NU Sweeps Iowa and Records 300th Sellout

By Lincoln Arneal

Nebraska hosted a party at the Devaney Center Friday night in honor of its 300th straight sellout. Fans received a commemorative towel, the student section got a special sweatshirt and the Huskers wore their Title IX 50th anniversary jerseys. 

On the court, the part didn’t stop as Iowa offered little resistance while No. 4 Nebraska picked up a 25-16, 25-17, 25-7 sweep in front of 8,207 fans. 

“It’s just truly amazing and it just shows how special this place is,” senior setter Nicklin Hames said. “There’s truly no place like Nebraska. The sellout streak started in 2001, right? I was one year old when it started. It’s just crazy how much tradition and history are in this building and at the Coliseum. I feel really honored to be a part of something so amazing.”

Between the second and third sets, a video of players and coaches thanking the fans was shown and the fans held up colored placards that spelled out 300.

Nebraska (22-2, 14-1) controlled each of the sets as they jumped out to leads of 9-3, 6-3 and 10-2. The Hawkeyes put up the biggest fight in the second set as they kept it close at 15-12, but NU went on a 7-0 run with Lexi Rodriguez serving to pull away. 

The Huskers were at their best in the third set as they hit .370 and only allowed three kills from Iowa. Ally Batenhorst led the way with five kills and three blocks in the set as she finished with eight kills on a .316 hitting percentage and five blocks. The Huskers ended the match on an 8-0 run. 

“We really needed to finish strong,” Hames said.  “They have been going on runs there in the first and second between like 12 and 16 (points.)  I think coach challenged (Batenhorst) and she really stepped up, took some huge swings off the block, and shifted the momentum.”

Madi Kubik led the Huskers with 12 kills and seven digs as she hit .400. Whitney Lauenstein added 11 kills at a .500 clip. 

Hames totaled 25 assists and nine digs. Junior setter Anni Evans finished with just five kills as a combination of service errors (NU had eight) and the Huskers running points with Hames in limited her offensive opportunities. 

Kubik said Hames didn’t take enough credit for how well she ran NU’s offense, which hit .305 for the match. 

“She does a great job running our offense and puts everyone in good positions to be confident and go up there and go for it and those big moments,” Kubik said. 

Senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord only recorded two kills on 10 swings but added seven blocks. Lexi Rodriguez racked up 17 digs, including saving a near-certain kill as Iowa tried to slam home an overpass. 

The Hawkeyes (7-19, 1-14) committed 24 hitting errors and hit -.070, the lowest for an NU opponent since 2013. Iowa finished with five more attacks than the Huskers but 23 fewer kills (40-17). Delaney McSeeny led the Hawkeyes with six kills and a .333 hitting percentage. 

The only damper on the evening was freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick didn’t suit up for the Huskers. Cook said she’s day-to-day but wouldn’t disclose the reason. 

“That’s top secret,” he said. “We didn’t think she could go all out tonight, so we rested her.”

Following the sweep of the Hawkeyes, the real challenge begins as four of the Huskers’ final five matches are against the top group in the Big Ten. The final stretch begins Sunday at No. 6 Ohio State, who is tied with NU for first place in the league along with Wisconsin. The Badgers visit Devaney on Nov. 25. 

Nebraska survived a five-set match against the Buckeyes on Sept. 24. Since then, OSU has won 13 matches in a row, including four against rated opponents. 

Cooks said he didn’t think there would be much carryover from the win against Iowa to Sunday’s match. 

“They got the whole package,” Cook said. “They play good defense. People think (setter Mac) Podraza is the best player in the conference and they’ve got five hitters, so we got our work cut out for us. They’re hot right now, so it’s going to be a great challenge.

Last year in their only meeting, the Buckeyes swept NU on their home court. The Huskers had three set points to win the first set, while OSU converted all three set points they had in the match.

Hames said she doesn’t think the Huskers need to play perfectly against OSU, but play consistently and not have a lot of lows. 

“I’m excited and I think our team’s gonna go out there and play Nebraska volleyball,” she said. “The Big Ten’s on the line, so we’re gonna go for it.”

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