Feb 20, 2021 3:25 PM

Huskers lose first top-5 battle with Minnesota

Posted Feb 20, 2021 3:25 PM

By: NU Athletic Communications

  LINCOLN, Neb. - The No. 4 Nebraska volleyball team fell to No. 5 Minnesota 3-1 on Friday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. 

The Huskers (6-1) suffered from slow starts in the first three sets and dropped sets one and three, 25-15 and 26-24. In set two, NU was able to rally from an 8-2 deficit to win 25-20. The Huskers held a late lead in set four at 22-21, but Minnesota (9-0) ended the set with a 4-1 spurt to take the match. 

Minnesota hit .203 for the match, while Nebraska hit .150. The Golden Gophers tied the Devaney Center record with 20 blocks on the night, led by Regan Pittman's career-high 14 blocks. Stephanie Samedy had 27 kills to lead the Gophers. 

Nebraska was led by Lauren Stivrins' 16 kills on .367 hitting. Madi Kubik added 15 kills and 13 digs while hitting .300. Lexi Sun had 11 kills, 11 digs and three blocks. Kayla Caffey chipped in five kills and five blocks. 

Nicklin Hames had 44 assists and 18 digs. Kenzie Knuckles had 17 digs, while Keonilei Akana had 14. 

The Huskers out-killed Minnesota 57-51 and had a slight edge in digs at 76-73. The Huskers committed three more service errors and had one fewer ace, and the Gophers had the decisive edge in blocks (20-8).

The teams will play again on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Devaney Center. The match will be televised on the Big Ten Network, streamed on the FoxSports platform and can be heard on the Husker Sports Network. 

Set 1: Minnesota jumped out to a 6-1 lead with three kills on its first three attacks. Stivrins put down two kills and Minnesota committed back-to-back attack errors to let the Huskers cut it to 10-7. But Minnesota pulled ahead 15-8 after two kills and a block on three straight rallies. The Minnesota lead went to double digits at 20-10 after a 5-0 spurt and the Golden Gophers finished the set ahead by 10, 25-15. Nebraska hit just .056 in the first set, while Minnesota hit .278 and had five blocks. 

Set 2: The Huskers endured another slow start, falling behind 8-2. Kubik started a 4-0 run to pull the Huskers within 8-6. Hames had a kill and a block with Stivrins, and Sun tallied a kill as well. A solo block by Caffey cut it to 10-9, and she teamed up with Hames for another block to keep the Big Red within one at 11-10. The Big Red drew even at 13-13 and kills by Zuhn and Stivrins gave NU its first lead since the first point of the match, 15-14. After a media timeout, the Huskers won a long rally when Kubik recorded her sixth kill of the night, and Stivrins put home a kill after Hames perfectly played a ricochet off the scoreboard. Kubik and Stivrins continued to spark the Huskers with back-to-back kills to make it 19-15. After the Gophers cut it to 19-17, a service error followed by back-to-back kills by Stivrins increased NU's lead to five, 22-17. Kubik terminated out of the back row and Minnesota committed a pair of errors and the Huskers won 25-20 wo even the match at 1-1.

Set 3: Just as in the first two sets, Minnesota bolted out of the gate to a 7-1 lead. Hames and Kubik tallied kills to get the Big Red within 9-6. Sun struck for back-to-back kills, and Zuhn added a pair of kills and a block with Caffey as NU went on a 7-0 run to take a 15-12 lead on the serve by Hames. The Gophers answered back with two kills by Samedy and a block to tie the score at 17-17. With the score tied 19-19, Sun and Hames posted back-to-back kills to make it 21-19, and Sun and Caffey stuffed an attack by Samedy to make it 22-19 and force a Minnesota timeout. The Gophers pulled within 23-22, but Zuhn terminated from the left side for set point for Nebraska. But the Huskers hit long and Samedy painted the line to tie the score at 24-24. After a Husker timeout, Samedy connected again to earn Minnesota set point at 25-24, and the Gophers won 26-24 via a block. 

Set 4: Knuckles and Akana combined to serve three aces and a kill and solo block by Stivrins helped the Big Red to a 7-5 lead. Minnesota went on a 6-0 run that included three blocks in a row by Pittman to go up 12-9. A kill by Samedy made it 17-12 Minnesota, but Kubik brought the Huskers back with three more kills as NU rallied to tie the set at 18-18 after a 6-1 run. Minnesota went back in front 20-18, but the Huskers tied it 20-20 on a kill by Sun. Caffey and Sun put NU in front briefly at 22-21, but the Gophers answered with the next two points to go up 23-22. Caffey terminated a kill after a timeout, but Melani Shaffmaster dumped a kill for set point for the Gophers, and Nebraska hit long to give Minnesota the 25-23 win.