It all came together Friday night for the 12th-ranked Nebraska volleyball team, as the Huskers cruised to a sweep of Michigan, 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-13) at the Devaney Center. With its third straight win, NU is now 9-3 (3-0 Big Ten), while the Wolverines drop to 8-4 (1-2).
The night was rife with highlights, including the return of All-American Lauren Stivrins, who missed the first 11 matches of her sixth year of eligibility after undergoing offseason back surgery. The Huskers also honored newly-minted Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame inductees Jordan Larson, Terry Pettit and Cathy Noth, as well as the 1990 NCAA Semifinal team as part of the Weekend of Champions.
Stivrins was strong in her return to the court, finishing with a match-high 11 kills on 15 errorless swings for a .733 night along with three blocks. Madi Kubik matched her with 11 kills on .455 hitting alongside seven digs, and two blocks.
Nicklin Hames finished with 39 assists, seven digs and a career-high five service aces.
Keonilei Akana also had a solid performance with a match-high 11 digs and three service aces.
The Huskers fired at a season-high .462 as a team and committed just four attack errors, which was a season low. NU also had the advantage in blocking (8-1), aces (9-1), kills (47-31), digs (45-41) and assists (45-26).
Michigan hit .198 for the night, and no Wolverine player had a double-figure kill effort. May Pertofsky had a team-high eight kills.
Nebraska was 5-for-5 out of the gate, with two kills apiece from Kubik and Krause and another from Batenhorst for a fast 5-1 lead and a Michigan timeout. A Stivrins slide attack on the senior’s first swing of the night was part of another 5-1 run that extended it to 10-3. The Huskers went up 15-7 by the Wolverines’ next timeout after a kill and a block from Caffey and a UM attack error.
Back-to-back Kubik kills doubled up the Wolverines at 18-9, and a Batenhorst/Caffey block later gave NU its largest lead at 23-12. Caffey terminated twice down the stretch to put it away at 25-14.
The Huskers went without an attack error on their first 33 swings of the night, going on to .514 hitting as a team. Kubik had seven kills and hit .778 in the set.
The Huskers were hot again to start the second game, connecting on their first seven hitting attempts en route to a 7-2 edge. A 6-0 run put Nebraska up 13-4, boosted by three kills and two Akana aces. The lead swelled to 16-6 on three straight kills from Kubik, Batenhorst and Stivrins, prompting a Michigan timeout.
The Wolverines cut it to 20-14 on five kills and an ace for a 6-0 run finally stopped with a Caffey kill. Another kill from Krause, two more from Stivrins and a Stivrins/Krause block capped a 4-0 run and gave the Huskers the set, 25-15.
NU hit .419 in the set, led by four kills from Stivrins and two blocks apiece from Caffey, Batenhorst and Krause.
The Huskers hit .444 in the third set behind four kills from Stivrins, who also put up a pair of blocks. Nebraska ran out to an early lead again, 8-4, on the back of two kills apiece from Caffey, Krause and Stivrins. Up 11-6, Hames came up big for the Huskers midway through with a dump kill and four straight aces for a 16-6 advantage. NU led by at least eight the rest of the way, and a setting error and a Batenhorst kill closed out the set, 25-13, for the match sweep.
Noting Tonight’s Match
-Tonight was the Huskers’ fifth sweep of the season and its second straight.
-Nebraska has started at least 3-0 in Big Ten play nine consecutive seasons.
-Nebraska’s four attack errors were its fewest since Sept. 15, 2018, when it had four against Missouri State.
-The Huskers lead the all-time series with Michigan 20-3, all in the John Cook era. They have posted 12 straight wins over the Wolverines and won 14 of the last 15 outings.
-NU is 10-1 against Michigan at home, including 7-0 at the Devaney Center.
-Nebraska is 17-2 against Michigan as Big Ten peers.
Nebraska completes its home stand on Sunday, Oct. 3, welcoming Michigan State. First serve is set for 3 p.m. at the Devaney Center