Huskers finish strong to No. 17 Creighton

OMAHA, Neb. — Behind the career performances of a pair of sophomores, Nebraska’s No. 2 volleyball team took over late in Wednesday’s game at No. 17 Creighton to earn a hard-fought victory 3-2 (25-18, 25-13, 25-27, 17-25, 15-9) against the Bluejays in Omaha in front of an NCAA record crowd.

Whitney Lauenstein had a career-high 25 eliminations to lead the Huskers, while Lindsay Krause tallied a career-high 16 eliminations. With Nebraska leading 5-4 in the fifth set, Krause had three kills and a block in the space of five rallies, giving the Huskers an 8-6 lead they wouldn’t give up. After Creighton closed within a point at 9-8, Krause made another kill to bring the lead back to two. A service error gave Creighton the next point, but Nebraska scored the game’s final five points, including back-to-back Lauenstein takedowns to set up match point. First-year student Hayden Kubik – who also set a career high with six kills – finished the Bluejays with one kill.

Lauenstein’s 25 kills were the most by a Husker in a match since Mikaela Foecke in 2018, and Lauenstein hit .385 in the match. Krause had four of his career-high 16 takedowns in the fifth set. Madi Kubik joined the sophomores in double-digit wins with 14, and she added a double-double with 12 digs. First-year student Bekka Allick had a career-high nine kills as Nebraska produced 78 kills in the game, 17 more than Creighton (61).

The Huskers hit .244, blocked the Bluejays 9-7 and won the dig battle 93-89. Kaitlyn Horde led all players with six blocks and five Huskers finished with double-digit digs, trailing 18 of Lexi Rodriguez and 17 each of the passers Nicklin Hames and Anni Evans. With her 17 digs, Hames moved up to fourth all-time in school history with (1,421) digs. On Wednesday night, she passed Kenzie Maloney (1,406) and Jordan Larson (1,410).

Creighton won the battle at the service line as the Bluejays had three aces and just five service errors. Nebraska had 10 service errors and no ace, marking the Huskers’ first game without a service ace since Nov. 2, 2019, against Penn State.

Nebraska improved to 6-0 with the win, while Creighton fell to 5-2 on the season. Keeley Davis beat three Bluejays in double-digit kills with 19, and she was one of five Creighton players with double-digit digs.

The teams battled in front of an NCAA regular season record crowd of 15,797 at the CHI Health Center. The attendance mark surpassed the previous record of 14,022, set by Nebraska and Creighton at the CHI Health Center in 2018. The 13 largest regular season crowds in NCAA history have all been in Nebraska and every games featuring the Huskers.

Set 1: Lauenstein had three kills and added a block to help the Huskers take a 7-4 lead. But the Bluejays scored the next three points to tie the set at 7-7. Four straight wins — by Krause, Hord, Lauenstein and Batenhorst — put the Huskers up 13-9 and forced a timeout from Creighton. After the break, Creighton hit long, then Lauenstein had his fifth kill in five swings to make it 15-9. Hord brought down two kills to give the lead at seven, 18-11, and an incredible bump set up by Knuckles well beyond the baseline found Kubik for a kill that made it 19-11 . Allick had two kills to keep the Huskers ahead by eight points, 23-15. The Huskers won the set 25-18, hitting .286 and now Creighton at .032. Lauenstein had seven kills on .600 hits. Allick was a perfect 3-on-3, and Hord and Krause each managed three wins.

Set 2: Lauenstein had four early kills as the Huskers went up 5-3. But Creighton used a 5-0 run to go up 11-7. Hayden Kubik finished the race with a kill, and Krause followed that up with his fourth kill before a par block Hayden Kubik and Hord cut it to 11-10. The Jays responded, however, and reclaimed a 15-12 lead after a Sis kill. NU trailed 16-13 when Allick put Lauenstein up for a kill, and Creighton made two attacking errors to tie the set at 16-16. But Creighton held off the Huskers and stayed ahead by two points at 21-19. A service error drew Nebraska within one, 21-20, and Madi Kubik found the ground to level the score at 21-21. After a Creighton timeout, the Huskers made their fifth serve error, but Lauenstein tipped his 15th kill to tie it at 22-22. Madi Kubik then connected a set from Hames for a 23-22 lead, the Huskers’ first since they were 7-6. A typing error from Husker tied the score at 23-23, but Creighton served long for the Big Red set point, and Krause put the finishing touches on the return with his seventh kill and a 25-23 victory.

Set 3: Hayden Kubik had back-to-back wins to put the Huskers up 8-7, but Creighton scored three straight to take a 10-8 lead. Hames set up Lauenstein and Kubik for back-to-back takedowns to tie it at 10-10, but the Huskers made four straight unforced errors and trailed 14-10. Madi Kubik hit a pair of victims, and Allick and Krause teamed up for a block to cut it to 15-13. Creighton took an 18-14 lead when Krause had back-to-back kills and Hayden Kubik shoved to keep a live ball that led to a Creighton hitting error that cut the Jays’ lead to 18-17. Hayden Kubik snatched his fourth kill on a bump set from Rodriguez, and Creighton hit wide to tie the set at 19-19. An incredible defensive effort by the Huskers culminated in a solo block by Hord that gave the Huskers a 20-19 lead, NU’s first since they were 8-7. The teams traded sideouts for a 22-22 tie, but Wait knocked out a kill to make it 23-22 Creighton. Kubik finished on the left pin to tie it up again, but a Kiana Schmitt kill gave Creighton a set point. After a waiting period, Madi Kubik killed again, and Allick hammered an overpass for match point for the Huskers, 25-24. Creighton responded with two kills to regain the set point at 26-25, and a typing error from Husker ended the set in favor of Creighton, 27-25. It ended the Huskers’ 17-game winning streak to start the season.

Set 4: The Jays came out swinging and took a 10-5 lead before a kill from Krause and a solo block from Allick cut it to 10-7. But Creighton recorded a 6-2 run to come back 16-9. Lauenstein collected his 22nd kill and recovered a block with Hord, but the Jays stayed ahead 19-12 after two Husker errors. The Huskers could only come close to six as Creighton won the fourth, 25-17.

Set 5: Creighton claimed a 5-3 lead, but the Huskers fought back to tie it at 5-5 after a Krause kill. The second continued to hammer as two more kills and a block with Allick earned the Big Red an 8-6 lead. The Kubik sisters connected as Madi set Hayden for a kill that made it 9-6, but Creighton scored the next two to cut NU’s lead to 9-8. After a Husker timeout, Krause hit a block for a new career-high in kills and a 10-8 lead, but a serve error headed again. After a clear violation on Creighton, Madi Kubik put in a kill from the back row to give the Huskers a 12-9 lead. Lauenstein then blasted back-to-back eliminations for match point at 14-9. At match point, Hayden Kubik shaped the block to cap Nebraska’s 5-0 run.

Next: The Huskers return home Saturday as they host Long Beach State, coached by former Husker assistant Tyler Hildebrand, at 3 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

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