The No. 8 Nebraska volleyball team opened Big Ten play with a sweep of Iowa on Wednesday night before 8,151 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, 25-18, 25-13, 31-29.
The Huskers improved to 7-3 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, while Iowa fell to 8-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
Kadie Rolfzen led the Huskers with 15 kills and seven digs. Her twin, Amber Rolfzen, had 10 kills on 16 attacks for a career-high .625 hitting percentage. Alicia Ostrander also had 10 kills, and Melanie Keil had a career-high-tying eight kills while hitting .538. Mary Pollmiller dished out 34 assists and Justine Wong-Orantes added seven digs.
Alexa Ethridge keyed the Huskers in the first set, serving a 5-0 run that included two of her match-high three service aces to break a 7-7 tie and give the Huskers a 12-7 lead. The Huskers eventually strung together a 9-1 run for a commanding 16-8 lead before claiming the 25-18 win after Iowa scored four straight with the Huskers at set point. Nebraska hit .417 in the opening frame, while Iowa hit .344.
Kadie Rolfzen had six kills quickly in set two as the Huskers built a 17-9 lead with Pollmiller serving a 6-0 run. Keil had three of her kills in the second set to lift Nebraska to the 25-13 victory. The Huskers hit even better in set two, finishing at .429. The story was much different for Iowa though, as the Hawkeyes hit -.040 after their hot start to the match.
The Huskers jumped out to a 15-11 lead in set three, but the Hawkeyes rallied with a 5-0 run to take a 16-15 lead. The run came courtesy of a Nebraska service error and three straight attacking errors. The Big Red committed another service error with the score tied at 18-18, but Ostrander tied it again with her ninth kill of the match. Two Iowa attacking errors put Nebraska up 21-19, but Iowa came back and took a 24-23 lead after Kadie Rolfzen’s swing went just beyond the back line. After a timeout, Kadie Rolfzen tied it at 24-24 with a tip shot, but Iowa earned set point again with a kill from Alex Lovell. After Lovell served into the net to even the score, Iowa committed a net violation to give the Huskers set point with a 26-25 lead. But the teams continued to battle back and forth until Kadie Rolfzen killed for a 30-29 lead, and NU finished off the sweep on a double-stuff block by Meghan Haggerty and Amber Rolfzen.
The Huskers hit .347 for the match, while Iowa hit .202. Nebraska outdug Iowa 26-24 and outblocked the Hawkeyes 8-5. Haggerty led the way with six.
The two teams meet again on Saturday in Iowa City for a 7 p.m. match.