LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Dec. 4)–The 10th-seeded Nebraska volleyball team advanced to its 10th straight NCAA Regional Saturday night with a second-round sweep of Florida State by scores of 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 at the Devaney Center.
The Huskers improved to 23-7 on the year, while FSU finished its season at 20-10. With the win, Nebraska moves on to the Austin (Texas) Regional, where the Huskers will face Illinois on Thursday. The Fighting Illini upset seventh-seeded Kentucky, the defending national champion, on Saturday.
Three Huskers finished with double-digit kills and two players posted double-doubles. Madi Kubik had a match-high 12 kills and added a season-high 15 digs for her sixth double-double of the year. Ally Batenhorst had 11 kills and hit .308 in only her second NCAA Tournament match, while Lauren Stivrins had 10 kills on a .429 attack percentage. Nicklin Hames dished out 39 assists and had 12 digs for her team-leading 20th double-double of the season. Kayla Caffey added nine kills and five blocks, while Lindsay Krause put down eight kills and had four stuffs. Lexi Rodriguez led Nebraska with 18 digs, and Kenzie Knuckles tied her career high with three service aces to go with eight digs.
As a team, Nebraska had 54 kills, its high for a three-set match this season. The Huskers recorded 71 digs, a school record for a three-set NCAA Tournament match. Nebraska also out-blocked Florida State 9-6 and had a 4-2 edge in service aces.
Audrey Koenig led Florida State with nine kills. Lily Tessier had 24 assists for the Seminoles, and Emery Dupes had a match-high 20 digs.
Two Kubik kills spurred NU to an early 4-2 advantage before a 4-0 run put FSU on top. The Huskers regained the lead on a 7-2 run with three kills and a block by Batenhorst, a Hames ace and two more kills from Kubik that brought it to 12-9. The lead increased to 15-11 by the media timeout, with NU hitting .423 with no errors.
FSU pulled within three twice on Husker miscues, but at 18-15 NU responded with a 5-0 run on four kills between Batenhorst, Kubik and Caffey, plus a Caffey/Batenhorst block. Batenhorst swatted another kill to get it to set point, after which a kill and a solo block by Sydney Conley bookended a 3-0 FSU run. Out of an NU timeout, Kubik terminated to finish it off, 25-20.
NU hit above .300 for much of the opening set, ultimately coming in at a .294 clip. Kubik and Batenhorst combined for 13 of Nebraska’s 19 kills, with the junior tallying seven and the freshman posting six with no errors for .667 hitting. Caffey had three blocks as NU had a 4-1 advantage at the net.
Out of a 2-2 lock, NU rattled off five straight with the help of two blocks and a kill apiece between Krause and Stivrins, leading 7-2 when FSU called a timeout. The Seminoles trimmed it to 7-6 before a Kubik kill and a trio of FSU errors boosted NU’s advantage to 11-6.
The Huskers assumed their largest lead of six on a Kubik kill at 20-14. After FSU got within three, the Huskers responded with Batenhorst and Krause kills to reach set point at 24-19. The Seminoles got back within two at 24-22 on three straight NU attack errors, but Krause’s sixth kill of the set capped it at 25-22 for a 2-0 match lead.
In addition to her six kills, Krause added three blocks in set two.
Nebraska trailed early in the third set as FSU went up 4-1. Five Stivrins kills powered a 9-1 Husker run that spotted them a 10-5 edge. Florida State cut the lead to two with three straight points. It was still a two-point set at 13-11 before the Huskers used a 4-0 run to pull away. NU earned its first match point at 24-17 following a Caffey kill, and then Caffey closed out the match with another kill three rallies later.
Stivrins had five kills in the third set, while Hames had three kills.
Nebraska advances to NCAA Regional play, Dec. 9 and 11, in Austin, Texas, facing Big Ten peer Illinois on Thursday. Match times and broadcast information will be announced in the coming days.