OMAHA–(NU Athletics Apr. 15)–Playing its first match in nearly three weeks, the Nebraska volleyball team showed little sign of rust in a dominant sweep of Texas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday afternoon in Omaha.
The fifth-seeded Huskers (15-2) trailed in only one rally during the 25-18, 25-17, 25-20 victory. Nebraska hit .398 in the match, its highest attacking percentage of the season. With the win, Nebraska advanced to an NCAA Regional for the 36th time, an NCAA record. The Huskers will take on 12th-seeded Baylor on Sunday (time TBA).
Madi Kubik paced the Huskers with a match-high 13 kills on a season-best .407 hitting percentage. Lauren Stivrins, who played only the first two sets, had 10 kills on .571 hitting, the eighth time in her postseason career she has hit over .500. Kayla Caffey had nine kills on only 12 swings, as Nebraska’s two starting middles combined for 19 kills on 26 swings and a .615 attack percentage. Jazz Sweet added eight kills on 20 error-free swings and Lexi Sun had seven kills and eight digs. Kenzie Knuckles led Nebraska with nine digs and a season-high-tying two aces, while Nicklin Hames dished out 43 assists while leading the Huskers to their highest hitting percentage of the season.
Texas State, the nation’s wins leader, ended its season with a 31-9 record. Tyeranee Scott and Janell Fitzgerald led the Bobcats with eight kills apiece. Nebraska held Texas State to a .185 hitting percentage.
Set 1: Nebraska jumped out to a 5-2 lead on early kills from Kubik, Stivrins and Sun. Texas State answered with three straight points to tie the set. The Huskers used a 4-0 run to turn a 10-10 tie into a 14-10 lead to begin to pull away. Three more consecutive points gave Nebraska a 20-14 advantage and forced a Texas State timeout. Two straight Husker attack errors and an ace then pulled the Bobcats within three at 21-18 and forced a Nebraska timeout. But the Huskers scored the final four points out of the timeout to take the first set, 25-18. Stivrins led Nebraska with five kills on six error-free swings in the set, as the Huskers hit .323 and held Texas State to an .094 attack percentage.
Set 2: The Huskers won the first five rallies of set two to force Texas State to take a quick timeout. Nebraska found the floor on six of its first eight swings to push the lead to 10-4. The Huskers continued to lead by at least five, stretching the score to 17-9 on three straight kills from Stivrins, which forced another Bobcat timeout. Nebraska’s lead grew to nine twice before the Huskers closed out the eight-point set win on a Sweet kill. Nebraska had 19 kills and hit .500 in the second set. Caffey, Kubik and Stivrins each had five kills in the set.
Set 3: Texas State won two of the first three rallies of set three to take its first lead of the match at 2-1. The Huskers quickly regained the lead with two straight points and never trailed again. Nebraska led 10-6 after a double-stuff block from Caffey and Sun before Texas State won three straight rallies to pull within one. But the Huskers scored the next four points to take a 15-11 lead. Nebraska still led by four until Texas State won four straight rallies to tie the set at 17-17. The set was still tied at 20-all before the Huskers won the final five rallies to close out the match. NU hit .375 in the third set and was led by six kills from Kubik and five kills on nine error-free swings from Sweet.
Up Next: Nebraska will take on 12th-seeded Baylor on Sunday in an NCAA Regional Semifinal. Start time for the match has not been determined.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes