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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | November 2, 2019

How No. 8 Nebraska volleyball downed No. 7 Penn State in a top 10 rivalry matchup

College volleyball all-time lineups: Penn State dream team

No. 8 Nebraska took down No. 7 Penn State in a five-set thriller in Devaney Center (25-18, 18-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13). This Big Ten rivalry matchup came down to the wire in the fifth set, and was finished off by a monster kill from Madi Kubik. 

The Huskers ultimately outhit the Nittany Lions .210 to .166, and displayed an impressively balanced offense. Four players tallied double-digit kills for the Huskers, with Lexi Sun leading the way with 20 kills. Freshman Kubik followed with 15 kills, and Lauren Stivrins and Jazz Sweet had 14 and 13 kills, respectively. 


Jonni Parker had 16 kills for Penn State after coming back from a slow start, and Tori Gorrell was strong all match with 12 kills for the Nittany Lions. 

Nebraska pulled off this big top-10 win after falling to Purdue last week and re-evaluating for this week. Both teams were looking to prove their ability to take down top-notch teams this season, and the Huskers did just that when it came down to it. 


This was the fourth consecutive time that this matchup was pushed to five sets, if that says anything about this Big Ten rivalry matchup. Ultimately, Nebraska had some more momentum swings in their favor, a sell-out crowd behind it, and too many offensive weapons to be stopped. 

Check out below for a set-by-set recap of the five-setter: 

Penn State vs Nebraska- Score, live updates

Nebraska wins it in five sets, 15-13 in the fifth set

Kubik came up with the game winning kill to win this huge battle after Penn State fought back for two match points. Sun led the way with 20 kills for the Huskers. 

Set 5: Nebraska 14 Penn State 13

Penn State battles through two consecutive Nebraska match points. Can they do it once more? Match point Nebraska, again. 

Set 5: Nebraska 12 Penn State 9

Sun is firing on all cylinders. Not only are they setting her up for multiple attacks, but she is finishing off the rallies in blocks. She and Callie Schwarzenbach combined for the last two Nebraska points with two huge blocks. Penn State took a timeout, and the Huskers are three points away. 

Set 5: Nebraska 10 Penn State 8

The Nittany Lions still have hope. Out of the timeout, they came up with three straight points off of a kill from Gray and two Nebraska errors. 

Set 5: Nebraska 10 Penn State 5

Another two points for the Huskers off of Penn State errors, and they take the five-point lead. One was off of another huge block from Hames. The Huskers are showing off a really well-balanced offense. Sun has 19 kills, Kubik and Stivrins have 14 and Sweet has 12. 

Set 5: Nebraska 8 Penn State 5

Sitvrins- she wants this. The All-American accounted for two of the last three Husker points, and Nebraska took a two-point lead. 

Set 5:  Nebraska 5 Penn State 4

This match is going to five sets for the fourth consecutive time in this Penn State Nebraska series. The fifth set started with two stars from the fourth set. A kill from Cathey for Penn State followed by Sun for Nebraska. Kubik got the crowd going with two back-to-back kills to take a two-point lead for the Huskers, and then Parker responded for the Nittany Lions and brought them back within one. The Huskers and Nittany Lions then alternated errors. 

Penn State rallies to win set 4, 25-21

The Nittany Lions are still alive. Cathey was huge for the Nittany Lions, and came up big late in the fourth with a big kill. Penn State then had two back-to-back service aces by Keeton Holcomb to take the fourth set and push this match to five. 

Set 4: Penn State 21 Nebraska 19

Now, this is some Big Ten volleyball. The Huskers are trying to end it right here and the Nittany Lions are trying to stay alive. Sun, is swinging it for the Huskers, and has a monster kill to tie the match up at 19. Both offenses are performing well, but there are a lot of errors in this set though. Penn State has 20 and Nebraska has 23. Cathey hammered one in for Penn State and then a bad Nebraska set gave the Nittany Lions a two point advantage. 

Set 4: Penn State 17 Nebraska 15

Penn State maintains the lead, but the Huskers don't want to take this match to five. Stivrins turned it on with a huge block, and moved to 12 kills on the match. The Huskers have a lot of players involved offensively with big numbers, and they were able to tie it up at 15 before Penn State took the lead again from a Nebraska service error and a Cathey block. 

Here is that huge Stivrins block: 


Set 4: 

Check out this monster block by Nebraska's setter, Nicklin Hames: 


Set 4: Penn State 8 Nebraska 4

Penn State was able to rebound in the second set, will they be able to do it again in the fourth? Parker came out with a big swing for the first kill and point of the set. The Nittany Lions showed their grit in this must-win set and went on a 5-1 run, forcing the Huskers to take a timeout. Penn State leads by four. 


Nebraska moves to 2-1, took third set 25-21

That was a tough battle, but the Huskers prevailed. Penn State called a timeout down by three, 23-20, but then came out of the timeout with one kill from Parker, and two errors. The two timely errors gave the Huskers the win in what was ultimately a really tight, evenly matched third set. 

Set 3: Nebraska 22 Penn State 20

This is a tight one, and there is a lot of energy on both sides. Serena Gray and Cathey had two consecutive kills to bring the match within two for Penn State, then Sweet answered for the Huskers. Parker and Stivrins then alternated kills to make it 21-19 Nebraska, before Parker drilled one down to bring it within one, and then Kubik showed she could do the same for the Huskers. This set will come down to the wire. 

Set 3: Nebraska 15 Penn State 11

The Huskers own the momentum, and the crowd. They went on a 5-2 run with kills from Stivrins, Sweet, and Kubik. They're now outhitting the Nittany Lions .229 to .157. 

Set 3: Nebraska 11 Penn State 9

Kubik earned the first point for the Huskers, then Penn State took the next three to start the third. Coach Cook challenged an antennae violation and won the point, and then Stivrins had a huge block on the next play. Gorrell fired one down for the Nittany Lions, and then Sun had two consecutive kills for the Huskers. 

Penn State had two errors, followed by two Nebraska errors, and then they alternated points off of a kill from Penn State's Allyson Cathey, and then a huge Kubik kill to end a long rally for the Huskers. Stivrins hammered in one more to take the two-point lead. 

Both teams are hitting well in this set. Check out that long rally that ended in a Nebraska point: 


Set 2: Penn State takes the second set 25-18

Stivrins and Sun chipped away at the deficit for the Huskers, but Penn State was able to maintain the lead. A long rally with multiple stellar defensive saves from Kenzie Knuckles for the Huskers, ultimately went Penn State's way. Towards the end of the set, Nebraska committed three attack errors to add to Penn State's 7-2 run, until Sun put one away for the Huskers. But, Parker drilled one down for the Nittany Lions to win the set and tie the match up at 1-1. 

Parker is now leading the way for the Nittany Lions with eight kills, and this time around, the Nittany Lions outhit the Huskers .167 to .041, and the Huskers committed 10 attack errors to Penn State's five. 

Set 2: Penn State 17 Nebraska 13

The Huskers tied it up, and the crowd erupted as Nebraska went on a 3-0 run to tie the match at 13. Penn State quieted it pretty quickly though, as they answered with a 4-0 run of their own off of two Gorrell kills and two Nebraska attack errors. The Huskers took a timeout. 

Check out one of Gorrell's kills. 


Set 2: Penn State 10 Nebraska 8

Penn State came out looking a lot different than they did in the first set. They looked more like themselves, with two kills from Parker early. They took a big 7-3 lead, quieting the Devaney Center, until the Huskers responded with two big points off of back-to-back kills from Kubik and Lauren Stivrins. The teams then alternated on errors, before Sun fired again to cut the deficit to one for the Huskers. Penn State answered with two quick points to take a three-point lead again, and then Sun responded with a side-out. 


Set 1: Nebraska takes the first set 25-18

A Penn State service error gave the Huskers the first set 25-18. Nebraska outhit the Nittany Lions .406 to .091 and had three attacking errors to Penn State's seven. At first, it looked evenly matched, then Nebraska turned it on. They looked strong and confident, and Penn State was out-of-system often, due to stellar Nebraska serving. Gorrell had four kills for Penn State, but four players had negative hitting percentages, and their usual leading scorer, Jonni Parker, was held to just two kills. 

Set 1: Nebraska 23  Penn State 17

The Huskers have kept it going, and Penn State looks out of rhythm. Jazz Sweet, however, is not. She has five kills on a .400 hitting percentage, and is making a huge difference offensively and defensively for the Huskers. Nebraska is now only two away from clenching the first set. 

Set 1: Nebraska 19  Penn State 15

The Huskers took the lead back, but by a small margin. A monster swing from Lexi Sun from the back row swung the momentum to the Huskers, and they went on a 5-3 run to take the lead. After this, it got a little sloppy on both ends, with four errors in a small window. But still, the Huskers look like they are gaining some confidence offensively, with some big swings and big kills to take a four-point lead. 

Set 1: Penn State 9 Nebraska 7 

The match started out point for point, and they were tied at four. After that, Penn State went on a 4-0 run to take the lead 8-4 with a Nebraska attack error, and then two kills from Tori Gorrell and one from Jonni Parker. Coach John Cook was then forced to call a timeout to stop the run. Out of the timeout, the Huskers earned the first point off of a Penn State error, and then Penn State responded with another kill form Gorrell, then two more for the Huskers to cut the deficit to two. 

The match is underway

Here are the starting lineups for the match: 

Starting lineups for Nebraska and Penn State

Pregame: 8 p.m. ET

Get ready for a huge Big Ten rivalry matchup between No. 7 Penn State and No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln. These two teams have 12 national championships combined.

First serve will be at 8:30 p.m. ET. Both teams have something to prove in this matchup. The Nittany Lions are looking to prove that they can take down top 10 opponents this season, and Nebraska too. The Huskers will also want redemption after falling to Purdue last week.

Lexi Sun told NCAA.com that the fans always show up in Devaney Center in matches against Penn State, and that it is always a good match. So, you can expect the same tonight.

Players to watch

Penn State: 
Jonni Parker
Serena Gray
Kendall White

Lauren Stivrins
Lexi Sun
Madi Kubik 

Penn State vs. Nebraska volleyball preview

TOP MATCHUPS: Top college volleyball matches to watch in Week 10

Nebraska seeks redemption at home against a strong Penn State team. The Huskers were even higher in the rankings, as was Penn State, before they both were defeated by a hot Wisconsin team in the same first week of October. Penn State currently has notable wins over Pittsburgh (series split) and Illinois. It has lost to Stanford, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. This will be the Nittany Lions' first chance since those challenges to beat a top 10 team. 

Penn State rose in the AVCA poll after Stanford and Nebraska dropped this week, but still sits at No. 7 due to a lack of highly-ranked wins.

So high stakes here, all around. 

Penn State is currently 10-1 in the conference while Nebraska is 9-2. 


Nebraska leads the series against Penn State 22-11, dating back to 1981. They played twice in 2018, and split the series. Penn State won the first match on Oct. 13, 2018 in five sets and Nebraska won the second match on Nov. 2, 2018 in five sets. 

In that most recent matchup, Nebraska volleyball had its 250th consecutive regular season sellout, and beat the Nittany Lions in front of a crowd of 8,434. Lexi Sun had 16 kills, Lauren Stivrins had the first double-double of her career, and Jazz Sweet tallied seven kills and five blocks. Those, along with a few players who graduated, were the biggest contributors in the win. 

You can expect Saturday's matchup to be in front of a huge Nebraska crowd as well. 

EXPLAINER: The college volleyball rotation, explained

In the first matchup between the two teams in 2018, Nebraska suffered its first loss to Penn State in eight matches. It was the first time any player on the Penn State roster defeated Nebraska. Kendall White was a bright spot for the Nittany Lions' backcourt defense in the win. As for the contributing players that remain on the roster this season, Tori Gorrell tallied four blocks on .467 hitting, Jonni Parker had eight kills, seven digs and four blocks, and Serena Gray finished with eight kills and six blocks. 

How they match up, statistically 

Tale of the table
0.279 Percentage 0.264
13.6 Kills/set 13.7
12.8 Assists/set 12.8
1.5 Aces/set 1.2
151 Errors 155
0.8 Errors/set 1.1
13.1 Digs/set 15
2.3 Blocks/set 2.4

How to watch Penn State vs. Nebraska volleyball

This match will be aired on Big Ten Network and streamed on the Fox Sports App at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 2. You can also listen live here and here.

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