LINCOLN, Neb. – The No. 8 Nebraska volleyball team won its first match against a top-10 team this season with an entertaining 3-2 (25-18, 18-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13) victory against No. 7 Penn State in front of a crowd of 8,373 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday night.
Lexi Sun led the Huskers (18-3, 10-2 Big Ten) with 20 kills, seven digs and four blocks, as Nebraska ended Penn State’s eight-match winning streak. The Huskers hit .210 and held Penn State to .166, its lowest hitting percentage in a Big Ten match this season.
Four Huskers reached double figures in kills, with Madi Kubik adding 15 kills and nine digs, Lauren Stivrins posting 14 kills on .308 hitting, and Jazz Sweet chipping in 13 kills. NU tied its season high with 14 blocks, led by Callie Schwarzenbach’s season-high nine.
The Huskers led in digs, 85-75, with freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles providing a career-high 24 and Nicklin Hames hitting a season high with 22. Hames also had 54 assists on 66 Husker kills. Megan Miller had a season-best 18 digs as well.
The match was the fourth straight meeting between the two teams that went the distance, and the seventh time in the last 10 meetings.
Jonni Parker led Penn State with 16 kills, and Tori Gorrell had 12.
The Huskers host Northwestern on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Set 1: The Huskers held a 4-3 lead before Penn State scored five points in a row, four of them via kills, to go up 8-4. Schwarzenbach posted a pair of blocks and a kill as the Huskers pulled within 9-8. Kubik, Sweet and Sun tacked on kills for a 12-11 Husker lead, and Kubik and Stivrins went back-to-back to make it 14-12. Schwarzenbach and Sweet teamed up for a block to take the lead to three, 18-15, and a bump set by Hames from across the court led to a Kubik kill that made it 19-15 Huskers. After a Penn State timeout, Sweet put away her fourth kill and then combined with Schwarzenbach for another block to extend the lead to six, 21-15. Penn State never got closer than five again, as the Huskers won 25-18. NU hit .406 in the set and held Penn State to .091. The Huskers had five blocks, led by four from Schwarzenbach.
Set 2: The Nittany Lions opened up a 7-3 lead to begin set two, but the Huskers chipped away with kills by Kubik, Stivrins and Sun to cut it to 8-7. Penn State went back up by three, but three straight hitting errors tied the score at 13-13. Gorrell started a 4-0 Penn State run with a pair of kills to put PSU ahead 17-13, After a Husker timeout, Stivrins and Sun tallied kills to slice the deficit in half, but the Huskers then hit long on back-to-back plays to restore a four-point Penn State lead. The Nittany Lions evened the match with a 25-18 win, closing the set on a 5-1 run.
Set 3: Nebraska battled to an 11-9 lead after a 4-1 spurt, sparked by a block by Schwarzenbach and Sweet and kills from Kubik and Stivrins. Sweet made it 12-10 before Stivrins recorded back-to-back kills for a 14-10 advantage. The Nittany Lions chipped away and pulled within 17-16, but a service error and attacking error on the next two rallies put the Huskers ahead 19-16. After Penn State got within one again at 21-20, Kubik terminated a kill to keep the Huskers in front, and Hames and Stivrins followed with a block to make it 23-20 Big Red. A service error gave Nebraska set point, and a block by Stivrins and Hames ended the set with NU on top, 25-21.
Set 4: Penn State doubled up the Huskers early, 8-4. Nebraska charged back with kills by Stivrins and Sun to pull within 9-8, but Penn State rebuilt its lead to 13-10. Sweet earned sideout for the Huskers before Stivrins stuffed an attack by Kaitlyn Hord, and Stivrins and Schwarzenbach terminated back-to-back kills to tie the score at 15-15. Sun and Schwarzenbach combined for the Huskers’ 11th block of the night, and Sun swung her 16th kill to give NU an 18-17 lead, its first lead in the set since 2-1. But Penn State scored four of the next five to regain a 22-19 lead, and the Nittany Lions won 25-21 on back-to-back aces by Keeton Holcomb to end it.
Set 5: Back-to-back kills by Kubik and a service error by Penn State had Nebraska up 5-3 early. Stivrins and Sun tacked on consecutive kills to make the lead three at 7-4, and the Huskers led 8-5 at the crossover after Stivrins’ 14th kill. After the break, Hames posted a solo block on Serena Gray, and a Penn State hitting error gave NU a 10-5 advantage. But a kill by Gray and three straight blocks by the Nittany Lions cut NU’s lead to 10-9. The Huskers ended Penn State’s run with a block by Schwarzenbach and Sun, and and the duo followed with another block to make it 12-9 Huskers. Sun’s 20th kill made it 13-10, and Sweet earned match point at 14-11 with her 13th kill. Kaitlyn Hord kept Penn State alive with a kill and a block to trim the lead to 14-13. A kill by Kubik ended the match at 15-13.