UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 14th-ranked Nebraska volleyball team handed No. 2 Penn State its first sweep in Rec Hall in 14 years as the Huskers upset the previously unbeaten Nittany Lions on Friday night, 26-24, 25-19, 25-20, in front of a crowd of 3,763.
The Huskers (8-3, 1-0 Big Ten) won their sixth straight match against Penn State and gave the Nittany Lions (10-1, 0-1 Big Ten) their first 3-0 loss at home since Oct. 18, 2003 against Minnesota.
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Seniors Annika Albrecht, Briana Holman and Kelly Hunter led the charge for the inspired Huskers. Albrecht had a career-high 19 kills on .400 hitting and added six digs and four blocks. Holman, who was questionable to play leading up to the match with an ankle injury, had a season-high 13 kills and hit .750. She also had three blocks. Hunter had 39 assists, six kills and nine digs. Mikaela Foecke and Lauren Stivrins each added eight kills.
The Husker attack was sharp all night as they hit .347, the highest by a Penn State opponent this season. The defense was just as strong, holding the Nittany Lions to a season-low .227 hitting percentage. Nebraska won the digs battle, 51 to 43, and edged Penn State in blocks, 7.0 to 6.5. Kenzie Maloney had 12 digs, and Sydney Townsend added 10.
Simone Lee had 15 kills and 13 digs to lead the Nittany Lions.
The Huskers led early after Hunter opened the match with a kill and NU proceeded to connect on five kills in seven attacks for a 7-4 advantage. Penn State drew even at 9-9 before Stivrins terminated across the court and Foecke added a kill. Holman scored the next four points for the Huskers via kills and put NU ahead 15-13 at the media timeout. Penn State tied the set again at 16-16 on a kill by Lee, but Stivrins answered again for the Huskers.
The teams engaged in a sideout battle until Penn State took a 20-19 lead, its first of the set. After a timeout, Sweet posted a kill and Penn State hit wide to put NU back in front, 21-20. Albrecht tacked on her sixth kill and the Huskers led 22-20 before Penn State took a timeout. It made little difference, however, as Albrecht pounded another kill on the next point. Lee killed for Penn State to end Foecke's service run and then added another to cut it to 23-22 Huskers.
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Holman gained set point for the Big Red after Hunter handled a tough pass and, while off balance, set Holman for a kill. The Nittany Lions scored two straight to tie the set at 24-24, but they served long for NU's third set point. And the Huskers didn't let that one slip away, as Stivrins and Hunter combined for a block to nab the 26-24 win. The Huskers won the hitting battle .364 to .250.
Holman and Albrecht took over in set two as they accounted for a 5-0 run with three straight kills and then went in on two straight blocks for an 8-4 Husker lead. Hunter put down back-to-back kills to put the Huskers up 13-9. NU led 15-12 at the media timeout after another kill by Hunter. After the media timeout, Holman and Foecke tallied back-to-back kills to make it 17-12 and force a Penn State timeout. Penn State drew within 19-17 on a kill by Lee, and the Huskers used a timeout.
Albrecht responded with her 12th kill of the match, and Stivrins also terminated for a 21-17 Husker advantage. After a PSU timeout, Albrecht once again found an open spot on the floor for a 22-18 lead. Albrecht and Foecke finished off the 25-19 win as the Huskers hit .390. In the second set alone, Holman and Albrecht combined for 12 kills and teamed up for two blocks.
Nebraska came out on the attack once again in the third set and went up 9-6 after a pair of blocks, one by Sweet and Stivrins and one by Albrecht and Stivrins. Penn State cut it to 14-13 before an Albrecht kill and a block by Stivrins and Albrecht. Later, Stivrins pounded a kill for an 18-15 lead.
The Nittany Lions got within 18-17, but Stivrins came up big as she did all night to give the Huskers a two-point edge again. Holman's 13th kill of the match made it 22-19 Huskers. Albrecht added back-to-back kills for match point, and the Huskers clinched the sweep on her 19th and final kill of the night.