On Friday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, the #12-ranked Nebraska Huskers Womens’ Volleyball team hosted the first of two matches against the #11 UCLA Bruins. The Huskers prevailed on the night 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-20).
The Huskers opened up a quick early lead, going up 6-2 on the Bruins with Kelly Hunter running the Husker offense alone, the first time we’ve seen Kelly run a 5-1 this season. The Huskers and the Bruins traded points and the Huskers held the advantage at 8-4 before a Bruin run closed the score to 8-7 Nebraska.
After exchanging sideouts, senior Annika Albrecht took the serve for the Huskers and extended the Husker advantage to 11-8 before a Mac May ball found the floor for UCLA.
Neither team could make any meaningful headway from that point to the media timeout. At the timeout, the Huskers led 15-12 over the Bruins.
Albrecht rolled a shot to the middle of the Bruin defense out of the timeout, and freshman Jazz Sweet followed up the next point with a cross-court kill out of the right side to put the Huskers up 17-12 and force the first UCLA timeout of the first set.
It was only a Husker net violation that could stop the Husker run, which extended the Husker lead to 18-12. However, Jazz Sweet put away the next ball and the Huskers had Hayley Densberger, a freshman from Malcolm, Nebraska, serving with a 19-13 lead.
The Huskers kept the pressure on and UCLA seemed incapable of answering the Nebraska onslaught. Densberger’s serve was difficult for the Bruins to handle and UCLA used their second timeout of the set with the score 21-13 Huskers.
UCLA continued to struggle with Densberger’s serve, sending a ball right back to Jazz Sweet, though her attack didn’t find the floor the Huskers won the point. The following point, UCLA’s serve-receive also couldn’t get the ball cleanly to the setter, but a tip on a UCLA attack gave the ball to the Bruins.
The Bruins could not hold serve, however, and the Huskers finished the set off 25-15.
Nebraska hit .286 in the first set to .093 for UCLA. Two Bruin hitters hit in the negative for the set, while three Husker attackers, Lauren Stivrins (.429), Briana Holman (.400), and Albrecht (.571) hit at or above .400. The Huskers had no aces, but also committed no errors serving in the set. The Huskers had two blocks to three for UCLA.
Set two started off with Mikaela Foecke putting a rocket cross-court to score the first Nebraska point. The Huskers then extended the lead to two at 3-1, but UCLA tied it up shortly thereafter at 5-5.
A Jazz Sweet hitting error gave UCLA their first lead of the night at 6-5, which they extended to 7-5 before Husker Coach John Cook used the first timeout of the second set.
Lauren Stivrins got the first set out of the timeout and sent the ball deep for the Huskers, extending the Bruin lead. Eventually, UCLA took a 10-5 lead before the Huskers could sideout.
The Huskers answered with a run of their own, closing the Bruin lead to one at 10-9 before a high attack off the Husker block gave UCLA a sideout.
UCLA opened the lead up to three again at 14-11, but the Huskers answered quickly and tied the score at 14 and then re-took the lead 15-14.
A Foecke kill inside the Bruin block extended the Nebraska lead to 16-14 and forced UCLA to use their first timeout of the second set.
It was only a Foecke roll shot that just missed the corner that stopped the Husker run. In the end, it was an 8-0 Nebraska run that flipped an 14-11 Bruin lead into a 19-14 Husker advantage.
UCLA closed to within three at 21-18, but it was all the closer they’d get in the set. After a UCLA timeout with the Huskers leading 23-19 the teams traded sideouts and the Huskers took the set 25-21.
UCLA hit better better in the second set while Nebraska hit worse. The Huskers hit .205 in set two and the Bruins hit .114. Foecke had nine kills through two for the Huskers and was hitting .292 while Albrecht had seven kills and was hitting .333 and Stivrins was hitting .267 with seven kills.
Neither team had recorded an ace through the first two sets, a testament to the serve-receive of both programs, and the Huskers had only two service errors while UCLA had four. The Huskers had four blocks and UCLA had seven.
Set three started off with a missed connection between Kelly Hunter and Lauren Stivrins on a slide attack, giving UCLA the first point. UCLA took the second point on a Husker block that hit the antenna, but then Mac May put the ball in the middle of the net on her serve to give the Huskers the point and the serve.
Nebraska quickly tied the score at two when the UCLA attack sailed long, but gave the ball back to the Bruins when Kenzie Maloney put her serve in the middle of the net.
The sideouts went back and forth with UCLA holding the one-point advantage on their serve until the Bruins opened up a 6-4 lead.
The Huskers tied the score with Sydney Townsend serving at 7 and then took a lead which they opened to 10-7 before UCLA used their first timeout of the third set. The Huskers earned the next point out of the timeout to extend the lead to 11-7.
With the Huskers leading 12-10, a Foecke attack sailed long, but Coach Cook challenged the call, believing the the Bruins had touched the ball. The video was inconclusive, so the call stood in UCLA’s favor, making the score 12-11 Huskers.
UCLA kept the score close, helped by Husker errors, but the Huskers opened the lead up again on a Mikaela Foecke ace, the first of the night for either team. A Jazz Sweet/Briana Holman block gave the Huskers a 17-13 lead.
Briana Holman was blocked on two straight attempts to allow the Bruins to close to within two at 17-15 with Nebraska still holding the lead.
With Sydney Townsend on the service line, Nebraska pushed the lead to 20-16 and forced the second and final Bruin timeout of the third set.
Albrecht ended a long rally after the timeout with tool off the UCLA block to grow the lead to 21-16, but the Bruins answered with a point of their own to make the score 21-17 Huskers.
UCLA never got closer than three as the Huskers closed out the set 25-20 to take the match 3-0.
Nebraska hit .230 for the night while holding UCLA to .097. It wasn’t due to blocking however, as the Bruins outblocked the Big Red 10-5.
The Huskers had 48 kills to 32 by the Bruins. Nebraska was led by 13 kills from Mikaela Foecke who hit .237. Albrecht was right behind her, notching 12 kills and hitting .400. Jazz Sweet had nine kills and hit .250.
The Huskers had 62 digs on the night, led by 15 from both Maloney and Albrecht. UCLA had 56.
The teams will run it back and play another on Saturday night at Devaney. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 CDT.