LINCOLN, Neb. – For the second night in a row, the No. 4 Nebraska volleyball team and No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes went to five sets at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. But unlike on Friday night, this time the Buckeyes escaped with a 3-2 win over the Huskers to split the weekend series.
Ohio State won the first set, 25-20, but Nebraska took set two, 25-22. The Huskers went up 2-1 after a 25-21 third set victory, but Ohio State extended the match with a 25-21 win in set four. The Buckeyes were two points better in the fifth, winning 15-13 to improve to 13-1 on the season. Nebraska fell to 10-2. After just one lead change and six tie scores through the first four sets combined, the back-and-forth fifth set featured four lead changes and 10 ties
Lexi Sun had a season high of 22 kills to go with eight digs and two aces. Lauren Stivrins totaled 16 kills on .400 hitting with five blocks. Madi Kubik had 13 kills and 10 digs. Kayla Caffey chipped in seven kills, while Jazz Sweet, Riley Zuhn and Nicklin Hames all had three. Hames put up 57 assists, a season high, as well as 14 digs.
Ohio State hit .280, while Nebraska hit .244, and the Buckeyes doubled up the Huskers in blocks (10-5) and aces (6-3). Kenzie Knuckles and Keonilei Akana both had 16 digs as NU out-dug Ohio State, 65-57.
Emily Londot had 18 kills and 10 digs for OSU. Vanja Bukilic added 16 kills. Rylee Rader had 10 kills and eight blocks.
Set 1: Stivrins had the Huskers first four kills of the set, but Ohio State built a 10-6 lead to start the match. A kill and ace by Sun cut it to 10-8, but the Buckeyes extended the lead to five at 14-9 after a 4-1 spurt. Zuhn and Kubik had kills, and Kubik teamed with Stivrins for a block to cut it to one at 14-13. Sun tallied another kill and an ace on consecutive rallies to keep the deficit at one, 19-18, but Ohio State answered again to go back up 22-18 and closed out the set with a 25-20 win. The Buckeyes hit .483, while NU hit .258.
Set 2: Stivrins dominated the early part of the set once again with two blocks and two kills to spark a 5-1 Husker start. Caffey terminated twice to make it 8-4, but Ohio State used a pair of kills and an ace by Gabby Gonzales to rally to tie the set at 13-13. A service error and attacking error by the Buckeyes restored a 15-13 Husker advantage at the media break. The Buckeyes tied the set again at 17-17, but Stivrins and Sun posted kills to make it 19-17 Nebraska. Ohio State pulled within 22-21 before Caffey came up with two huge kills for the Big Red to make it 23-20. The Huskers then earned set point off an Ohio State hitting error before the Buckeyes cut it to 24-22. But Caffey put the set away at 25-22 with her seventh kill. Nebraska hit .189 in set two but was much better defensively, holding OSU to .100.
Set 3: Sun opened the set with back-to-back kills and the Huskers never surrendered the lead the rest of the set. Kubik had a pair of kills to push the lead to 11-6, and she tacked on two more before Hames dumped a kill to the floor to put NU ahead by six, 21-15. After Ohio State scored three points in a row, Stivrins sided out for the Huskers to make it 22-18. The Buckeyes continued their comeback attempt with two more kills to cut it to 22-20, but Kubiks fifth kill of the set made it 23-20 and Ohio State hit into the net for set point for the Big Red. Suns 13th kill was the set winner, 25-21. The Huskers hit .395, and OSU hit .294 in set three.
Set 4: Ohio State claimed a 10-4 lead as the Huskers were blocked four times early on. An ace by Knuckles cut it to 11-8, but Ohio State extended the lead back to five at 16-11. The Huskers got no closer than three points the rest of the set as Ohio State extended the match to five sets with a 25-21 win.
Set 5: Ohio State claimed an 8-6 lead at the media timeout after back-to-back kills by Bukilic. The Buckeyes came out of the break with a block to go up 9-6, but Kubik earned sideout for the Big Red. Bukilic answered to make it 10-7, but Sweet and Kubik pounded back-to-back-to-back kills to tie the score at 10-10. Then Stivrins terminated on the slide for an 11-10 Husker lead, and Ohio State took a timeout to try and stop the Huskers 4-0 run. Bukilic did just that with a kill, but Kubik came up huge for the Big Red again with her fourth kill of the set. Lauren Witte tied the set for Ohio State, but Stivrins made it 13-12 on the slide again. Londot struck back for the Buckeyes for a 13-13 tie, and the Huskers hit long to give Ohio State match point. The Buckeyes completed the win at 15-13 on a kill by Rader.
Up Next: Nebraska plays its home-and-home series with Iowa next week. The Huskers visit Iowa City for a 7 p.m. match on Wednesday, and the teams will play at the Devaney Center next Saturday at 6 p.m.