LINCOLN, Neb. – The second-ranked Nebraska volleyball team rebounded from its season-opening loss to No. 7 Florida with a 25-21, 25-21, 26-24 sweep of No. 18 Oregon at the VERT Challenge in front of a crowd of 8,135 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday night.
Mikaela Foecke had 15 kills and hit .375 on an error-free night to lead the Huskers. Foecke had a double-double with 11 digs and was an all-tournament team selection. The Huskers rallied from deficits of 6-1 and 20-17 in the first set to win 25-21 and pulled away midway through set two for a second straight 25-21 win. After a strong start in set three, the Huskers still found themselves down 21-18 late but came up clutch to tie the set at 22-22 and eventually win 26-24.
Foecke was one of three Husker attackers without an error on the night. Callie Schwarzenbach had six kills on .667 hitting with no errors. Sami Slaughter had four kills without an error on 15 swings. Jazz Sweet added eight kills, and Lauren Stivrins had five kills and a key ace late in the third set.
Nicklin Hames put up 35 assists with nine digs and an ace, while Kenzie Maloney had a team-high 16 digs. Nebraska hit .246 for the match and held Oregon to .176. The Huskers committed just 12 attacking errors one day after committing 30.
Oregon (0-2) got 11 kills from Lindsey Vander Weide and eight each from Willow Johnson and Brooke Van Sickle.
Set 1: Oregon got off to a quick start, taking a 6-1 lead. The Huskers chipped away at the lead, pulling within 9-7 on a Foecke kill. But Oregon reeled off a 3-0 run to take a 15-9 lead at the media timeout. After the break, an Oregon service error kick-started a 3-0 Husker spurt, capped by a Stivrins solo block and a kill by Sweet. After an Oregon sideout, Stivrins and Foecke terminated on consecutive shots to pull NU within one, 17-16. Oregon held on to its lead, though, as Johnson put down a kill to make it 20-17 Ducks. After a timeout, Nebraska ripped off a 7-0 run with Hames serving to go up 24-20. Foecke started the run with a kill and a block, and Megan Miller sent a ball over for a kill before Oregon hit long to give the Huskers their first lead of the match at 21-20. The Ducks committed two more errors on the next two rallies to make it 23-20 Huskers. After Oregon used its second timeout, Sweet terminated for set point, and the Huskers won 25-21 on an Oregon service error. Despite hitting just .105, the Huskers held Oregon to .119 hitting and benefitted from seven Oregon service errors, while the Huskers committed just two.
Set 2: Oregon took a 6-5 lead after three straight points. But the Huskers answered with a 5-1 run to go up 10-7, sparked by Stivrins and Foecke kills and aided by three Oregon attacking errors. Schwarzenbach tacked on two more kills and Foecke had one as Nebraska went ahead 13-9. Sami Slaughter put down back-to-back kills to make it 17-11 Big Red and force an Oregon timeout. After the Ducks got within three, Slaughter terminated again, and the Huskers went ahead 20-15 on a kill by Stivrins. Foecke added two more kills and Sweet had one as the Huskers closed out the 25-21 win. The Husker offense finally got untracked as they hit .412 with 16 kills and two errors on 34 attacks.
Set 3: Foecke pounded two more kills around a Hames service ace for a quick 3-0 lead, but Oregon answered with a 4-0 run to take the lead. The Huskers responded with the next five points to go up 8-4, keyed by kills by Sweet and Schwarzenbach and a block by the duo. Oregon bounced back to tie the set at 12-12, but a pair of attacking errors restored a 14-12 Husker edge. Oregon regained an 18-17 lead on back-to-back kills by Van Sickle and Vander Weide. The Ducks went up by three, 21-18, after back-to-back Vander Weide kills. An Oregon service error made it 21-19, and the Ducks failed to connect on an attack to bring NU within one. Oregon sided out before Foecke did the same, and Stivrins served an ace to level the score at 22-22. Vander Weide and Foecke traded kills, and then Van Sickle and Foecke traded kills to bring the score to 24-24. Oregon hit wide to give the Huskers match point, and Foecke nearly served an ace before Sweet tooled the block for match point.
Up Next: The Huskers host the Ameritas Players Challenge next Friday and Saturday. Nebraska will play Ohio at Noon and Wake Forest at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and Santa Clara at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
2018 VERT Challenge All-Tournament Team
Mikaela Foecke, Nebraska
Allie Gregory, Florida
Thayer Hall, Florida
Morgan Johnson, Texas (MVP)
Willow Johnson, Oregon
Sydney Peterson, Texas
Mikaya White, Texas