
Next for Nebraska is a showdown with Washington State, who dismissed Florida State in four sets to advance to the second round.