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Three takes from Nebraska volleyball edging out Iowa in three close sets

No. 9 Nebraska volleyball (15-2, 9-0) outlasted Iowa (2-17, 0-9) in three close sets (25-21, 25-22, 26-24) to earn their ninth Big Ten victory.

Husker Head Coach John Cook said this match in Iowa City was similar stats-wise as when Iowa traveled to Lincoln earlier this season. He said he doesn't know what Iowa hasn't won more games based on their performances against NU.

Iowa was unrelenting against Nebraska on Wednesday night and made the Huskers work for every point.

Here are my three takes from Nebraska extending its record against the Hawkeyes to 35-0:

Ally Batenhorst or Lexi Sun needs to step up

Left-side hitter Madi Kubik has been consistently dominating during the Big Ten season. She was named the Big Ten Player of the Week back-to-back and had 13 kills against Iowa.

But behind her is freshman hitter Ally Batenhorst who is inconsistent and occasionally high-error.

Against Iowa, she had a team-high five errors, the only two errors in set one and three out of five in set two. Batenhorst had five kills to hit zero.

Cook started Lexi Sun in the third set to see if she could hit better and bring a spark. Sun didn't record a kill on six swings and all of her balls were popped back up by the Hawkeyes. The sixth-year senior had a solo block, a block assist and a blocking error.

"Neither one of them did much tonight so they got to be better in that spot," Cook said. "They had a lot of tough sets tonight but they've got to find ways to manage a little bit better."

With Purdue and three other ranked opponents in the Huskers' next five games, Nebraska will need better production out of its second left-side hitter.

Caffey's back and better than ever

Nebraska middle blocker Kayla Caffey missed three games with a non-COVID-19 related illness. She started against Iowa and made sure her presence was felt.

Caffey had seven kills with one error on 12 swings. She hit .500, the second-highest on the team behind Lauren Stivrins's .667.

The 6-foot-0 middle blocker, who would be considered undersized if it wasn't for her vertical, had one solo block and four block assists.

Caffey seems to hang in the air while deciding where and how to kill a ball. She has a variety of shots that were displayed against Iowa. Caffey had kills of off slides, quick sets with full power swings and smart tips.

Stivrins' dominance in the middle is discussed often as it should be. However, Caffey deserves to be added to the powerful middle blockers conversation.

A humbling win

While Iowa has many talented players and could beat any Big Ten team having an off game, they are by far the worst team in the conference. The Hawkeyes have yet to win a set in the Big Ten this season and are on an 11-game losing streak.

I point this out, not to be mean, but to show how humbling this game was for Nebraska. They were a few momentum-changing points away from dropping a set.

It's not that Nebraska played badly, they didn't. It's that the Big Ten is very good and they will have to play amazing against all of the teams remaining on their schedule to give themselves a shot at winning the Big Ten.

The first team in this difficult back-half of the season is No. 7 Purdue at the Devaney Sports Center on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on BTN.