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Volleyball: #8 Huskers nip #7 Lions

Revenge was the order of the night for the #8 Nebraska Women’s Volleyball Team with the #7 Penn State Nittany Lions in town.

The Husker Women’s Volleyball team visited rival Penn State as part of a brutal road trip last month. The match was tight, but the Huskers ultimately fell to the Nittany Lions on the road, 3-2. Friday night, the Lions visited the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday night and the Huskers exacted their revenge, knocking the visitors off 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18, 15-8).

Nebraska had twenty blocks on the night. Twenty. That number, along with the 104 digs was critical on a night when the Big Red attack was only able to record a .179 attack percentage. That defense held Penn State to .114 attacking for the night.

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins had part of ten of the Husker blocks and freshman middle Callie Schwarzenbach had part of nine. The seniors Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney accounted for half of the Husker digs with Foecke keeping a career-high 29 balls alive and Maloney digging 23 Penn State attacks.

Sophomore outside Lexi Sun led the team with 16 kills on her way to hitting .111. Foecke hit .234 with 15 kills. Stivrins hit .522 with 13 kills out of the middle. Foecke, Sun, and Stivrins all had double-doubles on the night.

Rotation one, when the setter serves, has been problematic for the Huskers this season so it looked a little different against Penn State. In serve-receive, sophomore Jazz Sweet has been hitting at the left antenna with Foecke staying at the right side. Hitting at the left antenna is a difficult task for a left-handed hitter, so in three of the sets tonight, freshman Capri Davis got reps in that rotation. It was effective for the Huskers, so we’ll see if that continues going forward.

Nebraska’s first ace of the night came in the fifth set and was part of an 8-0 run with Lauren Stivrins serving. The fifth set was close early, then turned into a dominating performance by the Huskers. It was a nice way to end a match that started off with the Huskers losing the first set despite leading 24-21.

Though it was a long match, the 43 total sets to the middles is a nice change in philosophy for the Huskers. The team hasn’t used the middles much offensively which means the opposing block and defense can focus on defending the pin, or outside, attackers. Getting the middles more involved opens up opportunities for the outsides by making the defense stay home a beat longer, meaning there are more chances for kills.

Tonight the Huskers welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to Devaney. That match will be carried live on NET and BTN2Go. First serve is at 7:00 PM Central.