CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team finished its three-game road stretch to open Big Ten play with a 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 win at No. 24 Illinois on Wednesday before 2,911 fans at Huff Hall.
Nebraska (12-0, 3-0 Big Ten) took care of business with a .302 hitting percentage to just .202 for Illinois. The Husker back row was dominant, as NU put together a 47-33 advantage in digs. The Huskers won their 28th straight match overall and 11th straight road match, equaling their longest road win streak since 26 straight from 2003-2005.
Kadie Rolfzen had 12 kills, nine digs and three blocks with a .391 hitting percentage. Mikaela Foecke had nine kills, and Briana Holman and Andie Malloy each had eight. Amber Rolfzen posted six kills and a match-high six blocks, leading the Big Red to a 9-7 blocks advantage. Kelly Hunter had 38 assists, seven digs and four kills.
Justine Wong-Orantes led the Huskers with 11 digs, while Annika Albrecht had 10.
Illinois (9-5, 2-1 Big Ten) saw its seven-match win streak come to an end. Jacqueline Quade led the Fighting Illini with 14 kills.
Set 1: The Huskers used a 7-0 run to gain an 11-3 advantage, keyed by two Malloy kills, two blocks by the Rolfzen twins and an ace by Wong-Orantes. After Illinois got within 13-8, five different Huskers struck for consecutive kills to give NU a 17-8 lead via a 5-0 run. Illinois strung together three straight points to cut the score to 21-17 before the Rolfzens’ third block of the set ended the rally. A Hunter kill earned set point for NU at 24-17, and the Huskers won 25-18 on a block by Amber Rolfzen and Malloy. Nebraska hit .265 and shut down the Illini attack to .097 hitting.
Set 2: Holman and Kadie Rolfzen struck early, and Malloy and Holman teamed up for a stuff and 3-0 lead. Illinois rallied and took its first lead of the match at 7-6 and then built a 15-11 lead thanks in part to three kills by Quade. But the Huskers answered with a 9-2 run to go ahead 20-17. A Kadie Rolfzen kill and ace brought the Huskers back within 15-14, forcing an Illinois timeout. Another Kadie Rolfzen kill evened the set at 16-16 before Illinois hit into the net to make it 17-16 Huskers. After Illinois drew even, Foecke terminated on three straight rallies for a 20-17 edge. The Huskers maintained the lead the rest of the set and finished off the 25-22 win after an Amber Rolfzen/Malloy block and Illinois hitting error.
Set 3: Nebraska battled back from an early deficit to tie the set 5-5 on a dump by Hunter. A series of great digs by the Huskers led to a Kadie Rolfzen kill that made it 8-7 Big Red. A kill by Foecke and an Illinois hitting error pushed the Huskers’ lead to 10-7. An Amber Rolfzen kill put the Huskers in front 15-12 at the media timeout, and after the timeout Hunter and Amber Rolfzen stuffed an Illini attack to make it 16-12. Holman powered home a kill to maintain the four-point lead at 20-16. Nebraska used a timeout after its lead was cut to 23-21, and Foecke notched a solo stuff after the break for match point at 24-21. Holman finished off the sweep.
Up Next: The Huskers play their Big Ten home opener when No. 19 Ohio State visits Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. match. Fans are reminded that the start time was changed from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate those coming from the 2:30 p.m. football game. The match will be televised on NET and carried on the Husker Sports Network.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Freshman Jacqueline Quaderegistered a match-high 14 kills on 30 swings for a .367 hitting percentage, but the No. 24 Fighting Illini volleyball fell to defending NCAA Champion and No. 1-ranked Nebraska, 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-21) on IlliNOISE Night at Huff Hall on Wednesday (Sept. 28).
The Illini faithful, which numbered over 2,900 fans including the full Marching Illini Band, helped set a new IlliNOISE Night sound record with a decibel reading of 112 dB in between the first and second sets.
With the setback, the Illini snap their seven-match win streak and move to 9-5 and 2-1 in the Big Ten Conference. The Huskers improve to 12-0 and 3-0 in the league to push their NCAA-leading win streak to 28 matches.
“I thought at times we played well,” said head coachKevin Hambly. “We just couldn’t sustain a level with them yet. We hit .257 in the third set and at one point we were both hitting .324. I thought offensively we did some nice things; it was just defensively we didn’t execute. The first thing is service-wise. They are a very good passing team. It was tough for us to get through their system and they really got going in the middle of the court and that put a lot of pressure on us. We tried to get out of it, kind of had a little bit of a scramble, but I thought we played really well at times, but at times couldn’t sustain it with them, not at the level that they can play.”
Following an early 2-2 tie in the opening set, the Huskers sprinted ahead with a 9-1 run, including seven-straight points to take an 11-3 lead. An ace by sophomore Ali Bastianelli closed the gap to 12-7 midway through, but another five-straight points from Nebraska pushed the edge to 18-8. Continuing to fight, the Illini closed within 21-17 as a block from Bastianelli and senior Naya Crittenden capped a 9-3 run. The Huskers then responded by taking the next four of five points for the first set win.
In the second stanza, the Huskers continued where they left off and jumped out to a 4-1 advantage, but the Illini came back to even the score at 5-5 on a service ace from freshman Caroline Welsh. The set would see four more ties before the Illini used a 5-1 run to take a 14-10 lead following a Quade and Bastianelli block. After Nebraska knotted things at 17-17, three-straight points from the visitors gave them a 20-17 advantage. The Illini closed within 23-22 on a Quade kill, but back-to-back UI errors gave the Huskers a 2-0 lead in the match.
Out of the break, it was a back-and-forth affair as neither team could build a significant lead until the Huskers grabbed a four-point edge at 16-12 following a block from Amber Rolfzen and Kelly Hunter. Nebraska continued to hold its four-point lead at 22-18, but the Illini battled back to 23-21 with the next three of four points, including kills from Quade and senior Michelle Strizak. Despite the Illini comeback, the Huskers then finished off the match with back-to-back points.
Joining Quade with double figure kills was Strizak with 10 on the night, while classmate Katie Stadickadded seven on 14 attacks and only two errors for a .357 hitting percentage.
Bastianelli notched five blocks, with Quade and Crittenden contributing three each.
The Illini next open a three-match road swing, first heading to College Park, Md., to take on Maryland in a 12 p.m. CT match on Sunday (Oct. 2) in the XFINITY Center.