Win at No. 20 Michigan State
----------------------------- 1 2 3 4 5 MSU (20) 25 25 20 14 14 NEBRASKA (1) 22 23 25 25 16 -----------------------------
The Huskers, now 11-0 (2-0 Big Ten), had their backs against the wall with Michigan State (12-2, 1-1 Big Ten) already up 2-0 in the match and leading 13-8 in the third set. But Nebraska found a way to turn the match around, even fighting off a match point in set five, to escape with its 27th win in a row and 11th straight win against a ranked opponent.
Mikaela Foecke had a season-high 17 kills, while Kadie Rolfzen had 16 kills and nine digs. Amber Rolfzen had eight kills and five blocks, and Andie Malloy had seven kills. Olivia Boender - who entered the match in the third set - had eight kills, including big ones down the stretch. Briana Holman had seven kills and six blocks.
Kelly Hunter put up a season-high 53 assists with 10 digs and six blocks. Justine Wong-Orantes had a team-high 14 digs, while Annika Albrecht had a season-best 13 digs to go with two aces and three kills on five attacks. Kenzie Maloney added eight digs, and Sydney Townsend had two.
Nebraska hit .303 and held the Spartans to .214. Michigan State was hitting over .400 midway through the third set, but NU held the Spartans to -.083 in the fourth set and .172 in the fifth.
The Huskers had a 13-10 edge in blocks and 68-53 advantage in digs. After allowing six service aces in the first two sets, NU didn't allow another in the final three sets. The Huskers ended up with a 7-6 edge in aces.
Saturday's comeback marked the second straight season the Huskers won a fifth set in East Lansing by a score of 16-14. It also marked the second straight season the Huskers came back from a 2-0 deficit on the road to beat a ranked opponent, as they did the same at No. 1 Penn State last season.
Chloe Reinig had 16 kills for the Spartans, while Brooke Kranda had 14. Autumn Bailey added 13 kills and a team-high three aces.
Set 1: Nebraska fell behind 4-1 early and never led in the first set. Despite hitting .481, the Huskers were unable to overcome the early deficit as Michigan State hit .447 and served three aces. The Huskers tied the set at 8-8 on an Albrecht kill and 20-20 after consecutive kills by Foecke. But it was then when Michigan State was victorious on two lengthy challenge reviews, one by each team. After that, the Spartans finished off the 25-22 win.
Set 2: The Huskers got off to a better start in the second set by taking a 5-3 lead. The Spartans came back to take a 7-6 lead before Foecke tied it with her sixth kill. But Kranda's serve caused problems for the Big Red as the Spartans went up 15-10 with a 6-0 run. A Kadie Rolfzen kill got the Huskers a sideout, but Michigan State pulled away to an 18-12 lead. Kills by Malloy and Foecke cut it to 18-14, and an ace by Albrecht forced a Spartan timeout at 18-15. But a pair of kills and another ace from the Spartans put them ahead 21-15. NU scored four straight to get within 23-20 after kills by Foecke and Holman and a Hunter ace. After a Spartan timeout, Kranda got a kill for set point at 24-20. Holman and Kadie Rolfzen kept the Huskers alive with kills, and the Spartans hit wide to pull NU within 24-23. But Reinig secured the set for the Spartans with a kill, and MSU took the 2-0 lead into intermission.
Set 3: Michigan State opened up an early lead again and extended it to 13-8. But the Huskers fought back with two kills by Malloy and one each from Kadie Rolfzen, Boender and Amber Rolfzen to tie the set 15-15. Foecke gave the Huskers' their first lead in the set, 17-16, with her 12th kill, and Albrecht made it 18-16 to force a Spartan timeout. A swing by Holman got the Huskers to 20 first at 20-18, and Kadie Rolfzen connected twice to make it 22-19, and Boender found the floor for a 23-20 lead. A solo stuff by Amber Rolfzen gave NU its first set point of the net, and the Huskers capitalized with an ace by Kadie Rolfzen. A much-improved defensive effort by the Huskers held MSU to .211 hitting in the set. NU hit .314 to bring its match average to .351.
Set 4: Holman began the set with a kill and a stuff to put the Huskers ahead 2-0. A Kadie Rolfzen kill and MSU error increased the lead to 6-3, and a tip kill by Foecke made it 10-7. The Spartans crawled back to within 11-10 before a Boender kill restored a two-point lead. Then the Spartans hit into the net, and Kadie Rolfzen swatted an MSU attack to put NU up 14-10. The Huskers went on a 6-0 run to go up 22-13, thanks in part to a Holman and Hunter block, and kills by Foecke and Holman. Hunter served an ace and the Spartans hit into the net, giving the Huskers a 25-14 win and forcing a fifth set in East Lansing for the second straight year.
Set 5: Michigan State took a 2-0 lead after a pair of Husker miscues. Kadie Rolfzen's kill got NU on the board, and a Foecke ace evened it at 2-2. NU went up by two, 5-3, after a Michigan State net violation. The Spartans won the next four rallies, however, to reclaim a 7-5 advantage and force a Husker timeout. The teams engaged in a sideout battle until the Huskers hit wide to put MSU up 11-8. A Foecke/Holman block cut it to 11-10, but the Spartans answered with a block of their own to go up 12-10. Kadie Rolfzen and Boender tallied back-to-back kills to tie the set at 12-12. The score remained tied at 13-13 before Reinig gave MSU match point, but Boender produced a clutch kill to make it 14-14. Incredible digs by Wong-Orantes and Maloney on the next rally led to a Spartan hitting error to give the Huskers match point. A stuff by Hunter and Amber Rolfzen clinched the Huskers' 27th straight win.
Up Next: The Huskers continue their three-match road stretch to open Big Ten play at Illinois on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.