The #6-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers Volleyball team played the first match of a split schedule this weekend to accommodate the high school state volleyball tournament Wednesday night, hosting the Maryland Terrapins at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Nebraska made short work of the visitors with a sweep, 25-11, 25-15, 25-16.
Nebraska hit .406 on the night, led by nine kills from redshirt freshman Laruen Stivrins who hit .636. Annika Albrecht had eight kills to hit .294 and Mikaela Foecke hit .467 with nine kills of her own.
The Husker defense held the Terrapins to .081 hitting with 36 digs and four blocks. MIkaela Foecke led with nine digs and Lauren Stivrins had three block assists on the night.
While it would have been easy to take this match for granted, Maryland has only won five conference matches, one of their conference wins was a five-setter over Purdue, and they took a set off of Wisconsin just before playing the Huskers. Nebraska controlled this match from the outset and pushed their conference win streak to eight matches.
Nebraska still shares the lead in the conference with Penn State, each team having dropped one conference match. Since both teams are shoe-ins to the NCAA tournament, there will be no tie-breaker, and the teams would be co-champions of the B1G if neither team loses again.
The Huskers have a much easier path to finishing a one-loss conference season with Rutgers coming to the Devaney Center for a 2:00 match on Sunday, then a trip through Ohio State, Maryland, and Northwestern before closing at home against Iowa. Penn State closes their B1G season against Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road.
In the selection committee’s top ten, Penn State was the initial #1-seed with Nebraska the #2. If that holds, or if Nebraska remains in the top four, then the first two weekends of the NCAA tournament could be here in Lincoln before the Final Four, which is in Kansas City this year.
The team looks better with every match. The freshmen look less like freshmen as they gain experience and it seems like when one player struggles, the rest of the team picks up the yoke to keep moving forward. This team looks built to take a deep run, as they’re hitting their stride at the right time.