The No. 12 Nebraska volleyball team collected its third straight sweep in conference play Sunday afternoon, defeating Michigan State 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-20) at the Devaney Center. Now on a four-match win streak, the Huskers improve to 10-3 (4-0 Big Ten), while the Spartans drop to 8-5 (1-3).
Madi Kubik paced the Huskers offensively for the fourth straight match, leading all players with 10 kills alongside eight digs and two blocks. Kayla Caffey finished with a match-high four blocks in addition to six kills, and Lexi Rodriguez anchored the Huskers’ defensive effort with a match-best 17 digs.
Nicklin Hames came just shy of a double-double with 31 assists, nine digs and a block.
Lindsay Krause added nine kills on .304 hitting with two blocks, and Lauren Stivrins chipped in seven kills at a .333 clip with two stops at the net. Keonilei Akana also had a double-figure dig effort with 10 scoops.
Nebraska hit .250 as a team and held Michigan State to .079. The Huskers had the edge in kills (41-30), assists (38-28), digs (60-47), service aces (4-3) and blocks (7-6).
The Spartans were led by 10 kills from Cecilee Max-Brown. Leading hitter Sarah Franklin, who had averaged 5.80 kills per set in Big Ten play entering the match, was limited to five kills on -.029 hitting.
Nebraska opened to a 5-1 lead and extended it to 8-3 on an Akana ace and a Kubik kill before MSU called for its first timeout of the afternoon. It started a 6-0 run, which put the Huskers up 11-3. Two Spartan errors and an Ally Batenhorst kill later made it 15-5 before another MSU timeout.
Back-to-back kills from Krause and Kubik boosted the NU lead to 19-9. The Spartans made a late push with a 4-0 run on two Husker errors and a Biamba Kabengele kill, drawing an NU timeout at 23-16. But an MSU attack error and a Krause/Caffey block punctuated it and gave the Huskers the set, 25-16.
The Huskers got at least two kills from four players and hit .184 behind three kills from Caffey. MSU was limited to .024 as a team.
Nebraska hit .279 in set two behind five kills from Krause and four kills and six digs from Kubik. Michigan State hit .098.
MSU had the upper hand first before a 4-0 run gave the Huskers their first lead, 4-2. After the set stalled six times, NU came alive with a 5-0 spurt powered by a kill and a solo block from Caffey and a pair of Krause kills for a 15-10 advantage.
The Spartans chipped away to pull within two at 18-16 before kills from Kenzie Knuckles and Stivrins staved off their charge. NU outscored MSU 4-1 to close out the set at 25-19.
The third set tied eight times up to 11-11 before NU broke through with a Stivrins kill and a Stivrins/Hames block to spur a Spartan timeout. It was part of a 5-1 run punctuated with a Kubik ace for a 16-12 edge.
Four different players put down a kill as the Huskers extended it to 22-17. Kubik’s 10th kill of the afternoon brought it to set point at 24-18 before Stivrins terminated for a final time to seal the set at 25-20 and the match sweep.
NU hit .290 in the closing game, bolstered by four kills and two blocks apiece from Stivrins and Kubik. Stivrins hit .600 in the set.
Noting Today’s Match
-Today was Nebraska’s sixth sweep of the season and its third straight.
-It was also NU’s first sweep of Michigan State at home since Nov. 15, 2013.
-The Huskers lead the all-time series with Michigan State 23-2-2, including 18-2 in the John Cook era. They have posted 12 straight wins over the Spartans, including back-to-back sweeps.
-NU is 13-0 at home against Michigan State, including 7-0 at the Devaney Center.
-Nebraska is 15-2 against MSU as Big Ten peers.
-Nicklin Hames moved up to fourth all-time for career assists, passing Nikki Stricker, who had 3,786 from 1990-93. Hames now has 3,816.
Nebraska hits the road to face No. 14 Penn State on Friday, Oct. 8. First serve is set for 6 p.m. CT