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Panthers snaps Husker volleyball win streak

Panthers snaps Husker volleyball win streak
(Stephanie Carpenter/Nebraska Communications)

The 10th-ranked Nebraska volleyball team had its six-match win streak snapped by Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon at Baxter Arena. The Panthers earned their fourth victory over a top-25 opponent this season with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 14-25, 25-21) win over the Huskers, who dropped to 6-3 overall.

UNI led throughout most of its first-set win and had a 10-point lead in set two before a furious Husker comeback attempt came up just short at 25-23. The Huskers dominated the third set, but the Panthers answered in set four and broke open an 18-18 tie with 7-3 run to finish the match.

Annika Albrecht had 15 kills and 10 digs while hitting .314 to lead the Huskers. She also joined NU’s career top 10 in service aces with the 113th ace of her career. Mikaela Foecke had 12 kills and 12 digs. Jazz Sweet had had 11 kills on .375 hitting. Briana Holman had eight kills, while Lauren Stivrins had seven kills and four blocks. Kenzie Maloney had a match-high 21 digs, while Sydney Townsend added 10. Kelly Hunter had 47 assists and nine digs.

Bri Weber and Karlie Taylor each had 15 kills for the Panthers (10-3). UNI served eight aces on the Huskers, which matched the most aces allowed by the Huskers since 2011.

Set 1: The Huskers played from behind early but four kills by Holman helped the Huskers to a 7-6 lead. Nebraska would claim a two-point edge but the Panthers battled back to go ahead 15-13 at the media timeout with a 5-1 spurt. After the break, Foecke and Holman teamed up for a block and Sweet put a ball away from the right side to even the set at 15-15. But the Panthers reclaimed a 17-15 lead on an ace serve. NU trailed 20-17 when Stivrins knocked a kill down at the net. The Huskers pulled within 20-19 on an ace by Albrecht, the 113th of her career, which moved her into a tie for 10th in school history. But UNI answered with a kill and two straight aces to go up 23-19, and the Panthers finished the 25-20 win on a kill by Taylor. UNI had four aces in the set.

Set 2: NU’s struggles in serve receive continued as the Panthers opened the set with three straight points and eventually led 6-2 after UNI’s fifth ace. The Panthers led 8-4 when Sweet and Albrecht terminated to slice the deficit to two. But the Panthers took control of the set with an 8-2 run to go up 17-9. UNI continued to pull away and went ahead 21-11 with another ace serve and a block. Nebraska strung together three straight kills by Holman, Albrecht and Sweet to pull within 21-14 and build some momentum. After a Husker hitting error, Holman got another kill and Hayley Densberger served an ace to cut the Panthers’ lead to 22-16. The deficit shrunk to three at 23-20 after Albrecht tallied three kills for the Big Red in a 4-0 run. But Taylor connected for set point for the Panthers at 24-20 on the next rally. Stivrins posted a solo block and UNI hit the antenna to make it 24-22, then Foecke got a kill to make it 24-23. But Weber clinched the set for UNI at 25-23 to thwart the Huskers’ comeback attempt.

Set 3: Nebraska got off to a better start in set three with six early kills, two by Foecke and two by Sweet, for a 10-7 lead. Hunter served an ace after a Holman kill to build the Huskers’ lead to 15-10, and Albrecht’s ninth kill of the day made it 17-12 and forced UNI’s second timeout of the set. Stivrins placed a kill to the back corner to begin a 5-0 run that put the Huskers ahead 22-13 with Hunter adding a kill and Stivrins and Albrecht teaming up for a block in that run. Stivrins later combined with Anezka Szabo to post a block for set point, which the Huskers immediately won on a UNI error. Nebraska won 25-14 after hitting .478 in set four with 12 kills and just one error.

Set 4: The Panthers jumped out to a 9-3 lead with eight kills on their first 11 swings. Sweet put an end to the 4-0 UNI run with a kill, and Foecke served an ace before Holman and Sweet got a block to pull the Big Red within 9-6. Sweet found the floor again before Albrecht connected on back-to-back kills to cut it to 10-9 and force a UNI timeout. Densberger served an ace after the timeout to level the score briefly before UNI answered to go up 12-10. Albrecht posted two more kills around a UNI hitting error to put the Big Red in front, 13-12. The Panthers went back in front by two, 17-15, courtesy of a Taylor Hedges ace and two Bri Weber kills. Hunter dumped a kill and UNI hit wide to tie it up, 18-18. But the Panthers scored the next three for a 21-18 lead, including their eighth ace of the match. The Panthers finished off the win with a 25-21 fourth-set victory.

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