LINCOLN — With Nebraska coming off its first loss of the season, Indiana’s timing for its match against the Huskers wasn’t the best.
Credit the Hoosiers for staying close early but NU prevailed, posting a 25-23, 25-13, 25-17 sweep Friday night before 8,019 at the Devaney Center. The third-ranked Huskers boosted their record to 13-1 and 4-1 in the Big Ten.
Nebraska coach John Cook said he was “really surprised” that his team didn’t begin the match with more intensity, following its home loss last Saturday night against Ohio State.
“I felt like we were ready to unleash,” he said.
The Huskers didn’t unleash early against the Hoosiers. The first set was tied 15 times and Indiana led 23-22 when Cook called his second timeout.
“I told our team that ‘you guys have to figure it out,’” the coach said. “If we lose that set, we could have been in a bad frame of mind.”
But NU didn’t let the set slip away, tying it on a kill by Amber Rolfzen. A shot by the Hoosiers’ Deyshia Lofton then failed to clear the net and NU’s Annika Albrecht nailed down the first set with an ace.
“I think that first set was a matter of getting the rust off,” NU senior Kadie Rolfzen said. “Then we started getting into a groove, and you could tell the trust was there.”
Someone else who could tell the Huskers were getting their groove on was Indiana coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan.
“Nebraska has a swag, and you could see it late in that set,” she said. “They never get rattled, and they still looked calm even when they were behind.”
After putting away the first set, the Huskers had more of an even flow the rest of the way.
The second set was close early, but NU broke a 6-6 tie by going on an 8-1 run to grab a 14-7 advantage. Included in that stretch were three hitting errors by the Hoosiers.
“We had some mistakes tonight that cost us,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “Going back to that first set, we missed five serves and that could have been the difference.”
Nebraska continued to extend its lead and put away the second set on a kill by Andie Malloy.
After the 10-minute break between the second and third sets, the Huskers went back to work. They jumped to a 7-2 lead, prompting Dunbar-Kruzan to use one of her timeouts.
Indiana trailed 16-9, but four straight points pulled the Hoosiers within three, leading Cook to burn one of his timeouts. But that was as close as Indiana would get, and NU eventually finished off the set and the match when a shot by Lofton sailed long.
“I’m not sure if it was still a hangover from the Ohio State match at the start,” Cook said. “But our intensity picked up as the match went on.”
Still, the NU coach said he was puzzled by the Huskers’ slow start.
“I was expecting something completely different,” he said. “But after we won game one, all of the weight came off.”
Kadie Rolfzen led Nebraska with nine kills while Briana Holman had six. Amber Rolfzen and Mikaela Foecke each had five and Kelly Hunter had 28 assists.
Sophomore Elizabeth Asdell paced the Hoosiers with nine kills.
The Huskers will be idle Saturday before returning to action Sunday at 2 p.m. against visiting Purdue. The 17th-ranked Boilermakers are 11-4 and 1-3 in the conference.
“They’ve had some great wins this year,” Cook said. “It’s another big match against another tough Big Ten team.”
Indiana (12-6, 1-4)……………23 13 17
At Nebraska (13-1, 4-1)……..25 25 25
IU (kills-aces-blocks): Victoria Brisack 2-1-0, Jazzmine McDonald 2-0-0, Allison Hammond 3-0-0, Elizabeth Asdell 9-0-1, Deyshia Lofton 5-0-2, Kendall Beerman 7-0-1, Hayden Huybers 3-0-0, Taylor Lebo 0-1-0, Mallory Waggoner 1-0-0.
NU: Mikaela Foecke 5-1-0, Kelly Hunter 0-1-3, Amber Rolfzen 5-0-5, Kadie Rolfzen 9-1-3, Andie Malloy 4-0-0, Briana Holman 6-0-2, Sydney Townsend 0-1-0, Annika Albrecht 1-1-0, Olivia Boender 1-0-1.
Set assists: IU 30 (Brisack 25, Lebo 2, Meaghan Koors 2, Fogg 1); NU 29 (Hunter 28, Holman 1).