The Huskers swept Hofstra Friday, winning their 35th consecutive first round match of the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska was able to remain largely in cruise control most of the night, with the exception of the first set, which saw the Pride trade points with the Huskers on a back and forth basis for an extended period.
Trailing by just two points midway through the first set 16-14, Nanishka Perez’s service error gifted the Huskers a point to put them up by three. Nebraska’s Lauren Stivrins extended the lead with a service ace, forcing Hofstra to call a timeout. Laura Masciullo tried to rally the Pride back into the match, but Masciullo was no match for Lexi Sun’s hitting prowess, who would tack on three more kills towards the end of game one, giving her a total of five kills in the first set.
The first set signaled to Nebraska and head coach John Cook that Nebraska needed to make adjustments. Hofstra are a unique team, in that they feature a roster with 11 international players. “They’re European volleyball players. They understand the game. They know what to do,” Cook said. “They’re not as physical so they have to be more creative. If you’re not disciplined, they make you pay.”
Sets two and three were far less dramatic for Nebraska, as they went on to win those sets 25-12 and 25-16, respectively. The home crowd at the Bob Devaney Sports Center certainly didn’t harm the Husker’s in their effort to put away Hofstra. The fans filled the Devaney to the brim, with an estimated 8,358 in attendance. Hofstra, a private university from Long Island, certainly aren’t used to seeing such crowd sizes.
“It was amazing playing in front of 8,000 people,” Masciullo said. “I just wish that we would have done better.”
Next, the Huskers will take on Missouri Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers swept Arizona in Lincoln, the game directly before Nebraska’s. Coach Cook says that Mizzou is a team that resembles more of the style of play that Nebraska is used to. “They’re very much like the Big 10 teams. They’ve got a very physical right side and a very physical left side,” Cook said.
Stivrens led the match in kills with 12. Mikeale Foecke and Sun both had 9 kills on the night. As a team, Nebraska hit .352 and combined for 45 digs.