Defense Keys Husker Sweep of No. 12 Purdue

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Defense Keys Husker Sweep of No. 12 Purdue

Lincoln – Behind a dominating defensive effort, the No. 13 Nebraska volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-20) sweep over No. 12 Purdue on Wednesday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center before the 213th consecutive sellout crowd.

The Huskers tallied 17 blocks – a three-set season high – to improve to 15-7 overall and 9-4 in the Big Ten. The win moved them into a tie for fourth in the Big Ten standings with the Boilermakers, who dropped to 19-6 overall and 9-4 in conference play.

Meghan Haggerty knocked down a season-best 11 blocks to spark the Huskers, while adding three kills. Her 10 blocks through two sets paved the way for the Huskers to win their third straight match. Kelsey Fien had a match-high 15 kills, while Kadie Rolfzen added nine with 14 digs and six blocks. Amber Rolfzen had six kills, and Cecilia Hall had four kills with five blocks. Mary Pollmiller provided 33 assists with five kills, five blocks and five digs.

The Huskers hit .255 for the match but more importantly held Purdue to its second-lowest hitting percentage of the season at .098. The Boilermakers entered the match third in the Big Ten in hitting percentage at .270 but were held to .057 hitting over the final two sets. Big Ten kills leader Annie Drews finished with a team-high 12.

In set one, the Huskers trailed 13-11 but went on an 8-1 run to go up 19-14, sparked by strong defensive play. Haggerty had three blocks during the stretch. Back-to-back kills by Fien gave NU a 21-15 lead, forcing Purdue’s second timeout of the set. Pollmiller’s third kill of the set added to the lead, 22-15. The Boilermakers reeled off three straight to get within 22-18, but the Huskers maintained distance and Kadie Rolfzen finished off the 25-21 win with her first kill of the match. Nebraska outblocked Purdue 5-1 in the set and outhit the Boilermakers .357 to .188.

The Huskers built a 9-6 lead in the second set after consecutive combo blocks by Haggerty and Pollmiller. Purdue quickly struck back to tie it 9-9 and took a 17-16 lead before a Husker timeout. NU came out of the break with three straight points to go up 19-17, the last of which came on Haggerty’s season-high 10th block. Purdue tied it 19-19 before Sydney Townsend set Fien for a 20-19 Husker lead. With NU up 22-21, Kadie Rolfzen and Fien notched back-to-back kills for set point, and Kadie Rolfzen clinched the 25-22 win with her sixth kill. NU held Purdue – which entered the match with the third-best hitting percentage in the Big Ten – to a .000 clip in the set.

A 5-0 run with the third set tied 8-8 gave the Huskers a 13-8 cushion, with two kills by Fien and back-to-back service aces by Alexa Ethridge. Purdue trimmed the lead to 13-11 with three quick rallies. The Huskers went up 15-13 on a highlight reel play that ended with a Hall solo stuff. A Purdue serve tipped off the net, bounced off Fien’s head and was kicked into the air by a sprawling Kadie Rolfzen before Pollmiller punched it over the net. The Huskers went up four, 22-18, after back-to-back kills by Fien and never let the Boilermakers close the gap.

The Huskers continue their four-match home stretch on Saturday against Indiana at 7 p.m. on NET. Fans are encouraged to wear white to Saturday’s match to “White Out” the Devaney Center.