Huskers Deliver Senior Night Sweep of Penn State
(Lincoln, NE) - The 11th-ranked Nebraska volleyball team took care of business in a Senior Night sweep Friday night, defeating No. 15 Penn State 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-23) at the Devaney Center. The Huskers’ win in their regular-season home finale improves them to 20-6 (14-3 Big Ten) on the season, while the Nittany Lions drop to 19-8 (12-5).
NU snapped PSU’s four-match win streak.
Madi Kubik led the Huskers with 12 kills and added three digs, two blocks and an ace.
Nicklin Hames’ team-leading 18th double-double of the year came on a match-best 38 assists and a team-high 14 digs to go with a season-high four blocks.
Lexi Sun finished with eight kills, a block and an ace, and Kayla Caffey posted seven kills while hitting .636 with no errors and two blocks. Lauren Stivrins totaled six kills, tied her season high with seven blocks and added an ace.
Whitney Lauenstein came off the bench for an impactful five kills on .500 hitting over the second and third sets. She added two blocks.
Lexi Rodriguez and Keonilei Akana matched each other with 13 digs for the night.
As a team, Nebraska hit just.186 but kept Penn State to .088. The Huskers had the edge in kills (42-30), assists (42-29), aces (4-1), digs (56-50) and blocks (10-7). PSU counted eight service errors.
Penn State was led by a match-high 14 kills from Jonni Parker, and Allie Holland had five blocks. The Huskers limited Kaitlyn Hord, the Big Ten leader in conference-only hitting percentage, to just .125 for the match.
The Huskers capitalized on three early PSU errors to lead 4-1 and extended it to 9-3 with the help of a block and an ace by Stivrins and a Sun kill. The Nittany Lions were held without a kill until Parker's first at 10-5.
NU worked to a double-digit advantage by 19-9. A kill by Sun forced a PSU timeout at 20-11, and back-to-back Kubik kills eventually got it to set point at 24-13. PSU's eighth attack error of the set closed it at 25-14.
The Huskers were dominant in the set, holding PSU to negative hitting at -.097 while coming in at .242 themselves. Kubik had five kills and Sun had another four to lead NU, and Stivrins set the pace at the net with three stops as part of a 4-2 Husker blocking advantage. Rodriguez had seven of her 13 digs in the first set alone.
The Huskers hit .067 and PSU hit .022 in set two, with each team committing nine attack errors.
Down early, Nebraska tied it at 3-3 on an Akana ace, but the Nittany Lions went up again by three. Hames and Stivrins had two huge blocks to keep PSU in check.
NU kept it close before the Nittany Lions got a kill and a block from Parker and another kill from Holland to go up 15-10 by the media timeout. Kubik responded with a kill and an ace to cut it to three once more.
NU called for a timeout down 19-14 and again at 22-15 after a 3-0 Nittany Lion run. The Huskers emerged from the break with renewed energy, turning the tide against Penn State. Lauenstein subbed in and helped spark a 4-0 NU run. Following a Caffey kill, Stivrins and Lauenstein teamed up for a block, and an errant PSU swing plus a Kubik kill trimmed the deficit to 22-19.
Lauenstein added a kill, and the Husker block then went to work. Stivrins and Kubik thwarted Parker at the net, and Hames put up a solo stop against Pritchard. A Stivrins kill tied it at 23-23 and forced a Penn State timeout. Two attack errors capped the Huskers' closing run at 10-1 -- the last five served by Akana -- and completed the comeback, 25-23.
Kubik had four kills, while Stivrins had four blocks and Hames added three in the set. NU outblocked PSU 5-3.
Nebraska hit .275 in the final set with four kills on four swings from Caffey (1.000) and four more kills from Lauenstein (.429). Penn State finished at a .324 efficiency behind six kills from Parker (.500). Game three included 15 ties and six lead changes.
PSU assumed a 9-5 advantage to open the set. NU fought back within one, 9-8, on a Caffey kill, a Caffey/Lauenstein block and a Nittany Lion attack error.
The Huskers finally tied it when Kenzie Knuckles and Stivrins terminated back-to-back, and Sun added another kill to put NU on top, 13-12.
The set tied seven more times up to 19-19, and consecutive kills from Stivrins and Sun put the Huskers out front, 20-19. PSU regained the edge a final time on a Parker kill at 21-20 but never took the lead again. Two late kills from Caffey helped it to 23-22, and Parker locked the set a final time at 23-23. A Lauenstein kill brought it to set point, and Sun aced the Nittany Lions to end it at 25-23.
Following the match, the Huskers held Senior Night festivities to honor Kayla Caffey, Nicklin Hames, Callie Schwarzenbach, Lauren Stivrins and Lexi Sun.
Noting Tonight's Match
-Tonight marked NU's 13th sweep of the year and ninth at home.
-The Devaney Center crowd of 8,347 was the third-largest single-match attendance across the country this season, trailing only Nebraska at Creighton on Sept. 8 (11,279) and Utah at Nebraska on Sept. 11 (8,362).
-Tonight was NU's ninth match with 10 or more blocks as a team.
-The Huskers' sweep tonight was their first over Penn State since a 3-0 win on Sept. 22, 2017.
-NU has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Penn State. The Huskers lead 25-11 in the all-time series, including 16-6 in the John Cook era and 12-5 in Big Ten matches.
-NU has a 19-3 advantage over the Nittany Lions in Lincoln, including 7-1 at the Devaney Center.
With its Saturday, Nov. 20 match against Rutgers cancelled, Nebraska now looks to its final weekend of Big Ten play. The Huskers visit Wisconsin on Friday, Nov. 26, with first serve set for 4:30 p.m. in Madison, Wis. The match will be televised on Big Ten Network, and John Baylor and Lauren Cook West will have the radio call on Huskers Radio Network.