#5 Nebraska defeats #12 Baylor is straight sets - 25-21, 25-17, 25-19
Nebraska struggled to pass in set one. Baylor focused their serve on libero Kenzie Knuckles. That proved to be a good strategy as Knuckles passed far off the net most of the time. These passes led to predictable sets to the outside for most of the first set. Lexi Sun, Madi Kubik and and Jazz Sweet still were able to produce kills even with big blocks in front of them. This was a good sign.
Baylor led most of the first set. Halfway through Nebraska took the lead 17-16 and the rhythm of the game changed. Sun’s serving was key. She had three aces in set one and the aces continued into set two. Baylor called timeout once Nebraska was up 5-1 in set two. Baylor struggled to pass and their blockers was not pressing over the net so Husker hitters were able to sneak balls through the block.
Kayla Caffey turned to dial up in the second set with a big solo block and followed it by pounding a quick attack into the ground.
The third set was very back and forth. Baylor played with a great deal of energy which meant they dug more balls and hit off Husker hands on the block. Nebraska seemed to stay steady and continue to chip away and toward the end of the set they turned it up a notch and pull away to win the set by 6 points.
In this match, Nebraska served well and targeted the outside hitters for Baylor. This strategy pushed the Baylor offense off the net and forced errors. By the end of the match Nebraska aced Baylor eight times. Five of those aces credited to Lexi Sun; this is a career high for Sun. Baylor was only able to ace Nebraska three times.
Kenzie Knuckles played great defense with 13 digs and Nicklin Hames had 11. For much of the first set, Hames was setting off the net due to poor passing but she put the ball in hittable locations for her outsides and they produced kills. Huskers finished the match with a .222 hitting percentage and held Baylor .141.
Callie Schwarzenbach played in the middle while Lauren Stivrins sat on the sideline in street cloths due to an injury. Schwarzenbach attacked and blocked well. She stepped up into the roll that her coaches asked her to play today. The overall team play was not impacted by Stivrins on the bench except for those first 15 points of set one. They seemed out of sorts and off balance.
When asked about whether Lauren Stivirns will play tomorrow, Coach Cook said “tomorrow is a new day, we’ll see”. Coach said the decision for her not to play against Baylor was made this morning with a team of trainer coach and player input.
Nebraska is in the regional finals for the 9th consecutive year.
Nebraska plays again tomorrow, April 19th against the winner of #4 Texas and #13 Penn State on ESPNU. The match is scheduled 45 minutes after the conclusion of the 11 am CST match. John Baylor and Lauren Cook take to the air at 1 pm CST on Husker Sports Network - Lincoln (B107.3 FM); Omaha (CD 105.9 FM); Huskers.com; Huskers App