After sweeping the #11 UCLA Bruins on Friday night, the #12 Nebraska Huskers Womens’ Volleyball team took on the same team again on Saturday night. The Huskers prevailed again 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-17).
Nebraska opened up a very solid lead early on, leading 10-4 by the time most Husker fans tuned in after the football game. The Huskers led 15-9 at the media timeout.
The Huskers extended the lead on the right arm of Mikaela Foecke and a spectacular pancake by Kelly Hunter to 18-9 which led to a UCLA timeout.
UCLA scored the first point after the timeout, but Nebraska took control again, pushing the lead to 20-10 before UCLA went on a run of their own to close to 20-12.
Nebraska opened the lead up to ten again and maintained that lead, taking the set 25-15.
Set two started with the Bruins taking the first point, but the Huskers took the next one. The teams maintained that pattern until Mikaela Foecke was on the service line. At that point, the Huskers opened up a 5-3 lead.
UCLA fought back to take the one-point service advantage at 8-7 and extended it to 9-7, but Annika Albrecht recorded a kill to give the Huskers the serve, and then followed it up with an ace to tie the score at nine.
Nebraska then took control with Libero Kenzie Maloney on the line and opened the lead up to 13-10 with Foecke swinging away at the outside. UCLA took a timeout to stem the Husker flow.
The strategy didn’t work as Foecke hit an off-speed attack down the line on the first rally out of the timeout. Nebraska switched it up on the next point and Briana Holman tooled the block to make the score 15-10 Huskers.
Nebraska took a 16-10 lead before UCLA blocked the Foecke attack, ending a 9-1 Husker run.
The Bruins used that block to take the momentum back, scoring three straight to close to 16-13 and force a Husker timeout.
The Huskers pushed the lead to four at 21-17, and to five at 23-18. That five point lead led to a UCLA timeout.
UCLA took the first point out of the timeout, but the Huskers took the next two to take set two 25-19.
A Lauren Stivrins kill gave the Huskers the first point of set number three, but UCLA answered right back and then added another to take an early 2-1 lead.
UCLA hung close for a little bit, but Nebraska opened the lead to 11-5 early in the set and forced a UCLA timeout.
UCLA closed the gap slightly out of the timeout, getting to within four at 12-8 Nebraska, but Nebraska then took over again and pushed the lead to 14-8.
Nebraska called a timeout as the Bruins closed the score to 17-12 Nebraska. UCLA closed to 17-13 Huskers, but then a Husker sideout and Jazz Sweet on the right side gave the Huskers momentum and a significant lead.
Eventually the Huskers pushed the lead to 22-13 before UCLA scored two in a row to make the score 22-15 Huskers.
Nebraska took their first set point with freshman Hayley Densberger on the line, 24-15. The Huskers couldn’t finish there, but finally took the Huskers took the set 25-17.
The Huskers hit .301 for the match to .133 for the Bruins. The Huskers we led by Mikaela Foecke’s 12 kills on 33 swings to hit .242. Jazz Sweet added 10 kills on 17 swings to hit .529.
The Huskers were better than the Bruins in every category. Nebraska had 48 digs to 43 for UCLA, seven blocks to five, and had three aces to one. The Huskers also fewer service errors with five against the Bruins’ seven.
The Huskers looked much better this weekend than they had thus far in the year. It would be hard to overstate how important Kelly Hunter is in this offense. With freshman playing vital roles in the offense, the calm hand and experience that the senior setter brings is very important when adversity hits during a set. Kelly put the ball where her hitters could be successful, especially the three outsides. Even though the connection with the middles wasn’t great on Friday night, it seemed that was corrected in a big way Saturday night and the offense was really firing.
The other part of the Kelly Hunter effect was on Annika Albrecht. Albrecht was struggling heading in the UCLA weekend, hitting below .100 for the season. She hit above .400 in both matches against UCLA and she attributed it to the sets from Kelly, libero Kenzie Maloney talking about open shots when she was attacking, and the conversations in the huddle between points. Two of those three show how important Kelly Hunter’s senior leadership is to the Huskers.
Next weekend the Huskers travel to Omaha for the Omaha Challenge. The Big Red plays Kansas State Friday afternoon, and then takes on Northern Iowa Saturday afternoon and Nebraska-Omaha Saturday evening. All matches are at the Baxter Arena.