The No. 9 Nebraska volleyball team rattled off its eighth straight win Saturday night, sweeping Illinois 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-19) at the Devaney Center. The conference-leading Huskers are now 14-3 (8-0 Big Ten), while the Illini drop to 12-7 (4-4).
Nebraska is the first team this year to hand UI a three-set loss. The win was the Huskers’ 10th at home this season.
Madi Kubik put together an outstanding offensive performance, matching her season high for the third time with 19 kills on .457 hitting to lead all players. She added six digs and a service ace. Kubik has led the Huskers in kills in eight consecutive matches.
Callie Schwarzenbach added three more stops, which moved her up to sixth for career blocks (392) at Nebraska in the rally-scoring era, past Brooke Delano’s 389 from 2007-11.
Lexi Rodriguez anchored the Husker defense with a match-high 17 digs. Nicklin Hames had 32 assists and 10 more digs with a block and an ace for her team-best 10th double-double this season. Kenzie Knuckles added six digs and five assists on the night.
NU hit .267 as a team while limiting Illinois to .100. The Huskers also had the advantage in kills (42-30), assists (42-27), aces (3-1) and digs (52-37), while Illinois had the edge in blocking (9-5).
The Illini were led by seven kills apiece from Kennedy Collins and Riana Terry. Wahoo, Neb., native Kyla Swanson and Megan Cooney each had six more, and Swanson added a match-high five blocks.
Kubik posted six kills on .500 hitting out of the gate as Nebraska hit .121 as a team while keeping Illinois to .000. The Illini had five blocks in the first set, led by three apiece from Swanson and Terry.
The Huskers got out to a 9-3 lead with the help of a 5-0 run that included four kills from Kubik, who connected on four of her first five swings. NU doubled up the Illini at 12-6 on a Stivrins slide attack. The Illini came back with a 4-1 run on three blocks and a Swanson kill to cut it to 13-10, and by the media timeout, a Schwarzenbach kill had spotted NU a 15-11 lead.
After Kubik terminated again, Knuckles did so from the back row for a 17-12 Husker lead and an UI timeout. Following a pair of Illini errors and a Kubik ace, it was 20-13 by the next break. Illinois rallied with a 3-0 run on a Terry kill, a Cooney ace and a solo block by Collins, at which point NU took a timeout up 23-19. Two late Illini service errors put it away for the Huskers, 25-21.
The Huskers’ first six points all came on kills spread out among Krause, Knuckles, Stivrins and Kubik. NU hit .818 (9-0-11) to start, and a 3-0 run on two Illini errors and another Kubik kill — her 10th — extended it to 13-6 by the first break. Kubik added three more kills for a 17-10 Husker advantage, and NU matched the seven-point margin again at 20-13 on a Hames ace before an Illini timeout. NU outscored Illinois 5-1 to close it out, with a Stivrins/Krause stop plus a pair of Krause kills capping the set, 25-15.
NU, which went without an attack error on its first 17 swings, hit .429 for the set. Kubik was credited with eight kills, bringing her total to 14.
Illinois assumed a 5-2 lead early before NU tied it at 5-5 on an Illini service error and kills from Kubik and Knuckles. An 8-1 spurt by the Huskers boosted by a Lexi Sun kill, an Anni Evans ace and two errant Illini swings made it 13-7. Illinois got no closer than four the rest of the way as NU worked toward the sweep. Kubik’s fifth kill of the set — and 19th of the night — punctuated it, 25-19.
Noting Tonight’s Match
-Nebraska leads the all-time series with Illinois 30-8-1, including 17-3 in the John Cook era.
-The Huskers have won five straight in the series dating back to 2018, and tonight was their third straight sweep of UI.
-NU has a 12-3 advantage over Illinois at home, including 5-2 at the Devaney Center.
-Nebraska’s eight-match win streak is its longest since 13 straight from Nov. 2 – Dec. 13, 2018.
-The Huskers’ sweep of the Illini is their ninth 3-0 win of the year and third in a row.
Nebraska takes to the road to face Iowa on Wednesday, Oct. 20, with first serve set for 7 p.m. at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa.