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NCAA Volleyball First Round: #5 Nebraska Sweeps Stony Brook

Gallery: Volleyball Opens Home Schedule with a Bang

The first round of the 2017 NCAA Volleyball Tournament kicked off on Thursday night, but the first matches at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, NE were Friday night. The early match pitted the Washington State Cougars of the PAC-12 Conference and the Florida State Seminoles of the ACC. The Cougars advanced 3-1 (34-32, 25-14, 23-25, 25-13).

Nebraska made quick work of the America East Conference Champion Stony Brook Seawolves 3-0 (25-10, 25-14, 25-12) to set a Saturday night date with the Cougars at 7:00 PM at Devaney.

The second match of the night started with a Lauren Stivrins kill, a Kelly Hunter-Briana Holman block and then a Kenzie Maloney ace to give the Huskers a quick 3-0 lead. Stony Brook started their scoring by tooling the Husker block to make the score 3-1 Huskers.

Another 3-1 run by the Huskers led to the Seawolves’ first timeout of the set with the score 6-2 Huskers. Though Mikaela Foecke’s serve out of the timeout was errant, that was all the closer Stony Brook would get. Stony Brook used their second and final timeout of the set trailing 15-6.

The Huskers opened the lead to 22-8 before a 2-0 run by the Seawolves led to the Huskers using their first timeout of the set leading 22-10.

Out of the timeout, a Jazz Sweet kill followed by a Hayley Densberger serve handed the Huskers their first set point which they capitalized on immediately with an Annika Albrecht kill to take the first set 25-10.

Nebraska hit .424 in the first set while holding Stony Brook to .074. Albrecht led a balanced Husker attack with five kills on eleven swings hitting .455. Foecke had four kills on six swings to hit .667. The Huskers had four blocks with Lauren Stivrins leading the way, notching three block assists.

Set two started with a Husker point when the Seawolves attack missed wide on the cross-court swing. Albrecht followed that up with a kill out of the back row and then an ace to again give the Huskers 3-0 lead.

The Huskers took a 4-0 lead before the Seawolves could score their first point of the set. Like the first set, the Huskers established themselves early and didn’t let off on the visitors from Long Island. Though the Seawolves got close again at 8-5, Huskers attack was too much for the America East Conference Champs.

Stony Brook took their first timeout of the set trailing 12-6 to the Huskers. The teams fought through a drawn-out rally out of the timeout with Stony Brook ultimately prevailing on an attack off the Husker block.

Nebraska slowly opened up the lead again from that point, leading by eight, 18-10, when the Seawolves used their second and final timeout of the second set.

Though they had a couple of great plays through the end of the set, the Seawolves dropped the set with the Huskers winning 25-14.

The Huskers hit .300 in the second set and were hitting .365 after two sets. Albrecht added three more kills and was hitting .400 with eight kills through two sets. Foecke was hitting .600 with six kills after two.

Nebraska had five more blocks in set two and had nine overall. All nine Husker blocks were assisted with Stivrins continuing to lead the way with six.

Lauren Stivrins led off set three with a beautiful kill down the line off a slide attack to give the Huskers the first point, but Kenzie Maloney missed the next serve and the score was tied at one.

After Nebraska opened the lead up to 3-1, Stony Brook answered with two of their own and tied the set at three. Nebraska took a 4-3 lead, but the Seawolves tied it again at four.

The Seawolves were forced into their first timeout of the third set as Nebraska went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-4 lead in the early part of the set.

Freshman defensive specialist Hayley Densberger kept the Husker run alive with an ace out of the timeout, and Annika Albrecht added a decisive kill to extend the Big Red’s lead to 11-4.

Densberger’s serving run ended with the score 13-5 Huskers, a 9-1 run after the score was tied at four.

With the Huskers leading 17-8, Sami Slaughter subbed in for Mikaela Foecke giving the freshman outside hitter her first action in the NCAA Tournament.

Senior middle blocker Allie Havers saw the court for Lauren Stivrins with the Huskers leading 21-11. Devaney jumped to its feet when she subbed in and leapt up again when she got her first collegiate kill on the next point, a decisive ball out of the middle, to make the score 22-11 Nebraska. Coach Cook made a special point to call out the Havers kill and the Devaney energy when she “super thumped” it (a direct quote from Albrecht).

Havers did it again to give the Huskers their first matchpoint up 24-12. That point also saw freshman Anezka Szabo get action for Kelly Hunter, making Sydney Townsend the setter. The Huskers took the point, winning the set 25-12 and the match 3-0.

The Huskers hit .471 in the final set, led again by Albrecht who added five more kills to make her total on the night 14. She hit .500 on the night and the team hit .402. Foecke added nine kills and hit .600.

Defensively the Huskers looked really good with nine blocks and 49 digs. Both Kelly Hunter and Sydney Townsend had ten digs on the night. Stivrins led the blockers with six block assists.

The Huskers’ greatest challenge on Saturday night will be stopping Washington State’s Taylor Mims. Mims had 79 attacks in the early match Friday night, converting 28 of them to kills. No other Cougar hitter had as many swings as Mims had kills.

The block looked to be working well for the Huskers against Stony Brook, though it can be hard to tell in these early round matches. Husker hitters were eating, though. The hitters seemed to be clicking well with the sets, giving them a great chance to find their way around the Seawolves’ block.

The Huskers’ second-round match against Washington State will air on NET in Nebraska and will be streamed on BTN2Go elsewhere. The first serve is scheduled for 7:00 PM CST.