with sweep of Illini
----------------------------- 1 2 3 Illinois (24) 24 21 19 NEBRASKA (1) 26 25 25 -----------------------------
The Huskers, playing their ninth ranked opponent in their last 11 matches, improved to 19-1 overall and 10-1 in Big Ten play. The win marked their fourth straight sweep against Illinois (14-8, 7-4 Big Ten) and second this season.
Briana Holman had 10 kills and a match-high four blocks for the Huskers, while Kadie Rolfzen had 10 kills and eight digs and Andie Malloy had 10 kills. Mikaela Foecke added eight kills, and Kelly Hunter chipped in 37 assists and eight digs. Justine Wong-Orantes had a match-high 19 digs and now needs just 16 digs to break Kayla Banwarth's career school record of 1,706.
Nebraska found a way to win in three sets despite its second-lowest hitting percentage of the season (.186). The only time the Huskers hit lower was in their lone loss of the season to Ohio State on Oct. 1. The Husker defense more than made up for it, as they held Illinois to .170 hitting, marking the fourth straight Husker opponent and sixth in the last seven matches to hit less than .180.
Entering the match, the Huskers had won one set this season when being outhit - the third set against Arkansas on Sept. 9. But the Big Red won both the first and second sets while being outhit by the Illini on Friday, in large part due to their advantage at the service line where they posted four more aces (5-to-1) and had six fewer errors (4-to-10) on the night. Foecke had two aces, while Annika Albrecht and Sydney Townsend each had one and served long runs throughout the course of the match.
Naya Crittenden led Illinois with 11 kills.
Set 1: The Huskers were relentless at the net as Holman and Hunter finished off an Illinois attack with a block, and Townsend served an ace for a 9-5 Husker lead to cap a 4-0 run. Illinois came back to take a 12-11 lead after a 4-0 run of its own. The set was tied 17-17 when Holman and Foecke posted kills to make it 19-17. Holman continued to take over the set with another kill and a block with Kadie Rolfzen for a 21-18 lead. Another kill by Holman and an Illinois error gave the Huskers a 23-19 edge. Amber Rolfzen gave the Big Red set point at 24-20, but Illinois killed off four straight set points to tie the set, 24-24. Amber Rolfzen pounded a kill to get set point back for the Big Red, and this time an ace by Malloy finished off the 26-24 win.
Set 2: A kill by Holman and an ace by Foecke boosted the Huskers to a 3-0 start. Illinois chipped away and eventually tied the set at 8-8 before serving long and then falling victim to another Foecke ace that made it 10-8 Huskers. Illinois committed a pair of errors and needed a timeout after the Huskers had taken a 13-9 lead. Malloy struck a kill after the timeout to finish the 4-0 run that made it 14-9. Back-to-back kills by Hunter helped the Huskers to a 20-13 lead, and Kadie Rolfzen posted two kills and a block with her twin sister Amber down the stretch as the Huskers won 25-21.
Set 3: Illinois took a 7-5 lead before seven straight sideouts. The Huskers evened the set at 10-10 on Malloy's eighth kill of the night, and they went in front for the first time since it was 2-1 when Foecke blasted a kill that made it 13-12. Albrecht immediately followed with an ace to make it 14-12, and Illinois hit long for a 15-12 Husker lead at the media timeout. An Illinois kill by Katie Stadick was reversed after it was ruled she was in the net, and the Huskers took a 19-15 lead. A Holman kill made it 20-15, and the Huskers clinched the sweep with a 25-19 win.
Up Next: Nebraska hosts Northwestern on Saturday at 7 p.m. on NET and on the Husker Sports Network.