On Friday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, the #7 Nebraska Cornhuskers played host to the #22 Purdue Boilermakers in the first of four straight home matches for the Huskers. The Huskers took the match over a tough Boilermaker team 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23).
The Huskers started the scoring, going up 2-0 right off the bat, but the Boilermakers answered and tied the score at 2. From that point, Nebraska opened up a 3-point lead at 6-3.
Purdue closed to within one at 6-5, but Nebraska held onto that slight advantage through a few points that looked, frankly, somewhat sloppy. It wasn’t until the score was 9-8 that Nebraska put together another run to take an 11-8 advantage.
The Boilermakers again closed to within a point, 12-11, but couldn’t stay close as the Huskers scored two in a row to open the gap to three again, 14-11. At the media timeout, the Big Red held a 15-12 lead.
Senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht’s attack missed just wide out of the timeout to give the serve back to Purdue.
As had become the pattern of the set, Purdue closed to within one, at 16-15 Huskers. This time, however, Purdue hung around and even managed to tie the score at 18. Two off speed attacks by the Huskers, one from Mikaela Foecke and one from Jazz Sweet, put the Huskers on top 20-18 and led to a Purdue timeout.
Out of the timeout, Purdue got a touch off of the Nebraska block to make the score 20-19 Huskers, but missed the subsequent serve, allowing Nebraska to maintain their advantage.
Three points later Purdue hadn’t made any progress against Nebraska and used their second and final timeout of the set with the Huskers holding a 23-21 advantage.
The Boilermakers struggled with Sydney Townsend’s serve out of the timeout, passing tight to the net and making an easy Husker block to give the Huskers set point, 24-21. Though Purdue withstood one, they couldn’t capitalize the second time and the Huskers prevailed 25-22.
Purdue actually outhit Nebraska in the first set .290 - .237, though the Huskers had 17 kills against 13 from Purdue, and had five blocks to two for the Huskers. Mikaela Foecke led the Husker attack with seven kills hitting .600. Albrecht had four kills and hit .333.
Set two started with a net violation by the Huskers, giving the first point to Purdue. Nebraska answered to tie it, but then gave up the next point to Purdue. A Kelly Hunter/Briana Holman block tied the score again, at two, but Purdue had an answer again and took the 3-2 lead.
The teams traded points, with Purdue holding onto the slim advantage, until the Huskers took their first lead of the set at 6-5.
An Albrecht ace opened the Husker lead up to 8-6, but then Purdue used a three-point run to take the lead back 9-8. Though Nebraska tied it at nine, Purdue scored the next two to take a two-point lead, 11-9, and force a Husker timeout, their first of the set.
Hunter found Holman on the slide out of the timeout to give the serve to Kelly Hunter and halt the Purdue run. The next point fell Purdue’s way, however.
Nebraska tied the score at 12, but Purdue again answered and held on to their slight advantage.
That gap was short-lived, and Purdue again took a two-point lead at 15-13, a lead they would later increase to 18-14. That lead to the Huskers used their second, and final timeout, of the set.
The Purdue attack found the gap in the Husker block after the timeout and increased their advantage to five points at 19-14.
Though the Huskers managed to score and halt the Boilermaker train, it was only temporary, and the Boilermakers returned the favor, holding on to their advantage.
Late in the set, the Huskers seemed to be their own worst enemy. When they’d get a sideout on the Boilermakers, the Huskers would commit the error that would give the ball back to Purdue, including two straight service errors that gave Purdue their first set point, leading 24-19.
The Huskers made a good show of it late, fending off the first two Purdue set points to force the first Purdue timeout of the set. At the time, Purdue held a 24-21 lead.
Out of the timeout, a Husker attack missed wide of the court to give Purdue the set, but a ball that was called touched by the Husker block didn’t appear to be live, and the call was challenged by Coach John Cook. After a brief review, the point remained with the Boilermakers and Purdue took the set 25-21.
Purdue hit .382 in the second set and was outhitting the Huskers .338 - .225 after two. Foecke added three kills in the set and was hitting .444 after two sets. Briana Holman had five kills in the second set to total seven through the first two set and was hitting .333. Purdue also added two more blocks to push their total to seven while Nebraska had three blocks at the intermission.
The third set began with a point that the Huskers refused to lose. Two pancakes by the Husker defense kept the ball alive before Foecke buried a cross-court attack.
The next point also went to the Huskers with Briana Holman finding the floor on an attack off of the slide set from Kelly Hunter.
Nebraska had a 3-0 lead before Hunter Atherton put her serve in the middle of the net to give the visitors their first point of the set.
Purdue tied the set at four when the Huskers put a couple balls too tight for Hunter to handle well, but Nebraska answered with a two-point run to take a 6-4 lead.
The score was tied again at seven, and Purdue took their first lead of the set at 9-8. Purdue extended it to 10-8 on a serve-receive error by the Huskers, but a Lauren Stivrins kill stopped the brief Purdue run.
Albrecht’s serve missed deep to give the ball back to Purdue, but Stivrins answered again to put Hunter Atherton back on the line with the score 11-10 Purdue.
A ball-handling error by the Boilermakers tied the score at 11, but Atherton’s next serve again hit the net handing Purdue the 12-11 lead.
It didn’t get better for the Huskers as Purdue held a 15-12 lead at the media timeout.
Jazz Sweet scored for the Huskers out of the timeout, and then a ball off the Purdue block bounced right to Holman, which she put down in the middle of the Boilermaker defense, and the Huskers had closed to score to 15-14 Purdue.
Nebraska tied the score at 17 before a Purdue attack out of the middle back scored and stopped the Nebraska run. However, a Stivrins kill and Albrecht ace lit Devaney on fire and with the crowd at a deafening level, Purdue used their first timeout of the set with Nebraska leading 19-18.
The crowd was alive again when the Purdue attack was called wide by the line judge, giving the Huskers a 20-18 lead, but Purdue coach Dave Shondell quickly challenged, positing that the ball had landed in the court. The call was overturned and the score was 19-all.
Foecke was called on with the next set from Hunter and she delivered, getting the top of the Purdue block with her swing and sending the ball inaccessibly across the Boilermaker defense. The next Purdue swing missed wide to give the Huskers a 21-19 lead and force the second Boilermaker timeout of the set.
The timeout proved effective for Purdue, as they scored the next point to sideout and gut the Husker lead to one. After Purdue scored the next point, the Huskers used their first timeout of the set with the score tied at 21.
Purdue blocked Foecke’s swing out of the timeout to take the lead 22-21, but missed the next serve to give the Huskers the serve with the score tied at 22.
Though Purdue couldn’t get a swing on the Hunter serve, Holman’s attack found the Boilermaker block to give the lead back to the visitors. Purdue returned the favor on the next point, sailing an attack long and tying the score at 23.
Sweet gave the Huskers set point with a vicious kill out of the right side, but Purdue fought off the first threat after a long rally.
Albrecht earned the second set point for the Huskers by putting a ball high off Purdue’s hands. A mishandled ball by the Boilermakers resulted in a net violation by Purdue and gave the Huskers the set 26-24.
The Huskers hit .279 in the set while holding Purdue to .250. Through three, Purdue was hitting .307 to .246 for Nebraska. Holman and Foecke each had 13 kills after three sets with Holman hitting .474 and Foecke at .281.
Mikaela Foecke scored the first two points of the fourth set to give the Huskers the early lead. The teams then briefly traded sideouts before Nebraska opened a 6-2 advantage. That led to an early Purdue timeout.
Though Purdue scored first out of the timeout, Nebraska answered with another Foecke kill, her fourth of the young set. That kill put Foecke on the service line, but her serve didn’t clear the net.
Purdue scored again to make the score 7-5 Nebraska, but Jazz Sweet put a stop the Boilermaker ambitions and put Kenzie Maloney on the line to serve.
Nebraska opened the lead up to 10-5 before Purdue could sideout, but the Nebraska block came through on the next point and the Huskers maintained their lead.
When Albrecht headed back to serve with the score 12-7 Huskers she again found a way to befuddle the Purdue reception and scored her third ace of the match.
The next Husker server, Hunter Atherton, also notched an ace and once again opened the Husker lead up to six, 15-9, which led to the second and final Purdue timeout of the set. Atherton’s serve out of the timeout missed long.
Again Purdue couldn’t hold serve, as Briana Holman unleashed out of the slide, and the Huskers kept the lead, 16-10.
The next rotation proved fruitful for Purdue, however, as a three-point Boilermaker run resulted in a Husker timeout, their first of the set.
The timeout resulted in a “coach’s point” with the serve by the Boilermakers missing long and the Huskers getting the serve back. However, Purdue Coach Dave Shondell begged to differ and challenged the out call. Review proved the original call right and the ball stayed with Nebraska.
Foecke made a phenomenal one-handed dig completely laid out to keep the next point alive and was rewarded when the Purdue attack missed wide. That gave the Huskers an 18-13 lead.
There was a long delay after a Purdue attack made the score 19-16 Huskers as Coach Cook as Assistant Coach Tyler Hildebrand debated with the officials about whether or not the Purdue attacker had been in the net. The official said the ball was down before the attacker hit the net. Though it was a call that could be challenged, it would not have been overturned if the officials couldn’t see the ball down. Purdue Coach Dave Shondell returned the favor the next point, arguing with the officials that the Nebraska debate had taken too long.
Just when it looked like the Huskers had the set pretty well wrapped up, a three-point Boilermaker run made the score 21-20 Husker and resulted in the final Husker timeout of the set.
The Devaney crowd was again electric as the teams retook the court after the timeout. Kelly Hunter did what she’s done so well so many times and dumped the ball to a place the defense couldn’t get to it and gave the Huskers a 22-20 lead.
Purdue refused to go quietly into the Midwestern night, however, and ran off the next three points to take a 23-22 lead over the home team. The last point of the run, however, Coach Cook challenged the call on the court that the ball was long, arguing the block had touched it. It was a well-used challenge, as the call was reversed and the 23-22 lead now belonged to the Huskers.
An attack by Jazz Sweet found the corner for the Huskers to give the Huskers their first match point. Purdue challenged the call, saying the ball landed out of bounds, but the review was short and the call stayed with the Huskers.
Kelly Hunter served for the match, but the Huskers couldn’t make good on the first match point with the Purdue attack splitting the block and finding the floor in the middle of the Husker defense. An off-speed attack by Foecke did the job on the next point with the Huskers taking the set 25-23 and the match 3-1.
Purdue maintained the advantage in hitting percentage for the night, .328 - .281. However, the Huskers had 65 kills to 61 for the Boilermakers. Foecke had an almost otherworldly night with 20 kills to hit .364. Holman had 15 kills and hit .417. Albrecht also hit double-digits with 10 kills and hit .204.
Albrecht had a double-double on the night, leading the team with 13 of the Huskers’ 49 digs. Foecke and Maloney both had 10 digs. Purdue edged the Huskers with 52 digs on the night.
Purdue also outblocked the Huskers with 11 while Nebraska had 6. Lauren Stivrins had three assisted blocks to lead the team.
Really, in nearly every category, Purdue was the better team tonight. They hit for a higher percentage, committed fewer errors, had more blocks and more digs, but more Husker swings found the floor. The Huskers also served better, with five aces, led by three from Albrecht against nine errors. Purdue managed only two aces and committed ten service errors.
Purdue pushed the Huskers in every set tonight, including taking the second set. Purdue’s a powerful offensive team that was able to convert a lot of points. That gives the team a lot of confidence in big times in big matches. The Huskers overcame great adversity against an excellent team to get this win.
The Devaney crowd was the seventh man in the win tonight. Coach Cook praised the crowd for their role at crucial times throughout the course of the night.
The Huskers continue the homestand Saturday night against Indiana. The first serve of that match will be at 7:30 PM Central.