MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The fifth-ranked Nebraska volleyball team dropped a hard-fought road match at No. 3 Minnesota, 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 23-25, 18-25), on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 5,467 at Maturi Pavilion.
The Huskers (15-5, 6-4 Big Ten) got off to a strong start with a decisive win in the first set. After trailing by eight in set two, the Huskers came all the way back and held a 23-22 lead, but momentum shifted after the Gophers scored three points to end the set. Minnesota (16-2, 10-0 Big Ten) thwarted another Husker comeback attempt in a deuce game in set three, and the Gophers pulled away in the fourth set.
Nebraska is the first team to take a set off the Gophers on their home court this season, and the Huskers are the only Big Ten team to win a set against the Gophers, which they’ve done twice, through the midway point of the conference schedule.
Mikaela Foecke had 17 kills and 10 digs, while Jazz Sweet had 13 kills. Lauren Stivrins matched her career high with 12 kills and hit .423, and Lexi Sun and Callie Schwarzenbach each had eight kills. Nicklin Hames had 54 assists and 12 digs to guide the Huskers to a .210 hitting percentage. Kenzie Maloney tied her career high with 25 digs.
Minnesota got 20 kills on .404 hitting and 14 digs from Adanna Rollins. Stephanie Samedy added 13 kills. The Gophers hit .253 and had just 13 attack errors, while the Huskers endured 25.
Set 1: Megan Miller made her first start since Sept. 14 and served a 5-0 run that included an ace to put the Huskers ahead 11-8. A kill by Foecke and a Minnesota hitting error increased the lead to 13-8. Schwarzenbach blasted a kill and combined with Sun for a block, then Foecke served an ace to make it 20-14 Huskers. A trio of Husker hitting errors and a kill by Hart cut the lead to 20-18, but Sun earned sideout for the Huskers and Sweet and Stivrins followed with kills for a 23-18 Husker lead. Sun’s fourth kill earned the Huskers set point at 24-19, and a Sun and Stivrins block ended it in NU’s favor, 25-19. NU had three aces and allowed none and out-hit the Gophers .211 to .098.
Set 2: The Gophers claimed a 10-5 lead after three straight kills and a Husker hitting error. Minnesota pushed the lead to 16-8 after its third ace of the set and a block. After a timeout, the Huskers went on a 6-0 run with Hayley Densberger serving. Stivrins had kills on three straight rallies, and Hames added a kill to pull the Big Red within 16-14. Trailing 20-18, Nebraska got three straight kills from Foecke to go ahead 21-20 and cap a 13-4 Husker run. The teams traded sideouts to 23-23, but Minnesota gained set point at 24-23 after stuffing a Husker attack. A Husker hitting error gave Minnesota the 25-23 win.
Set 3: Minnesota carried the momentum from its set two win into set three, taking a 7-1 lead. The Huskers answered with a 9-4 spurt to pull within 11-10 after Schwarzenbach found the corner. Sun blasted a kill from the left side to draw the Huskers even at 14-14, but nine straight sideouts followed before Minnesota gained a 21-18 edge after winning consecutive long rallies. But Foecke and Sun notched kills, and Sun teamed with Schwarzenbach for a block to level the score at 21-21. Minnesota went back up 23-21 before a Sweet kill, but the Gophers then gained set point at 24-22. Sweet placed a shot to the back of the court to make it 24-23, but Hart connected for Minnesota after a timeout for another 25-23 win.
Set 4: Stivrins and Foecke combined for four early kills, and Hames had one as well as an ace to lift the Huskers to a 6-4 lead. The Gophers came back to take a 12-11 lead, but Foecke posted a pair of kills to regain the lead for NU. Hart then answered for Minnesota with back-to-back kills, and later a Gopher ace increased their lead to 16-14. The Gophers pulled away to a 22-16 lead with a 6-1 run, keyed by two service aces and a pair of kills, and finished the match with a 25-18 win.
Up Next: The Huskers play their fourth straight match on the road, at Ohio State on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (CT).