After the emotional Friday night win over Penn State, the #8 Husker Volleyball team played host to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Knights entered the night winless in B1G play. They left with a donut in the win column as well, as the Huskers cruised 3-0 (25-14, 25-12, 25-13).
After a quick early lead for the Huskers, the Knights tied the score at three, but from that point forward, the Knights couldn’t get closer than three again. Eventually the Huskers took the set on a Callie Schwarzenbach kill 25-14.
The Huskers hit .448 in the first set while limiting Rutgers to .069 with a nice defensive performance. Senior Mikaela Foecke led all attackers with six kills on nine swings to hit .667. Foecke, sophomore Lauren Stivrins, and freshman Callie Schwarzenbach were all error-free as attackers in the first set.
Rutgers actually held the early lead in the second set when Rutgers libero Karysa Swackenberg aced Schwarzenbach to take a 2-1 advantage, a lead they held until a Foecke block bounced in front of the Rutgers attacker.
The Scarlet Knights retook the lead at 6-5, but the Huskers used a 4-0 run to take a 9-6 lead and force Rutgers to use their first timeout of the second set. The momentum didn’t switch sides of the net, though, and the Huskers pushed the lead to 11-6 before Rutgers could sideout.
Although the Knights scored three out of the timeout, Nebraska rolled through the rest of the set, closing it out 25-12.
Nebraska hit .238 in the second. Sophomore outside Jazz Sweet had three kills in the set to lead the Huskers attack that was very balanced. Each hitter had a kill with only Stivrins notching less than two.
Set three started off much like set one, with the Huskers taking a 3-1 lead early, but not being able to shake the Knights at first. After the score was 4-3 Big Red, the Huskers went on a 4-0 run with freshman defensive specialist Megan Miller on the service line to extend the lead to 8-3.
Nebraska held a 13-7 lead when Rutgers challenged a touch call on a Foecke attack. The call was upheld on review, but the Huskers missed their next serve to turn the ball over to the Knights.
Rutgers went on a run after the missed serve, closing the margin to four at 15-11 Big Red. When the Huskers won the sideout, Rutgers called an immediate timeout with the score 16-11 Huskers.
A 5-1 run extended the Husker lead to 21-12 and forced the second Rutgers timeout of the third set. While the Knights did earn a brief reprieve immediately after the timeout, the match ended on two consecutive Sami Slaughter kills.
The Huskers hit .427 for the night while holding Rutgers to .024. Foecke led Nebraska with 11 kills. She had no errant attacks and hit .524. Schwarzenbach, Slaughter, and Foecke were all error-free on their attack for the night.
The Huskers had twelve blocks for the night, led again by Stivrins who had a part in eight of those blocks. The team had 37 digs for the night, while that seems a paltry number compared to last night, the block was keeping balls away for the Huskers, and many Rutgers attacks sailed out of bounds.
Set three saw extensive time for Capri Davis in place of Lexi Sun who had better than 60 swings on Friday night, as well as the late double sub with Brooke Smith in to serve and Sami Slaughter in the front row for setter Nicklin Hames.
While this could have been a trap game, a point driven home pictures of mousetraps placed around the gym during serve and pass today, the fact that Rutgers has been the doormat of the conference this year made that unlikely. The Huskers played better than solid volleyball on the night, and even got players on the court who haven’t had as much of a chance to play this year. After the emotional win on Friday night, playing solid Nebraska volleyball against a bad opponent was a very good sign.
The Huskers spend the next two weeks on the road, including stops at Michigan and Purdue, both ranked teams. The first stop on the road trip is a Wednesday night meeting across the Missouri against Iowa. That game will be televised on BTN at 7:00 PM Central.