The No. 5 Nebraska volleyball team capped an unbeaten weekend with a 3-1 win over Santa Clara to win the Ameritas Players Challenge title in front of a crowd of 8,047 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers (4-1) dominated set one, 25-13, before slipping in set two and falling 21-25. But the Big Red recovered emphatically to win the final two sets, 25-9 and 25-15. Jazz Sweet led all players with 14 kills on .345 hitting with four blocks, and Mikaela Foecke had 10 kills, 10 digs and three ace serves to earn tournament MVP honors.
Capri Davis came off the bench to chip in eight kills on .375 hitting with three blocks, while Callie Schwarzenbach had a career-high nine blocks to lead the defensive effort. Lauren Stivrins added seven kills and three blocks along with two more aces. Stivrins and libero Kenzie Maloney, who had nine digs, were also named to the all-tournament team.
Freshman setter Nicklin Hames produced her third double-double in five matches with 37 assists and 13 digs. She also had five kills and served three aces.
The Huskers out-hit Santa Clara (4-3) .291 to .059 and had a 12-7 edge in blocks and 10-2 advantage in aces. The Huskers also posted 10 more digs (47 to 37).
Michelle Shaffer led the Broncos with eight kills.
Set 1: Sweet had three kills early on to help the Huskers to a 5-3 lead. The Huskers strung together four straight kills, three from Foecke, as part of an 8-0 run on Stivrins’ serve that made it 16-6 Huskers. NU went up 22-10 after a 4-0 spurt and finished off the 25-13 win, out-hitting the Broncos .519 to .074.
Set 2: The Huskers cruised to a 6-1 lead to begin the second frame, as Sweet pounded two more kills. Santa Clara rallied to tie the set at 8-8 after a 5-0 run, but Schwarzenbach was in on two blocks and assisted a Hames kill to help restore a 13-10 Husker lead. NU led 15-11, but the Broncos answered with a 4-0 spurt to tie the set at 15-15. Santa Clara went ahead 21-16 as part of a 10-1 run that included three blocks and a service ace. Sweet sided out for the Huskers to make it 21-17, and Stivrins stuffed a Bronco attack to make it 21-18. After a Santa Clara timeout, Hayley Densberger served an ace to get the Big Red within two, but a net violation and SCU kill put the Broncos back ahead 23-19. The Broncos evened the match with the 25-21 win.
Set 3: Nebraska regrouped after the intermission and began set three on a 10-3 run. Sweet sparked the Huskers with three kills and a pair of blocks. Nebraska went on a 9-0 run to take a 24-7 lead with Foecke contributing a kill and an ace. Sweet finished off the set in NU’s favor, 25-9, with her 13th kill. The Huskers rebounded to hit .435 in set three and held Santa Clara to -.103 hitting with just six kills.
Set 4: The Huskers carried their momentum into the fourth set, taking an 8-1 lead with three blocks by Schwarzenbach and a Hames ace serve. After Santa Clara pulled within 12-7, Stivrins and Foecke blasted kills, and Stivrins served an ace to spark a 7-2 spurt that NU in front 19-9 and in control for the rest of the match.
Up Next: Nebraska hits the road for the first time this season when it travels to play Creighton on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the CHI Health Center Omaha. The match will be televised on NET and streamed online for free at netnebraska.org.
2018 Ameritas Players Challenge All-Tournament Team
Mikaela Foecke, Nebraska (MVP)
Kenzie Maloney, Nebraska (Best Libero)
Lauren Stivrins, Nebraska
Michelle Shaffer, Santa Clara
Lilliana Light, Santa Clara
Lauren Park, Ohio
Caitlyn Della, Wake Forest