NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. –(NU Athletics Feb. 13)– The Nebraska volleyball team continued its unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-14, 25-15, 25-20) win at Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers (6-0) overcame a slow start to eventually overpower the Scarlet Knights (1-7). Nebraska had a season-high 15 blocks and 79 digs to hold Rutgers to .129 hitting for the match. The Huskers hit .269 and had 61 kills to just 40 for the Scarlet Knights.
Lauren Stivrins had 15 kills on .583 hitting with a career-high 11 blocks. Lexi Sun also had 15 kills to go with 11 digs and a season-best five blocks. Stivrins capped a stellar weekend at Rutgers that included 26 kills and just two attacking errors on 42 swings for a .571 hitting percentage.
Madi Kubik chipped in 14 kills, 16 digs and three blocks, all season highs. Jazz Sweet came off the bench to spark the Big Red with eight kills on .429 hitting, and she chipped in a pair of blocks. Riley Zuhn and Callie Schwarzenbach each had four kills, and Schwarzenbach posted four blocks.
Kenzie Knuckles had a season-best 20 digs, and Nicklin Hames added 17 to go with 49 assists. Keonilei Akana added 11 digs, the most in her freshman season.
Beka Kojadinovic led the Scarlet Knights with 12 kills and 18 digs.
Set 1: Rutgers took the first set, 25-22, its first set win over the Huskers since both teams joined the Big Ten Conference. The Scarlet Knights hit .400 in the set with one attacking error while Nebraska hit .262 with seven attacking errors. The Huskers led 16-12 after kills by Kubik and Sun and a solo block by Schwarzenbach. But Rutgers went on a 4-0 run to tie the set at 16-16, and the Scarlet Knights turned an 18-18 tie into a 23-19 lead with a 5-1 run. NU pulled within 23-21 on kills by Stivrins and Kubik but could get no closer.
Set 2: Nebraska ended the second set on a 7-0 run to win 25-14 and even the match. Knuckles served the decisive run as the Huskers fired on all cylinders. The teams traded points early in set two and were tied 12-12 when Rutgers hit wide and mishandled a serve by Hames to make it 14-12 Huskers. Sweet’s first kill of the season gave NU a 15-13 lead, and Kubik and Sweet added kills around an ace by Sun as the Huskers went ahead 18-13. Stivrins produced a pair of kills to push the lead to 21-14, and an ace by Knuckles and two straight Rutgers attacking errors gave the Huskers the win.
Set 3: Nebraska gained separation from a 7-7 tie with a 4-0 run sparked by kills by Stivrins and Sun and a block by the pair of All-Americans. The Huskers led 16-11 after Sweet terminated a kill and teamed with Schwarzenbach for a block. Stivrins delivered two more kills and a block as the Huskers built a 23-13 lead after a 7-1 spurt. Kubik earned set point for the Huskers with her fourth kill of the set, and a fifth kill in the set by Stivrins ended the set at 25-14. The Huskers hit .250 and held Rutgers to .022 hitting in the third set.
Set 4: Rutgers held a 6-3 lead when Stivrins and Sun combined for two kills and two blocks to make it 7-6 Huskers. Hames dumped a kill, and Sun had a block with Schwarzenbach before tallying another kill for an 11-8 lead. Rutgers came back to tie the score at 17-17, but Kubik and Sun posted three kills to keep NU in front, 20-18. Sweet, Stivrins and Kubik produced kills in the waning moments of the match to lift the Huskers to a 25-20 win.
Up Next: Nebraska is back at home next weekend for a top-five showdown against Minnesota. The fourth-ranked Huskers and fifth-ranked Golden Gophers will meet on Friday at the Devaney Center at 8 p.m. and next Sunday at 11 a.m. Both matches will air on the Big Ten Network