Huskers Sweep Omaha to Finish Non-Conference Play
OMAHA, Neb. - The 10th-ranked Nebraska volleyball team concluded the Omaha Challenge with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-13) sweep of the Omaha Mavericks in front of a crowd of 5,351 at Baxter Arena on Saturday night. Nebraska, UNI and Kansas State finished the tournament with 2-1 records, but the Huskers won the tournament via tiebreaker as the only team to have swept the other common opponent, UNO.
The Huskers finished non-conference play with a 7-3 record and will begin Big Ten play at No. 2 Penn State next Friday. UNO fell to 3-10 overall. The Mavericks came ready to play and led for almost the entirety of set one, even earning set point at 24-23. But the Huskers didn't panic and rallied to score the final three points of the set before going on to dominate sets two and three.
Annika Albrecht led the Huskers for the second time on the day with 15 kills on .375 hitting. She added eight digs and a pair of blocks. Albrecht was named co-MVP of the tournament. Briana Holman had eight kills and two blocks, while Lauren Stivrins had seven kills and four blocks. Jazz Sweet added seven kills on .462 hitting.
Kelly Hunter had 37 assists and nine digs while leading the Huskers to a .327 hitting percentage. Hunter and Stivrins were also named to the all-tournament team. Over the last two sets, Nebraska hit .450. Kenzie Maloney had 14 digs as the Huskers won the digs battle, 48-34.
UNO was led by Mackenzie Horkey's nine kills. The Huskers held the Mavs to .118 hitting.
Set 1: The Huskers fell behind 5-1 due to four unforced hitting errors. A kill by Albrecht started a 4-0 Husker that tied the set at 5-5 when Sweet tapped a kill down. The Mavs went back ahead 8-5 before Sweet terminated again. Omaha continued to lead 13-10 after three Husker service errors and a block by Horkey and Bella Sade. The Mavs pushed their lead to five, 16-11, shortly after the media timeout. Albrecht stepped up with the Huskers down 18-14 as she pounded two kills and got a block with Stivrins to cut it to 18-17 and force a UNO timeout. Later, Stivrins added a kill and Omaha hit wide to even the set at 19-19. The Mavs went back in front, 22-20, on an ace by Sydney O'Shaughnessy. The Mavs committed a pair of hitting errors to level the score at 23-23. The Mavs gained set point at 24-23 on a kill by Meagen Roth. After a timeout, Mikaela Foecke put down a kill after the Huskers were initially denied twice at the net, and UNO hit wide for set point for NU at 25-24 its first lead since 1-0. Albrecht finished the job for the Big Red with her sixth kill. Nebraska hit .159 in the set but held Omaha to .000.
Set 2: The Huskers came out sharper in set two and used three kills by Stivrins to go up 13-6. Foecke also had two kills to spark Nebraska to the early advantage. The Huskers continued to pile on kills with Stivrins, Hunter and Holman adding three in a row to help Nebraska to an 18-9 lead via a 4-0 run. Holman produced another kill and a block with Stivrins for a 23-12 advantage, and the Big Red cruised to a decisive 25-15 victory after a nail biter of a first set.
Set 3: Sweet sparked the Huskers in the third set with three kills and a block as Nebraska went ahead 7-2. After UNO cut it to 10-8, Holman blasted three kills along with one by Albrecht for a 14-8 lead. But Holman was injured on the next rally and had to leave the match while freshman Chesney McClellan stepped in for the first playing time of her career. Albrecht carried the attack for the Huskers with three kills to lift NU to an 18-9 lead. Another kill by Albrecht started a 4-0 run that included a block by Stivrins and Hunter, a kill by Hunter and an ace by Albrecht, as NU went up 23-11. Stivrins earned match point for the Huskers at 24-12, and Olivia Boender ended the match at 25-13 with her first kill of the evening. NU outscored UNO 15-5 over the last 20 rallies.
Up Next: Nebraska begins Big Ten play on the road next weekend. The Huskers will play at No. 2 Penn State on Friday and at Rutgers on Saturday.
Annika Albrecht, Nebraska (Co-MVP)
Heather Hook, UNI (Co-MVP)
Kendyl Sorge, UNI (Best Libero)
Kelly Hunter, Nebraska
Lauren Stivrins, Nebraska
Piper Thomas, UNI
Bryna Vogel, Kansas State
Mackenzie Horkey, Omaha