LINCOLN, Neb. – The No. 5 Nebraska volleyball team got back on the winning track with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-22) win over Michigan State on Friday night in front of a crowd of 8,129 at the Devaney Center.
The Huskers (12-2, 4-1 Big Ten) posted a season-high 14 blocks and held Michigan State to a season-low .038 hitting percentage on the night. Four different Huskers had at least five blocks, and the Huskers held the Spartans to a negative hitting percentage over the final three sets after a slow start to the match. Michigan State scored the last four points of the first set to win it, but the Huskers were dominant in sets two and three and finished off the victory in four sets.
Callie Schwarzenbach led the defensive effort with seven blocks and added four kills. Nicklin Hames had 46 assists and 14 digs. Kenzie Knuckles had a match-high 21 digs. Madi Kubik had 15 digs to go with five kills. Capri Davis came off the bench to produce a career-high five blocks to go with two kills for the Big Red.
The Huskers hit .196 on the night, but their best defensive performance in a Big Ten match this season was more than enough to overcome the Spartans’ upset bid. Both teams had three aces, but Nebraska had 15 more kills (53-38) and 10 more digs (72-62).
Meredith Norris had 11 kills for Michigan State (11-4, 2-3 Big Ten).
Nebraska hosts Michigan on Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 and the Husker Sports Network.
Set 1: Michigan State started strong with a 7-4 lead, but the Huskers roared back with a 4-0 run to take an 8-7 lead. Hames and Schwarzenbach had a block, and Stivrins served an ace before a kill by Sun gave NU its first lead. The Spartans led 10-9 before Nebraska reeled off a 6-0 run to go up 15-10. Kubik had three kills to spark the Huskers, and Schwarzenbach had a kill and a block with Sweet. The Spartans cut it to 15-13, and then the teams sided out for the next 10 rallies. The Spartans then scored four points in a row to go up 21-20. A service error tied the set at 21-21, but Norris terminated for MSU and Molly Johnson and Naya Gros blocked a Husker attempt to make it 23-21. A Husker hitting error gave the Spartans set point, which they finished at 25-21 on a kill by Norris.
Set 2: The Huskers responded well from the first-set loss, taking a 6-0 lead on Hames’ serve with two kills by Sweet, one by Schwarzenbach, and a block by that duo. The lead went to 9-2 after kills by Sun and Sweet. Michigan State chipped away and got within three points at 12-9 and 13-10, but Sun answered each time with a kill. A block by Stivrins and Sweet, and a kill from Davis put the Huskers up 18-13 to force Michigan State’s second timeout. After the Spartans scored the next two points, Stivrins terminated back-to-back kills, and four Michigan State errors led to a 24-15 Husker set point. Kubik served an ace to close out the set at 25-15. The Huskers hit .333 in set two and held Michigan State to -.097 hitting.
Set 3: Nebraska put together a 5-0 run to get out to a 9-5 lead with Stivrins posting a pair of kills and a block with Davis. Sweet, Stivrins, Sun and Kubik combined for seven kills to put the Big Red up 18-10. Sweet then combined with Stivrins for the Huskers’ seventh block of the night, and an MSU hitting error had the Huskers ahead 20-10. Davis added a solo block and a block with Stivrins to make it 22-11, and the Huskers finished off the 25-14 win on a Nicole Drewnick ace serve to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Set 4: Michigan State took a 6-4 lead before a kill by Stivrins and a block by Stivrins and Davis tied the set. Schwarzenbach was in on a pair of blocks, one with Hames and one with Sun, to help the Huskers take the lead before a kill by Sweet made it 11-9. Sun had a kill before another block by Schwarzenbach and Sweet, and Sweet tacked on a kill as NU went up 15-10. Davis rolled a shot to the floor to build the lead to 20-15, and NU finished off the victory, 25-22.