Nebraska outside hitter Lexi Sun had 14 kills on a .444 hitting percentage to lead the seventh-ranked Huskers to a mostly easy 25-21, 25-18, 25-14 win against Iowa on Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa.
Sun is having a great second season at Nebraska. She leads the Huskers with 305 kills and has reached double-digit kills in all 14 Big Ten matches. Sun also has a .292 hitting percentage after hitting .195 last season.
“The thing that Lexi is doing is she’s hitting all of the shots,” said Nebraska coach John Cook in his postgame radio interview. “She’s using the whole court, and (hitting off) the block. So she’s really hard to defend. (Iowa was) trying to adjust defense on her, and she just kept hitting a different shot every time they would adjust.”
Nebraska wasn’t initially playing as well as it had during recent wins against Penn State and Northwestern, but got rolling early during the second set. NU still had a .420 hitting percentage for the match and held Iowa to a .103 hitting percentage. Nebraska had 47 kills, and Iowa just 28.
NU's hitting percentage was its second-best of the season. All five Nebraska hitters had a hitting percentage better than .330. Nicklin Hames guided the Husker attack with 36 assists, and also had two kills and six digs.
And on defense Nebraska outblocked the Hawkeyes 9-2.
“We got better as the match went on, and I thought we did some good things,” Cook said. “We hit (.420), so we can’t complain much about that.”
It’s the fourth straight win for Nebraska, and with three weeks to go in the Big Ten season, Nebraska is tied for third place with a 12-2 record. And after unranked Ohio State beat No. 4 Wisconsin on Friday, Nebraska is just one match behind Wisconsin and Minnesota, who are tied for first.
It was a good match for the Husker outside hitters. Freshman Madi Kubik added nine kills on .333 hitting while playing her first college match in her home state.
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Lauren Stivrins had five blocks, and Callie Schwarzenbach had four. Schwarzenbach is playing with an injury after she broke a bone in her hand during practice earlier in the week.
Stivrins also had eight kills on 10 attempts for a .600 hitting percentage.
“Lauren just had a couple errors right at the beginning, and then she was unstoppable,” Cook said.
Jazz Sweet added nine kills, and Schwarzenbach had five kills and hit .364.
Nebraska had to rally at the end to win the first set, after trailing for parts of the set. But after the set was tied at 20, Nebraska won the next four points, and finished the set on a 5-1 run.
Nebraska had a bad start to the second set, and after the Huskers were aced and lost a point for having a player step off the court just before the serve, Cook called a timeout. The Huskers got much better after that wake-up call, and won 11 of the next 15 rallies to take control.
Iowa (9-16, 3-11) has been swept in each of its last four matches, against Penn State, Rutgers, Illinois and Nebraska. Outside hitter Griere Hughes had 12 kills for the Hawkeyes.
There was a crowd of 4,737 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, including hundreds of Nebraska fans. One group of fans left Columbus at 4 a.m. on Saturday to travel to the match. Another fan told Cook they traveled there by private plane, and were using the same airport as the team’s charter airplane.
“(Nebraska fans) come here I think because they can get tickets,” Cook said.
-- Brent C. Wagner