Top-ranked Huskers fall to No. 2 Stanford in championship rematch

Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletic Communications

LINCOLN, Neb. – In a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, it was the second-ranked Stanford Cardinal who was victorious 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-16) over the top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team in front of a school-record crowd of 8,632 at the Devaney Center on Wednesday night. 

The defending national champion Cardinal (6-1) never trailed in sets one and three and led almost the entirety of the fourth set. The Huskers fought back from down eight in set one to get within two points late, and NU won a back-and-forth second set that had five lead changes before Stanford took control of the match in the final two sets. 

Madi Kubik had a career-high 14 kills for the Huskers (7-1). Lexi Sun had nine kills and 14 digs, and Jazz Sweet and Lauren Stivrins also had nine kills. Nicklin Hames posted her fifth double-double this season with 40 assists and 16 digs. Kenzie Knuckles had 15 digs, and Megan Miller had 13 digs along with the Huskers’ only two aces on the night. 

Kathryn Plummer led the Cardinal with 19 kills and four aces. Kendall Kipp added 11 kills, and Madeleine Gates had 10. Jenna Gray had 50 assists and 11 digs to pace the Cardinal to a .294 hitting percentage. The Huskers hit .150 in the match. Stanford had the edge in blocks (12-7) and aces (7-2). NU out-dug Stanford 70-63.

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Set 1: Stanford used a 6-0 run to sprint to an 8-2 lead. The Cardinal continued to lead by six, 12-6, when kills by Sun and Sweet cut it to four, 12-8. But Stanford responded with six of the next eight points to build its biggest lead yet, 18-10. The Huskers put together their best stretch of the set with five straight points off of two kills by Kubik, one by Stivrins and a block by Stivrins and Sweet to cut it to 18-14. After a Stanford timeout, Miller served an ace to make it 18-15. With Stanford up 20-17, Nicole Drewnick stepped in to serve and assisted on a kill by Sun that made it 20-18. Back-to-back kills by Plummer made it 23-19 Cardinal, but Callie Schwarzenbach terminated and Stanford hit wide to cut the lead to two again, 23-21. Plummer then gave Stanford set point with another kill, and Stanford won 25-21. 

Set 2: The teams played evenly throughout the early portion of set two, and NU took its first lead of the match on a kill by Sweet that made it 8-7. Stivrins combined with Kubik for a block and then smashed a kill for a 12-10 Husker lead. Plummer tied the score at 13-13 with a kill and an ace, and Madeleine Gates posted a kill to give Stanford the lead again, 14-13. Capri Davis come off the bench to get a sideout for the Huskers, and a Stanford net violation put NU back in front, 17-16. A solo block by Schwarzenbach made it 18-16 Huskers, and Stanford took a timeout. Out of the break, Sweet tallied a kill for a 19-16 Husker lead. Fitzmorris and Plummer answered with kills for Stanford, but Sweet produced another clutch swing for the Big Red to keep NU on top, 20-18. Plummer and Kubik traded kills, and Miller served her second ace of the night to make it 22-19 Huskers. Fitzmorris posted a kill for Stanford and NU committed back-to-back hitting errors to tie the set at 22-22. Stanford was in the net on the next rally, and a tough serve by Kubik forced a bad pass by Stanford that led to set point for NU at 24-22. Another good serve by Kubik had the same result on the next rally, giving the Huskers the 25-22 win to tie the match.  

Set 3: Stanford scored the first two points of set three and never trailed, pulling ahead 14-8 after a 5-0 spurt. A Husker service error was followed by a Stanford kill and ace, which made it 17-10 Cardinal. Sweet posted a pair of kills for the Big Red, but Stanford remained comfortably in front and won the set, 25-17. 

Set 4: Davis and Sweet got the Huskers off to a strong start with kills, but Stanford responded with a 3-0 run to take the lead. The Huskers tied the set at 7-7 after a kill by Sun, but Stanford went on a 12-2 run to go up 19-9 and take control. The Cardinal finished out the win, 25-16. 

Up Next: Nebraska is back at home on Saturday, hosting Wichita State at 3 p.m. at the Devaney Center