The No. 3 Nebraska volleyball team saw a two-set lead slip away Saturday night, falling to No. 20 Utah 3-2 (25-18, 26-24, 25-27, 22-25, 13-15) at the Devaney Center. The Huskers are now 6-1 on the season, while the Utes remain undefeated at 7-0.
Lindsay Krause led Nebraska with a season-best 15 kills on .317 hitting with five blocks. Ally Batenhorstcame off the bench for a season-high 10 kills, and Kayla Caffey matched her with 10 more kills and a pair of blocks.
Nicklin Hames collected her fifth straight double-double on 39 assists and 17 digs.
Dani Drews, who ranks among the nation’s leaders in kills, led the match with 27 and added 16 digs for a double-double. Madelyn Robinson also had a double-double effort on 12 kills and 12 digs, and Zoe Weatherington finished with 17 kills and five blocks. Stef Jankiewicz totaled a match-high 50 assists, and Megan Yett put up 12 digs with a match-best five service aces. Vanessa Ramirez led all players with 21 digs.
As a team, Nebraska hit .202 to Utah’s .191. The Utes outdug NU 78-63 and had a 10-8 blocking advantage.
Utah led early after a pair of Drews kills bookended a 4-1 run up to 6-4. NU responded with six straight points powered by a pair of Madi Kubik aces and three Ute hitting errors to make it 10-6. Utah took the lead at 12-11 behind a 5-0 run, and the Huskers eventually regained the lead when a kill and an ace by Lexi Sun started a 4-0 spurt to go up 17-13. NU built its largest lead at 24-16 after a trio of Utah attack errors, a Kubik kill and a Keonilei Akana ace serve. The Utes managed a pair of kills to stave off set point, but a final kill by Kubik closed it at 25-18.
NU was led by three kills and two aces from Kubik and another three kills from Sun. The Utes counted 10 attack errors in the set.
Down late in the second set, the Huskers didn’t falter and staged a comeback to take a 2-0 match lead.
The set tied five times up to 11-11 before Utah worked to a 16-12 advantage. Later, facing an 18-14 deficit, the Huskers cut it to one with two attack errors and a Caffey kill that prompted a Utah timeout. The Utes came out of the break with two Drews kills and a block to go up 21-17.
But NU pulled within two three times on kills by Sun, Caffey and Kubik and trimmed it to 23-22 with a Sun/Schwarzenbach stop at the net. The duo put up another massive block to knot it at 23-23, and Utah called for a timeout. With NU trailing 24-23, Krause terminated her fourth kill of the set to tie it, and the Huskers brought it to set point again after a Utah attacking miscue. Schwarzenbach and Krause teamed up to block a final swing by Drews, capping the set at 26-24.
Through the first two sets, Krause accounted for six kills on nine swings with no errors to hit .667 and added three blocks.
Three kills from Drews helped Utah open to a 6-2 edge in the third set before NU rattled off three straight kills courtesy of Caffey and Batenhorst. The Huskers took the lead at 8-7 after another Caffey kill and a Kenzie Knuckles ace. Neither team could gain a significant foothold, and Utah used a quick 3-0 run to go ahead 17-16.
Out of a timeout, the Huskers got a kill from Rodriguez to start a 4-1 run that put them up 20-18. The set tied four more times up to 23-23, and a Hames kill followed by a Ute attack error brought it to match point and forced a Utah timeout. Two late kills from Weatherington spurred the Utes to a closing 3-0 run as they took the set 27-25.
Drews had nine kills in the third set alone to pace Utah.
Nebraska opened to a 4-0 lead in the fourth before Utah responded with five straight points. Six ties brought it to 10-10 before the Utes got kills from Yett and Robinson along with a block. Utah built to a 22-15 advantage — their largest of the set – before the Huskers trimmed it to 24-22 on a 5-1 run punctuated with back-to-back Knuckles aces. But Weatherington registered her 15th kill of the night to quell NU’s rally, giving Utah the set at 25-22 and forcing a deciding game five.
The Huskers were 0-for-5 on their opening swings of the fifth set as Utah went up 4-1 early. Two Krause kills then powered a 3-0 run to tie it. After three straight Ute points, a Batenhorst kill and a Caffey/Krause block pulled the Huskers within one. Batenhorst’s 10th kill of the night again made it a one-point margin at 9-8, and Caffey also reached her 10th kill to make it 10-9 Utah.
After a Schwarzenbach kill at 11-10, a challenge by Nebraska overturned a Utah point to tie it at 11-all. Back-to-back Krause kills propelled the Huskers ahead 13-12 — just its second lead of the set — and prompted a timeout by the Utes. But a Drews kill and an errant swing by NU pushed it to match point at 14-13 before the Huskers called for another break. Utah, which hit .346 in the set, finished it off on a Jankiewicz kill to win 15-13 and claim the match.
Nebraska plays its final non-conference road match, visiting No. 14 Stanford on Tuesday, Nov. 14.