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Nebraska Digs in on Defense to Defeat Illinois

Lexi Sun is steady and solid in her first start since September

Nebraska 3 vs Illinois 0- 25-20, 25-20, 25-21

Nebraska came into set 1 firing shots and blocking balls. Illinois had little answer until late in set 1. They seemed to get their feet under them and begin to push back on the Husker offense.

Illinois, in turn, was the team that came out firing in set 2. Illinois blocked and dug and then blocked some more. The Illini continued to swing away and earn kills until Nebraska defense picked up. Lexi Rodriguez was suddenly everywhere and balls stopped hitting the ground on the Nebraska side of the court. She finished with 14 digs tonight, but was out paced by fellow back rower Keonilei Akana with 15. Behind this defensive play, Nebraska clawed back and won the set 25-20, after being down 15-19.

There were two strategic changes tonight for Nebraska. Lexi Sun started on the outside in the place of Ally Batenhorst. Sun was a steady performer all night providing multiple key plays in the match. She had big blocks and hit aggressively. She finished with 11 kills hitting .303.

She did the job that she needed to do to get the win, and showed that she can do the job that this team had needed this outside hitter position to do all season. It is something that has been missing so far from the L2; get kills when the team needs on, block her position, and play excellent defense behind the block. Does that mean she keeps starting?

Yes, look for Sun to be the starter against Ohio State on Saturday, and moving forward.

Mady Kubik also had 11 kills hitting .250. Kayla Caffey added 8 kills and Lauren Stivirns 7. Speaking of Stivrins, she served tonight. Normally Anni Evans comes in to serve for Stivrins. Coach left Stivrins in to serve.

While she delivered many good serves through the match, Stivrins saved the best for late in set 3, where she served 2 aces to bring the Huskers within two points of the win. Oh, and let’s not forget the 3 digs for Lauren Stivrins tonight!

There were many solid individual performances tonight but the best part of this win was the response by the entire team to being down early in set 2. They responded, picked up the play and found a way to win.

Nebraska concludes its road trip at #7 Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 6, with first serve set for 6 p.m. CT at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio. The match will be streamed on Big Ten Network+, and John Baylor and Lauren Cook West will also have the radio call on Huskers Radio Network.

Ohio State lost to Minnesota in four sets tonight. They showed moments of amazing play. There were long rallies and tons of defense between these two teams. I expect the rallies will go long with Nebraska as well.