Nebraska freshman outside hitter Madi Kubik had the best match of her college career in leading the Huskers to a four-set win against No. 20 Purdue on Wednesday.
Kubik had a season-best 22 kills in the fifth-ranked Huskers’ 25-21, 25-16, 23-25, 25-15 victory at the Devaney Sports Center.
It was the third straight win for Nebraska (14-2, 6-1 Big Ten), and came during the last of four straight home matches.
Kubik reached her total on 51 attempts, and finished with a .314 hitting percentage. She was averaging a .178 hitting percentage. Her 22 kills tied Mikaela Foecke's 2015 freshman high of 22 as the most by an NU freshman since Sarah Pavan had 35 in 2004.
Kubik had seven kills in the first set, and she was doing it with all of the attacks, getting kills from the back row, cross-court shots and down the line. And Kubik was especially good in the second set, when she had six kills on 10 attempts with no hitting errors.
Like most freshmen, Kubik has had some up-and-down play this season, but she’s also had a lot of impressive kills that showed that she was capable of a match like this.
“It felt really good,” Kubik said “My teammates are amazing and (setter Nicklin Hames) was putting up so many hitable balls and everyone was working their butts off, so it’s easy to play next to them. They’re great.”
Hames was impressed by what Kubik did.
“When they’re hot like that you keep giving them the ball,” Hames said. “They weren’t stopping her, so she did a great job.”
Hames also had a great match with 48 assists, four kills, 11 digs, one block and one ace serve. She set the Huskers to a .284 hitting percentage.
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Kubik had 11 more kills than any other Husker. Lexi Sun added 11 kills, including six in the final set. Lauren Stivrins had 10 kills, and Jazz Sweet eight.
Hames and Kubik each said Stivrins deserved credit for how effective Kubik and the other Husker hitters were. Stivrins is always so good, so Purdue focused a lot of its defense on the All-American middle blocker.
“(Purdue was) scheming on (Stivrins) every single ball,” Kubik said. “Lexi and I were one-on-one so many times because Lauren and Callie (Schwarzenbach) were pulling the block a lot.”
Nebraska ranks fifth nationally in defense, and was good again in that area for most of the match. The Huskers had eight blocks and 57 digs, and held Purdue to a .099 hitting percentage. Nebraska’s last three opponents have each had their worst hitting match of the season against the Huskers, and each hit under .100. Schwarzenbach had five blocks, and Stivrins three.
After losing the third set, Nebraska got to playing as well as it did in the first two sets in winning the final set convincingly. Nebraska hit .536 in the fourth set.
“I thought our team played three really solid games tonight,” said Nebraska coach John Cook. “It got away from us in game (three), but I love how we responded in game four. And again, our serve, block and defense put a lot of pressure on them.”
Nebraska fought off three Purdue set points in the third set with a kill by Sweet, Kubik blasting a kill to the back corner of the court and a Purdue hitting error. But Purdue finished off the set on its fourth set point when a good pass led to a kill by middle blocker Shavona Cuttino.
The fourth set was close, too, before Nebraska surged ahead with a 5-0 run for a 16-10 lead. Purdue was pressing against Nebraska’s good defense and made a couple of hitting errors, and Kubik got a kill with a shot off the blockers’ hands. The run ended with a block by Schwarzenbach.
Outside hitter Caitlyn Newton led Purdue (11-5, 3-4 Big Ten) with 17 kills. Nebraska has won seven straight matches against Purdue, coming over six seasons.
With the 20th-ranked Boilermakers focusing on Lauren Stivrins, Husker freshman Madi Kubik blasted a career-high 22 kills in No. 5 Nebraska's f…