By Lincoln Arneal
Indiana took it to Nebraska with aggressive serving and attacking.
However, all of the Hoosiers’ risks also caused mistakes to pile up. IU finished with a .124 hitting percentage with 20 errors while racking up 13 service errors compared to three aces.
The fourth-ranked Huskers held their ground enough and allowed Indiana’s errors to amass easy points as they earned a 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 victory Wednesday night in front of 8,205 fans at the Devaney Center.
NU coach John Cook said they played well at times but never got into a rhythm because of IU’s style.
“They go for it,” Cook said about the Hoosiers. “They’re gonna swing, and sometimes they’re gonna error. They’re gonna jump serve and hit balls hard, and they’re gonna error some, so it’s a high risk, high reward type thing.”
After a sluggish first set where NU hit .103 with just 10 kills, Cook said they made the necessary adjustments to handle the Hoosiers’ aggression.
The Huskers (20-2, 12-1) took Indiana’s middle blockers out of the offense as they combined for one kill and five errors on 23 attacks. In addition, NU started to serve tough, which made the Hoosiers’ offense more predictable.
Nebraska also started to handle IU’s serving better. Indiana started the match with an ace, but NU only allowed two more points off serves the rest of the match – back-to-back points in the second set. Senior Madi Kubik led the Huskers with 26 serve receptions.
Kenzie Knuckles, who passed nine serves without an error to go with seven digs, said it was tough to handle IU’s jump serves. She said they are more similar to digging an attack than passing a float serve.
“They were pretty fast,” Knuckles said about IU’s jump serve. “They were really good at it and we haven’t seen a lot of it this year.”
NU added three aces of their own – two by Whitney Lauenstein and another by Lexi Rodriguez – while only committing six errors.
Nebraska’s offense was a bit erratic as it finished hitting .208 for the match. Kubik led NU with nine kills but hit just .136 for the match, while Lauenstein ended with eight kills at a .333 clip.
Sophomore Lindsay Krause finished with a .471 hitting percentage. She didn’t terminate on five attacks in the first set, but switched to the left pin for the final two and found more success with eight kills coming on 12 attacks.
While attacking comes naturally to her from both pins, Krause said she needed a refresher from the coaching about blocking since she is facing different hitters.
“I think I was taking some good rips in the first set. They were just getting some good digs,” Krause said. “Overall, we were doing a good job. My setters were giving me some great balls and I feel like we really picked up our play as a team in those second two sets so that allowed me to play my best.”
Ally Batenhorst recorded one kill with two errors in the first set. Freshman Maggie Mendelson stepped in on the right pin during the final two sets and had three kills on six attacks and two blocks.
The second set was an anomaly for both teams. The Huskers hit .481 with just two errors, while Indiana terminated at a .300 clip, which tied the second-highest mark for a set by an NU opponent this season. (Only Wisconsin’s .324 total in the third set was better. Creighton also hit .300 against the Huskers in the third set.)
Bekka Allick recorded three of her six kills in the second set. She tied Lauenstein and Kaitlyn Hord with three blocks for the match. NU finished with seven as a team. Hord totaled just two kills on nine swings on offense.
Senior Nicklin Hames tallied 20 assists and eight digs, while junior Anni Evans added 11 assists and five digs. Rodriguez paced NU with 10 digs.
The Hoosiers (13-12, 6-7) came crashing down in the third set with nine kills and eight errors.
IU’s outside hitters carried the load as Mady Saris had a match-high 12 kills and Morgan Geddes added 11, but they also combined for 12 errors. Setter Camryn Haworth added four kills on eight swings as the left-hander caught NU off guard with second-touch kills.
Nebraska goes back on the road on Sunday, where they will play at Northwestern.