East Lansing, Mich. - The Nebraska volleyball team (18-5, 10-4) dropped a five-set (13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-23, 15-17) heartbreaker to the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday evening.
The Huskers trailed 1-0 in the match and came back to even the match at two sets apiece twice before eventually falling in the fifth. With the loss, the Huskers dropped back-to-back conference matches for the first time since 2009.
Gina Mancuso led the Huskers for the second-straight night, recording 20 kills and six digs for NU. Meghan Haggerty notched nine kills, while Morgan Broekhuis had seven and Hayley Thramer notched six. Lauren Cook tabbed 49 assists for NU and Lara Dykstra led Nebraska defensively with 16 digs.
The Huskers hit .188 in the match, while Michigan State tallied a .283 hitting percentage. NU was out-dug 55-49 and was out-blocked 14-9.
Nebraska took a 6-2 lead in the first set on an ace by Mancuso, as the Huskers and Spartans were all tied up at 10-10. MSU strung together three straight points, taking a 13-10 lead and forcing Nebraska to call a timeout. The run did not stop as MSU then went up 16-10 on NU. Nebraska could not muster enough offense to take down the Spartans in the first set, falling 25-13.
Mancuso had three kills for NU in the first set, while Broekhuis had two. Cook tabbed seven assists, but the Huskers hit -.036. Michigan State hit .417 in the first set and totaled two team blocks, as NU had zero.
The Huskers and Spartans battled early in the second set, as the two teams tied at 5-5 on a kill by Broekhuis, while Cook gave Nebraska an 11-8 lead. Mancuso tied the set at 16-16, as Cook put NU up 18-17. Fien notched a kill as the Huskers took a 20-19 lead, but MSU came back to tie the set at 21-21. Alicia Ostrander then came in for NU and recorded a kill as the Huskers went up 22-21. Mancuso notched a solo block of her own for a 24-22 lead as she then powered the Huskers to the 25-23 second-set win.
Mancuso and Broekhuis both had three kills in the second set, while Fien notched two. Cook had 10 assists as the Huskers bounced back with a .242 hitting percentage. MSU was held to .158 hitting and just two blocks as Nebraska had three.
An ace by Zarda put NU up 3-2 in the third set, but MSU came back with three consecutive points to take a 7-4 lead. Mancuso put NU within two at 15-14, but the Huskers would once again fall 25-18 in the set.
Mancuso notched five kills in the third set, while Haggerty had three. Nebraska hit .219 as a team, while MSU notched a .483 hitting percentage and out-blocked NU 5-1.
Nebraska opened the fourth set with a 4-1 lead on a block by Thramer, but the Spartans bounced back to take a 7-4 lead. A kill by Fien put NU within two at 11-9, MSU, while Alexa Strange led NU to an 18-17 lead with a service ace. The Spartans then took a 22-19 lead, but an error by MSU put Nebraska within 22-21. A double-stuff block by Cook and Thramer gave NU a 23-22 lead, as Mancuso powered NU to the 25-23 fourth-set win.
Mancuso led Nebraska again in the fourth set, totaling four kills, as Thramer and Haggerty both had two kills. NU hit .206 in the set, while holding MSU to a .094 hitting percentage.
Nebraska opened the fifth set trailing 5-1 to the Spartans. A kill by Mancuso and a pair of blocks from Haggerty and Ostrander eventually put NU within 7-6. A hitting error by the Spartans tied the set at 8-8, while Ostrander came on strong for NU again with a kill, giving Nebraska a 9-8 lead. FIen notched a kill as NU went up 11-9, then taking a 14-11 lead on a kill by Haggerty. Fighting off numerous set points, Michigan State came back to take the fifth set 17-15 and the match 3-2.