Wisconsin sweeps Husker volleyball in Big Ten home opener


Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

LINCOLN, Neb. – The second-ranked Nebraska volleyball team fell 3-0 (22-25, 21-25, 22-25) to No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 8,393 at the Devaney Center. 

The Huskers (11-2, 3-1 Big Ten) lost for the first time in conference play despite hitting .336 against the Badgers (8-4, 4-0 Big Ten). Wisconsin was even more efficient, hitting .376 and out-serving the Huskers with a 3-0 advantage in aces and three fewer service errors. 

Nebraska fell for the first time in John Cook‘s tenure at Nebraska when hitting .300 or better in a match. The Badgers’ .376 hitting percentage was the best by a Husker opponent since 2011 (Purdue, .410). Offensively, Nebraska’s .336 performance was its third-best outing of the season and was also the second-best hitting percentage by a Wisconsin opponent this season.

Lexi Sun had 15 kills for NU, and Jazz Sweet had 13 kills with a .524 hitting percentage and a team-best three blocks. Lauren Stivrins had nine kills on .727 hitting, and Madi Kubik added nine kills and 10 digs while hitting a career best for the second straight match (.364). 

Nicklin Hames had 42 assists, and Kenzie Knuckles had 10 digs to lead the Big Red. 

Wisconsin (8-4, 4-0 Big Ten) had three players with double-digit kills, and all three hit better than .390. Molly Haggerty had 11 kills, and Dana Rettke and Danielle Hart each had 10 kills. 

Although the Huskers were swept at home for the first time since 2014, they had chances in all three sets as they led 21-20 in set one, led 16-14 in set two and led 20-19 in set three. But the Badgers played cleaner down the stretch in all three sets. The match featured 11 lead changes and 34 tie scores. 

The Huskers are back at home next weekend for a pair of matches. The Big Red hosts Michigan State next Friday at 8 p.m., and Michigan on Sunday at 1 p.m. Friday’s match will be televised on BTN, and Sunday’s match will be televised on ESPN2. Husker Sports Network will broadcast all the action on HSN radio affiliates, Huskers.com and the Huskers app. 

Set 1: NU fell behind 6-3, but two kills by Sun and one by Stivrins brought the Huskers back to a 7-7 tie. After Wisconsin reclaimed a 10-8 lead, Sweet and Kubik responded with three straight kills to put Nebraska ahead 11-10. Kubik and Sun added two more kills to take Nebraska to a 15-12 lead at the media timeout. But Wisconsin charged back with a 6-2 run to take a 19-18 lead. Sweet struck back-to-back kills to put Nebraska on top, 21-20, but Wisconsin scored the next four points to earn set point at 24-21, and the Badgers won 25-22. 

Set 2: The Huskers took an 11-9 lead after Sweet tallied a kill and a block with Schwarzenbach, and Stivrins tacked on a kill. Sun terminated her eighth kill to keep the Huskers up two, 15-13, at the media timeout, but Wisconsin came back to take an 18-16 lead with back-to-back kills and two Husker miscues. NU fell behind 21-18 and couldn’t get closer than two points the rest of the way as Wisconsin earned the 25-21 win. 

Set 3: The Huskers held the upper hand, taking an 11-8 lead with Sweet and Sun leading the way offensively. But the Badgers rallied to tie the set at 13-13. Sweet produced another trio of kills to lead the Huskers to an 18-17 advantage, but the Badgers pulled ahead 23-20 after a 4-0 spurt, and they closed out the match with a 25-22 win.