Lauren Stivrins has been one of the best servers for the Nebraska volleyball team this season.
But during the third set of Saturday’s 25-19, 25-12, 25-4 sweep of Missouri State she never got to show her stuff. That’s how well things were going. The Huskers were winning so many points in a row that they never got to Stivrins’ spot at the end of the serving rotation.
“I didn’t even serve,” said Stivrins of the third set.
Nebraska's 25-4 win in set three matched its most decisive win in the 25-point rally scoring era (2001-present). The Huskers also won 25-4 against Louisiana-Monroe in 2013. And while Missouri State isn’t ranked, it swept its first two matches of the Husker Invite, which Nebraska hadn’t done.
In the third set Nicklin Hames served a 4-0 run, Mikaela Foecke served a 6-0 run and Kenzie Maloney served a 4-0 run. The players knew they were playing well, but said they weren’t always aware of the score.
Hames didn’t realize how big the Huskers’ lead was until the score was 20-3.
“We were so in the zone and connecting with each other. It made it a lot of fun,” she said.
“That was crazy. I’ve never beat a team that bad,” Stivrins added.
Nebraska (9-1) won the tournament with a 3-0 record, and has won nine consecutive matches. Maloney was named the tournament MVP, coming after she had 17 digs in the final match. Foecke, Hames and Stivrins also made the all-tournament team.
Nebraska dominated the final 2½ sets on Saturday and had a season-best .500 hitting percentage. Nebraska had just four hitting errors on 84 attempts with 46 kills.
“I can tell you this: We had four errors in hitting warmups with no block on an open net,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “So that’s pretty good, and that’s what I mean when I say we got in a really good rhythm.”
Each of the Huskers’ hitters had some eye-popping stats. Stivrins had 11 kills on 14 attempts and a career-best .714 hitting percentage. Foecke also had 11 kills and hit .478 without an error. Lexi Sun had nine kills and hit .368. Jazz Sweet had eight kills and hit. 500. Freshman Callie Schwarzenbach extended her strong weekend, getting five kills with no errors. She also had a match-high nine blocks.
This was just the second match with the Huskers’ reformatted lineup since Sun returned from an injury after missing the first eight matches of the season. It already worked much better.
“It’s just getting easier and easier to play with these girls on the court,” Stivrins said. “We’ve been working really hard on building our relationships on and off the court. Lexi and I are roommates, so when we come on it’s very easy, and very natural. She just fits right in with this team, so it’s been great.”
With Sun in the lineup Nebraska has another player who’s hard to defend because she can execute all the shots, instead of just blasting away.
“Watching her play the last two matches you can tell she is a very experienced player,” Cook said. “She sees the block really well, she knows what’s going on up there, she mixes everything up.”
Cook says he’s still learning about Sun as a player, but shared his most powerful comments about her since she arrived on campus this summer. And he did so just as Nebraska gets ready to begin Big Ten Conference play this week, and chase another championship.
“I think Lexi wants to be great,” Cook said. “I think she’s on a mission to become a great player. Maybe up until now she’s been told how great she is. I think now deep down she wants to become great, and she’s going to work really hard.”