at No. 2 Minnesota, 3-2
----------------------------- 1 2 3 4 5 Minnesota(2) 25 25 26 17 15 NEBRASKA (1) 21 22 28 25 17 -----------------------------
Nebraska won the first two sets, 25-21, 25-22. The Huskers held a 23-20 lead in the third set and had match point once, but Minnesota won 28-26 and then took the fourth set, 25-17. A nailbiter of a fifth set ended up in favor of the Gophers, 17-15.
The Huskers (26-2, 17-2 Big Ten) are now tied with Wisconsin for first place in the Big Ten standings and still control their own destiny. Nebraska can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win over Michigan on Saturday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. A Nebraska win combined with a Wisconsin loss at Minnesota would give the Huskers the outright title.
Nebraska's 14-match overall winning streak and 17-match road winning streak were erased at the hands of the Gophers, who kept their hopes of sharing the Big Ten title alive.
Kadie Rolfzen had 20 kills, 10 digs and hit .333 to lead the Huskers. Mikaela Foecke and Andie Malloy chipped in 12 kills, and Briana Holman had 11 kills and six blocks. Amber Rolfzen led the team with seven blocks and had six kills.
Kelly Hunter had 48 assists and 12 digs, and Justine Wong-Orantes had 26 digs.
Minnesota was led by Sarah Wilhite's 19 kills and 25 digs. The Gophers had a .200 to .183 hitting advantage and a 100-86 edge in digs. The Huskers outblocked Minnesota, 15-10.
Although Nebraska had a 7-2 advantage in service aces, they committed 11 service errors.
Set 1: The Huskers went up 7-3 with a 5-0 run on the serve of Kadie Rolfzen, which included an ace. Foecke smashed a kill for a 10-5 lead, but the Gophers ran off three points to pull within 10-8. Minnesota cut it to 13-12 before Kadie Rolfzen blasted a cross-court kill after a Husker timeout. A block by the Rolfzen twins made it 15-12, but Minnesota rallied to take a 17-15 lead with a 5-0 run of its own. Malloy snapped the run with a kill and Kadie Rolfzen served an ace to level the set at 17-17. The teams sided out on eight straight rallies, the last of which came on a Holman blast that made it 22-21 and began a 4-0 Husker run to end the set. A Kadie Rolfzen kill made it 23-21 and forced a Minnesota timeout. The Huskers grabbed set point at 24-21, and an ace by Foecke earned the Big Red the 25-21 win. NU outhit the Gophers .265 to .167, but Minnesota hung tough behind its defense, which produced 30 digs.
Set 2: The teams put on a defensive clinic early as neither team could gain separation. The Huskers committed three service errors, however, allowing Minnesota to claim a 10-8 advantage, the first two-point advantage for either team. Minnesota went ahead 15-10 with three straight kills and a Husker hitting error. Amber Rolfzen and Foecke pulled NU within 15-12, and a block by the duo made it 15-13 Gophers. Minnesota led 18-14 before Foecke got a kill and Holman hammered back an overpass to get back within two, 18-16. But Minnesota had an answer each time the Huskers cut it to two and eventually built a 21-17 lead. The Huskers' comeback attempt after a timeout began with a Holman kill and a Minnesota hitting error, making it 21-19 Gophers. Minnesota took a timeout, but Maloney bump set Malloy for a kill, and Minnesota hit wide, tying the set at 21-21. Wong-Orantes continued to serve, but Minnesota got its first block of the match to go up 22-21. A block by the Rolfzens knotted the set before Malloy snuck a kill through blockers for a 23-22 Husker lead, their first since leading 6-5. After another Minnesota timeout, Amber Rolfzen and Malloy teamed up for a stuff block and set point, 24-22. The Huskers took the 25-22 win on another kill by Malloy, which came after Wong-Orantes kept alive a powerful hit from the Gophers.
Set 3: Nebraska rallied from 4-2 down to a 6-4 lead with a 4-0 run thanks to a Kadie Rolfzen kill, two Minnesota errors and a block by Hunter and Amber Rolfzen. Minnesota drew even at 6-6 before a sideout battle ensued. The Huskers answered each tie with a kill, and Foecke posted a kill before an ace by Annika Albrecht for a 15-12 Husker lead. The Gophers scored three straight to level the score at 15-15 and force a Nebraska timeout. They continued their run after the timeout with a Hannah Tapp kill for a 16-15 lead. Amber Rolfzen ended Minnesota's serve with a kill, and a block by Hunter and Holman put NU back in front, 17-16. The Gophers regained a 19-17 lead before serving long. Kadie Rolfzen terminated to make it 19-19, and Holman tacked on a kill for a 20-19 Husker lead. Hunter fed Holman for another kill after a Minnesota timeout, and Holman and Kadie Rolfzen combined for a block and a 22-19 Husker lead, capping a 5-0 run. Kadie Rolfzen swung NU to a 23-20 lead, but Minnesota scored four straight points, two off blocks, to take a 24-23 lead. The Huskers called timeout, and Holman fought off Minnesota's set point with her 10th kill. Wong-Orantes served an ace for match point for the Huskers, but Minnesota found the floor to make it 25-25. The Gophers picked up set point again with a block, but Kadie Rolfzen came up with a clutch kill to keep the set going. But Hart got a kill for the Gophers and the Huskers committed an attacking error to give Minnesota the 28-26 win.
Set 4: The Gophers carried their momentum into the fourth set, taking a 5-0 lead. Minnesota built the lead to eight at 15-7, but kills by Holman and Kadie Rolfzen, and an ace serve by Kenzie Maloney trimmed it to five, 15-10. The Huskers could get no closer though, as Minnesota rebuilt its lead to 18-11. Olivia Boender came off the bench and hammered a kill to make it 19-13, but the Gophers maintained control throughout the set, forcing a fifth with a 25-18 win.
Set 5: Minnesota sprinted out to a 4-1 advantage. A kill by Malloy after a long rally, and a block by Malloy and Amber Rolfzen pulled the Huskers within 5-4. Hunter won a joust to bring the Huskers back even at 5-5, and Minnesota took a timeout. The Gophers rejected a Husker attack and got a kill from Wilhite to go back ahead 7-5 and force a Husker timeout. A dump by Hunter was followed by a Wilhite kill to give Minnesota an 8-6 lead as the teams changed sides. Wilhite continued to attack and put Minnesota ahead 10-7 before committing a hitting error. Nebraska trailed 12-9 when Malloy got a kill, and Kadie Rolfzen blasted an overpass after a tough Wong-Orantes serve to cut it to 12-11. A Husker hitting error gave Minnesota a 13-11 lead, but Kadie Rolfzen and Malloy terminated kills to even the set at 13-13. Minnesota had match point at 14-13 and 15-14, but the Huskers fought it off both times. Minnesota went ahead 16-15 on a Husker service error and this time won the set, 17-15, and match with a block.
Up Next: The Huskers conclude the regular season with Senior Night against No. 18 Michigan on Saturday at 7 p.m., at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The match will be carried on Husker Sports Network affiliates and televised on NET.