EVANSTON, Ill. — The No. 4 Nebraska volleyball team survived an upset bid from Northwestern with a 3-2 (27-29, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 15-6) win at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskers (21-2, 13-1 Big Ten) dropped sets one and three and were down 23-21 in the fourth set. But the Huskers found a way to outscore Northwestern 19-6 from that point on to finish out the comeback win on the road.
Whitney Lauenstein had 16 kills and seven blocks and hit .353 to lead the Huskers. Madi Kubik had 15 kills and eight digs, and Lindsay Krause tallied 14 kills and hit .379.
Nebraska hit .289 and held Northwestern to .189 for the match, including a -.235 percentage in the decisive fifth set, while the Huskers hit .455 with the match on the line.
Ally Batenhorst had nine kills and three blocks, and Kaitlyn Hord added seven kills and nine blocks while hitting .417. Bekka Allick contributed four kills and five blocks as well as a career-high three service aces. Nicklin Hames had 31 assists with a season-high 19 digs and one ace, and Anni Evans had 18 assists.
Nebraska doubled up Northwestern in blocks (14-7) and had a 57-51 edge in digs. The Huskers had four service aces and 14 errors, while the Wildcats had six aces and 11 errors.
Temi Thomas-Ailara had 26 kills for Northwestern (17-9, 6-8 Big Ten).
Set 1: Northwestern used a 6-0 run to take a 10-6 lead. After a sideout kill by Krause, the Wildcats got two aces and two kills by Thomas-Ailara to increase their lead to 14-8. Krause had a kill and Batenhorst added two as the Huskers pulled within 14-12 after a 4-0 spurt. But Northwestern wouldn’t allow the Huskers to get any closer than two points before rebuilding the lead, as a kill and two blocks by Thomas-Ailara made it 22-17 Wildcats. A Northwestern service error was followed by an Allick ace to cut it to 22-19, and Batenhorst and Hord posted a block before another ace by Allick made it 22-21. Northwestern then made an attacking error to tie the score at 22-22, but Desiree Becker responded with a kill to put the Cats back on top, 23-22. Batenhorst answered with her third kill to tie it again, 23-23. But another Becker kill gave Northwestern set point at 24-23. Back-to-back attacking errors by Northwestern gave the Huskers a 25-24 set point. But the teams traded sideouts until three straight kills by Thomas-Ailara gave Northwestern the set, 29-27. Thomas-Ailara had 11 kills on 12 swings in the set (.833).
Set 2: Nebraska took an 8-5 lead after a 4-0 run featuring two kills by Allick and one by Batenhorst. Allick had a solo block and an ace, and Batenhorst and Lauenstein tallied kills before a block by Lauenstein and Hord made it 13-7 Big Red. The Huskers didn’t let up, as Lauenstein, Kubik and Hord recorded kills for an eight-point lead at 16-8. Northwestern cut the lead to four at 20-16, but Batenhorst and Lauenstein came up with kills for the Big Red, and Hord and Lauenstein teamed up for a block as the Huskers won 25-20. NU hit .368 in set two and slowed Northwestern down to .152.
Set 3: The Wildcats took control early this time, going up 6-2. The Huskers battled back to take a 15-14 lead after kills by Hord, Kubik and Lauenstein and a block by Lauenstein and Allick. But Northwestern answered with a 5-1 run to go back up 19-16. Lauenstein posted two late kills to cut it to 24-23, but Thomas-Ailara ended the set in Northwestern’s favor, 25-23, with her 21st kill of the match.
Set 4: Northwestern led 10-7 when a service error was followed by a Krause/Hord block and a Krause kill to tie it 10-10. After Becker gave the lead back to Northwestern with a kill, Krause and Batenhorst answered with kills and a block by Hord and Lauenstein made it 13-11 Huskers. Nebraska led 17-14 but allowed Northwestern to go on a 7-2 run, as the Wildcats claimed a 21-19 lead. Northwestern continued to lead 23-21, but a service error started a 4-0 Husker run to end the set and force a game five. Allick and Lauenstein had a block, and Lauenstein finished off the 25-23 win with a kill.
Set 5: After surrendering the first point, the Huskers scored the next four with Hord and Kubik terminating kills, and back-to-back blocks by Hord and Lauenstein made it 4-1 Huskers. Northwestern committed a service error and hit into the net, and Kubik smashed a kill for a 7-2 advantage. Back-to-back kills by Krause put the Huskers up 9-3, but the match was delayed for more than 10 minutes after Northwestern setter Sienna Noordermeer went out with an injury after chasing a ball into the crowd. After play resumed, the Wildcats cut it to 9-5, but Krause tipped a kill and Allick won a joust at the net for an 11-5 Husker lead. Batenhorst tallied another kill to make it 12-6. Hord and Krause notched a block, and a tough serve from Maisie Boesiger led to a triple block by Krause, Hord and Batenhorst for match point. Nebraska finished the 15-6 win on another block by Hord and Batenhorst.
Up next: The Huskers host Iowa on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. It is set to be Nebraska’s 300th consecutive regular-season sellout.