Nebraska Volleyball Prepares for Top 15 Showdown With Penn State

The No. 10 Nebraska volleyball team (10-3, 4-0 Big Ten) makes a trek to the East Coast this week, visiting No. 13 Penn State (11-3, 4-0) on Friday, Oct. 8. First serve is set for 6 p.m. CT at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa.

Quick Hits
• Nebraska and Penn State are tied for first in the Big Ten standings and are the only remaining unbeaten teams at 4-0 in conference play.
• NU has gone at least 3-0 to start Big Ten play nine consecutive years. The Huskers’ fourth straight win on Sunday marked the fifth time they have gone at least 4-0 since 2013.
• Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Michigan State was the Huskers’ sixth sweep of the season and their third straight.
• The Huskers returned to the top 10 in the AVCA national poll this week, coming in 10th.
• Nebraska previously held a streak of 60 straight weeks in the top 10 of the AVCA poll before sitting at 12th in the Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 releases. It was the only time the Huskers had ranked outside the top 10 since Sept. 18, 2017, when they were 14th.
• Nicklin Hames moved up to fourth all-time for career assists on Sunday, passing Nikki Stricker, who had 3,786 from 1990-93. Hames now has 3,816.
• Hames will play in her 100th career match Friday at Penn State.
• The Huskers are hitting a league-leading .314 in Big Ten matches and are second with 15.08 kills per set. NU is also tied with Michigan State for the league lead at 1.85 service aces per set.
• NU opened 2021 with a six-match win streak, then dropped three straight to No. 20 Utah (Sept. 11), No. 16 Stanford (Sept. 14) and No. 5 Louisville (Sept. 18) before rebounding with four wins.
• The Huskers played four straight top-20 opponents in an 11-day span last month with No. 19 Creighton (Sept. 8), No. 20 Utah (Sept. 11), No. 16 Stanford (Sept. 14) and No. 5 Louisville (Sept. 18).
• Five of NU’s six freshmen have seen the court this year.

Scouting the Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State won its sixth consecutive match on Saturday, defeating Indiana 3-1 on the road to improve to 11-3 (4-0 Big Ten). Jonni Parker finished with a match-high 19 kills and 11 digs, and Allie Holland added 10 kills and five blocks. Kaitlyn Hord led the match with six stops at the net, part of a 13-block effort by the Nittany Lions.

Holland’s .417 attack percentage in conference matches ranks fourth, and Parker’s 4.07 kills per set are fifth. Hord leads the Big Ten with 1.73 blocks per set in conference play, and PSU is the league’s leading blocking team at 3.20 blocks per set. In all matches, they have a nation-best 3.32 b/s.

Penn State finished 10-6 (9-5 Big Ten) last spring. Hord and Gabby Blossom were both All-Big Ten selections. Russ Rose is in his 43rd season at PSU with a career record of 1,320-221.

Noting the Series: vs. Penn State
The Huskers have won nine of the last 10 meetings with Penn State. They lead 23-11 in the all-time series, including 14-6 in the John Cook era and 10-5 in Big Ten matches. The series is tied 4-4 when set in Happy Valley. NU has posted back-to-back five-set wins over the Nittany Lions and won eight of the last nine five-set battles with PSU.

The most recent NU-PSU contest was Nov. 2, 2019 at the Devaney Center, where the Huskers turned in a 3-2 win behind 20 kills, seven digs and four blocks from Lexi SunCallie Schwarzenbach’s nine-block effort boosted NU to 14 blocks as a team. Kenzie Knuckles put up 24 digs, and Nicklin Hames had 22 more.

The last meeting at Rec Hall was Oct. 13, 2018, which the Nittany Lions won 3-2. Sun also had 20 kills in that match to go with nine digs.