UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The fifth-ranked Nebraska volleyball team fell 3-2 (22-25, 25-11, 26-24, 23-25, 9-15) to No. 9 Penn State at Rec Hall on Saturday night.
The Huskers (15-3, 6-2 Big Ten) suffered their first loss to the Nittany Lions (15-3, 6-2 Big Ten) in eight matches dating back to 2014. Penn State won its 21st straight match at home dating back to its Sept. 22, 2017 sweep at the hands of the Huskers.
Lexi Sun had 20 kills, her most in a Husker uniform, to go with nine digs. Mikaela Foecke added 17 kills and 18 digs. With her 17 kills, Foecke moved past Virginia Stahr to No. 8 on Nebraska’s all-time career kills chart with 1,412.
Jazz Sweet had 10 kills, and Lauren Stivrins had 10 kills and five blocks while Callie Schwarzenbach had six kills and seven blocks. Nicklin Hames put up 49 assists with 18 digs for her fourth straight double-double.
Kenzie Maloney had 23 digs to move to No. 9 on Nebraska’s career digs chart, passing current director of operations Lindsay (Wischmeier) Peterson with 1,127.
Nebraska had a .210 to .172 edge in hitting percentage. The Huskers also out-blocked Penn State 13-10, reaching double-digit blocks for the fifth straight match.
Nia Reed led the Nittany Lions with 20 kills, though the Huskers held her to .171 hitting. Taylor Leath had 10 kills and hit .087.
Set 1: A 6-1 Husker run put them up 8-5 early, but Penn State tied the set at 12-12 as both teams struggled to find any rhythm on the attack. Penn State used a kill and a block to go up 16-15, but an ace by Hames and a block by Sun and Schwarzenbach put the Big Red up 19-17. The Nittany Lions answered with the next two points to make it 19-19. The teams traded sideouts for six rallies before Penn State ended the set on a 4-0 run to win 25-22.
Set 2: Nebraska scored first off a Sun kill and never trailed, taking a 15-7 lead after a 5-0 run keyed by two Sweet kills and an ace by Sun. After Penn State ended the run for one rally, the Huskers continued to build steam with a kill by Schwarzenbach, a block by Stivrins and Foecke, a kill by Sweet and a block and kill by Foecke to make it 20-8 via a 10-1 run. Foecke tacked on two more kills and an ace as the Huskers won 25-11, hitting .448 in the set and posting five blocks.
Set 3: Penn State built a 9-6 lead after scoring on five of six rallies. The Huskers drew even at 12-12 after Sun recorded three kills and Schwarzenbach hammered down an overpass. The teams then played 16 straight rallies of sideout volleyball before the Huskers held serve on a Foecke kill to go ahead 21-20. Nebraska led 23-22, but a pair of errors gave Penn State set point first at 24-23. After a timeout, Sun kept the Huskers alive with her 13th kill, and Hames served an ace to give NU set point at 25-24. After a Penn State timeout, Sun tipped down her 14th kill to give the Huskers the set, 26-24.
Set 4: After a pair of kills by Sweet to begin the set, Penn State reeled off a 7-0 run including a pair of aces by Kendall White. Foecke produced a kill and a block with Stivrins, and Stivrins then combined with Hames for a block to pull the Huskers within 9-7. The Huskers cut it to one on numerous occasions and finally tied the score at 13-13 on a block by Sweet and Schwarzenbach. Another block by Schwarzenbach made it 14-13 Huskers, and NU went ahead 19-16 after back-to-back kills by Sun. Penn State fought back to take a 22-21 lead after an ace serve by White trickled off the top of the net and dropped. But a service error tied the set at 22-22, and Foecke posted a kill for a 23-22 Husker lead. The Nittany Lions answered with a Reed kill and a block to grab set point at 24-23. A Husker hitting error handed Penn State the 25-23 win.
Set 5: Penn State ran out to a 5-2 lead, but kills by Foecke and Sun cut it to 5-4. The Nittany Lions then scored the next two to go back up by three, 7-4. After Sun pulled the Huskers within 8-6, Penn State scored four of the next five to take a 12-7 lead. The Nittany Lions finished off the match with a 15-9 win.
Up Next: The Huskers are off until next Friday when they visit Madison, Wisconsin for an 8 p.m. match against the eighth-ranked Badgers. NU will then play at No. 3 Minnesota on Saturday at 7 p.m.