LINCOLN — You can tell how well a team is playing by the number of timeouts a coach calls.
Sunday afternoon, John Cook didn’t use one.
The third-ranked Huskers looked solid from the start in a 25-17, 25-13, 25-17 sweep of 17th-ranked Purdue at the Devaney Center. The win moved NU to 14-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten.
It also gave the Huskers momentum heading into their rematch Friday night at Ohio State, which handed NU its only loss Oct. 1.
“Any time you get a 3-0 win vs. a team in the Big Ten, I’m pleased,” Cook said. “It was a good effort by the Huskers.”
The dominant performance was something Cook wanted to see after the loss to the Buckeyes and Friday night’s win over Indiana. NU sputtered at the start against the Hoosiers but immediately took it to the Boilermakers Sunday in front of 8,004.
“We had much more intensity today,” Cook said. “Our team was dialed in from the first point.”
The coach added that Nebraska had to get over the oddity of playing Sunday. The match was moved from Saturday to accommodate the telecast on ESPN2.
“It’s weird, playing on Sunday,” Cook said. “It’s a day when you’re usually sleeping in and not thinking about a volleyball match.”
Nebraska received strong performances from its three former Papillion-La Vista South teammates. Kadie Rolfzen had a team-high 11 kills, her sister Amber had nine blocks and setter Kelly Hunter had 30 assists.
Hunter, who also had five blocks and four kills, started the match with a kill and ended it with an ace.
“Coach says when I’m in the front row, I’m another hitter,” Hunter said. “We knew they were going to put up a fight, so we tried to jump on them early.”
Cook said Hunter’s offensive contribution was by design.
“Purdue didn’t put a blocker on her and Kelly made them pay,” he said. “It’s very frustrating for a team when she throws them down.”
Purdue, coming off a tough five-set loss Friday night at Iowa, stayed close early in the opening set. It was tied 10-10 until a kill by Kadie Rolfzen put Nebraska ahead to stay.
The Boilermakers fell behind 16-13, which led coach Dave Shondell to use his first timeout. After the Huskers went up 18-14, he used his final timeout of the set.
NU finished strong, outscoring Purdue 7-3 the rest of the way. The Huskers put away the first set on a kill by Hunter.
Purdue trailed 7-6 in the second set but lost the next two points on an Amber Rolfzen block and a hitting error. Shondell again used one of his timeouts, and burned his second one two points later when NU grabbed an 11-6 lead.
It didn’t get any better for the Boilermakers as Nebraska extended its lead. The Huskers won the second set on a kill by Amber Rolfzen, which came shortly after a diving dig by Andie Malloy.
NU never trailed in the third set, though Purdue did tie it 6-6. A kill and a block by Amber Rolfzen and a net shot by Purdue extended the Huskers’ lead to three.
Purdue closed to 15-14 when Amber Rolfzen netted a shot, but NU then rattled off the next three points. The Huskers ended the match on a high note, scoring the final four points.
Cook said Amber Rolfzen’s nine blocks were instrumental in the victory.
“Amber did a really good job on their middles,” the coach said. “Any time you get nine blocks in three games, that’s an accomplishment.”
The one player NU had difficulty handling was the 6-foot-4 Danielle Cuttino, who finished with a match-high 12 kills. She had six in the first set and four in the second but two in the third.
“They were hitting it very high,” Amber Rolfzen said. “I was trying to get up on them the best I could.”
Mikaela Foecke had eight kills for the Huskers, while Briana Holman and Malloy each had seven. Kadie Rolfzen had nine digs to go with her 11 kills.
Next up for NU is Ohio State, a match that Cook addressed late in his postmatch press conference.
“It will be a great challenge for us,” he said. “We’ll have to be better prepared mentally because it will be another big test.”
Cook added that the Huskers seem to be in a better place before they hit the road to play the Buckeyes on Friday and Maryland on Sunday.
“I think the last couple of weeks that we’ve been on cruise control,” he said. “Right now, we’ve got more of a sense of urgency.”
Purdue (11-6, 1-5)……………17 13 17
At Nebraska (14-1, 5-1)…….25 25 25
P (kills-aces-blocks): Ashley Evans 0-0-2, Azariah Stahl 6-0-0, Faye Adelaja 2-0-0, Blake Mohler 5-0-3, Danielle Cuttino 12-0-2, Brooke Peters 0-1-0, Sherridan Atkinson 1-0-3.
NU: Mikaela Foecke 8-0-0, Kelly Hunter 4-2-5, Amber Rolfzen 5-0-9, Kadie Rolfzen 11-0-1, Briana Holman 7-0-2, Andie Malloy 7-0-3.
Set assists: P 25 (Evans 23, Peters 2), NU 39 (Hunter 30, K. Rolfzen 4, Justine Wong-Orantes 2, Annika Albrecht 1, Malloy 1, Kenzie Maloney 1).