CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the second straight weekend, the Nebraska volleyball team knocked a Big Ten team from the ranks of the unbeaten as the Huskers defeated No. 7 Illinois, 3-1 (25-14, 19-25, 25-17, 25-19), in front of a crowd of 3,569 at Huff Hall on Saturday night.
The third-ranked Huskers (13-1, 4-0 Big Ten) extended their win streak to 13 matches and have won a nation-leading 10 straight matches on the road. Nebraska has won 18 straight Big Ten matches dating back to last season, and Saturday's win came against the previously unbeaten Illini, now 14-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten. Last week, Nebraska beat then-undefeated Michigan.
Mikaela Foecke had 13 kills and 11 digs while hitting .321 to lead the Huskers. Callie Schwarzenbach had a career-high nine kills on 11 swings (.818) with eight blocks. Lexi Sun also had nine kills with four blocks. Jazz Sweet and Lauren Stivrins both had eight kills. Sweet had five blocks, and Stivrins had four blocks and three aces. Nicklin Hames coordinated the balanced attack with 42 assists. Kenzie Maloney led NU with 13 digs.
The Huskers hit .271 and their nation-leading defense held Illinois to a season-low .157 hitting percentage. NU out-blocked Illinois 14-7 and had a big advantage at the service line with eight aces and five errors compared to two aces and eight errors for the Illini.
Jacqueline Quade led Illinois with 22 kills. Beth Prince added 12.
Set 1: The first set was tightly contested early with neither team able to go ahead by more than two through 24 rallies. But a kill by Stivrins made it 13-11 and Hayley Densberger served an 8-0 run, which included an ace, to make it 20-11 Huskers. NU went on to take the set 25-14 with Stivrins serving back-to-back aces to end the set, giving her three total. Foecke had six kills and a block, and NU out-hit the Illini .478 to .069.
Set 2: Nebraska went up 8-4 with a pair of blocks by Schwarzenbach and Sweet to start off the set. But Illinois rallied to take an 18-14 lead after a 5-0 run. A service error and a kill by Foecke cut the lead to 18-16, but the Illini answered with a sideout each time the Huskers got within two. Illinois finished off the 25-19 win on a 4-0 run, out-hitting the Huskers .324 to .094.
Set 3: Kills by Sun and Schwarzenbach, a trio of blocks and an ace by Maloney gave the Huskers a quick 7-2 start. But the Illini began chipping away at the lead once again, and a pair of Prince kills began a 4-0 run that tied the set at 10-10. The Illini took their first lead at 12-11, but a block by Sun and Schwarzenbach, followed by a kill by Sweet, a kill by Schwarzenbach and an ace by Sun restored a 15-12 Husker lead. Ahead 18-15, the Huskers took control with a 6-0 run to go up 24-15. Foecke served the run and had a kill and an ace, while Stivrins had a kill and back-to-back blocks with Sun and Hames. Stivrins tipped home a kill to end the set at 25-17. The Huskers responded from their second-set defeat by hitting .321 in set three and holding Illinois to .118.
Set 4: Nebraska's block got them off to a strong start once again with Schwarzenbach combining with Hames and then Sweet for a 2-0 edge early on. A kill by Schwarzenbach and an ace by Densberger helped extend the lead to 7-3, and a kill by Sun forced an Illinois timeout as the Huskers led 9-4. Illinois trailed by six before pulling within 13-11 after a 4-0 spurt. But Sweet earned sideout for Nebraska and Illinois hit the antenna to make it 15-11. The Illini pulled within two again, but Foecke and Sun posted back-to-back kills for a 19-15 Husker lead. The teams traded sideouts for the next four rallies before an Illini hitting error and a block by Schwarzenbach and Sun made it 23-17. The Huskers finished off the 25-19 win on a Sweet kill.
Up Next: The Huskers are back home for three straight Big Ten home matches, beginning with Iowa on Wednesday at 6 p.m.