The Nebraska volleyball team took back the momentum from Michigan in the fifth set Friday and won another match that went the distance to remain perfect in Big Ten Conference play.
Senior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson had 23 kills and freshman Kadie Rolfzen added 13 to lead ninth-ranked Nebraska to a 25-13, 28-26, 10-25, 20-25, 15-8 win against No. 17 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Huskers (12-2, 5-0) also needed five sets to win their last match, against Wisconsin.
Nebraska checked off the first part of a tough weekend road trip. NU plays at No. 7 Michigan State on Saturday in a matchup of the two teams tied for the Big Ten lead.
Friday, Michigan State swept Iowa for its 14th straight victory. Saturday’s match against Nebraska is the first at Michigan State featuring two top-10 teams since the 1996 season.
Against Michigan, Nebraska coach John Cook said the Huskers “put on a clinic” in winning the first set. The Huskers had 17 kills on 25 attempts with two errors for a .600 hitting percentage.
Some confusion with the Huskers’ rotation in the second set put the Huskers at a disadvantage, but NU still managed to fight back to win the set.
Michigan showed why it was an NCAA Tournament Final Four team last season by coming back to win the third and fourth sets.
Nebraska played seven freshmen, and Cook said they may think this is still like high school or club volleyball, where a team will give up after trailing 2-0. Michigan didn't.
The Huskers came up big in the fifth set, with contributions from several players. Kadie Rolfzen had three kills in the set. Sophomore middle blocker Meghan Haggerty and Robinson had two kills and Cecilia Hall added one.
The Huskers used a 5-0 run to take a 13-6 lead. Haggerty and Kadie Rolfzen had kills to end the match.
“In set five, we did great. It’s nice to win set five after losing here last year,” Cook said on his post-match radio show.
In the fifth set, Nebraska hit .533, while holding Michigan to .000.
Just like when Nebraska beat Wisconsin in five sets last week, Cook was pleased with the play of several of the freshmen in the fifth set.
“We’re going to be really scary if we play at that level all the time,” he said.
Cook challenged Haggerty to take over the match late because she was facing only one blocker. Haggerty finished with nine kills and six blocks.
Nebraska had a season-high 18 blocks, led by nine from Hall. Kadie Rolfzen had seven and Amber Rolfzen five.
Jennifer Cross had 13 kills and Lexi Erwin 12 for Michigan (11-5, 1-4 Big Ten).
Robinson had another double-double with match highs in both kills (23) and digs (17). She had only three hitting errors in 49 attempts and hit .408.
Junior setter Mary Pollmiller had 46 assists for the Huskers, who outhit Michigan .238-.203.
— Brent C. Wagner