HuskerOnline - Three takes from Nebraska volleyball's win over Indiana, 8th sweep overall
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Three takes from Nebraska volleyball's win over Indiana, 8th sweep overall

After a long trip to East Coast to play Penn State and Rutgers, Nebraska volleyball Head Coach John Cook was worried about his team's ability to play after a mentally taxing trip with no recovery time.

Despite this, "the Huskers took care of business," Cook said.

No. 9 Nebraska volleyball (13-3, 7-0) looked fresh against Indiana (8-11, 2-5) as they swept them 25-13, 25-15, 25-15. The Husker's earned their eighth sweep of the season and fifth in the Big Ten.

Here are my three takes on Nebraska's seventh Big Ten win:

Nebraska volleyball outside hitters Lindsay Krause (left) and Madi Kubik (right)
Nebraska volleyball outside hitters Lindsay Krause (left) and Madi Kubik (right) (Abby Barmore)

Nicklin Hames expanding her game

Husker setter Nicklin Hames earned three kills against the Hoosiers in big fashion.

She had two setter dumps, one in each back corner of the court. On her third kill, libero Lexi Rodriguez laid out to save a ball that popped up to middle blocker Lauren Stivrins a few feet in front of her. Stivrins bump set it behind her to Hames who smashed the ball for a kill.

Outside hitter Lindsay Krause said Hames has been working hard in practice on her dumps and that it was good to see Hames translate that to the court.

Hames also had 26 assists, one ace, two blocks and 13 digs.

Cook said the reason she didn't have as many assists was connected to her having 13 digs. Sometimes, it's hard for her to get back into position and/or chase down a pass when she digs the ball.

Rodriguez helped the Huskers and Hames out with nine assists.

Hames and Rodrigues, who had 35 of Nebraska's 40 assists, assisted the Huskers to a .367 hitting percentage.

"Anytime in the Big Ten you can hit what we hit tonight, .367, almost 50% kill, we'll take it," Cook said. "That's a big number against any Big Ten team."

What freshmen?

During Nebraska's preseason, it was easy to pick out the freshmen on the court. The three outside hitters were typically high error, getting blocked often and hitting out-of-bounds.

Now, after seven Big Ten matches, the freshmen blend in with the team. The trio only had four errors against Indiana.

"They aren't playing like freshmen," Cook said.

Krause had 10 kills, with two errors and hit .400. She had two block assists and one block error. To start the match, Krause had four kills in Nebraska's first seven points.

Left-side hitter Ally Batenhorst had an errorless night with five kills on seven swings. She played two and a half sets with Lexi Sun replacing her in the middle of the third.

Right-side hitter Whitney Lauenstein was able to get some experience off the bench against Indiana. Although she typically plays a few points in each match, she played more on Wednesday.

She had one error at the end of the second set on a bad set. Lauenstein entered the third set when the Huskers had an 18-10 lead. She added two kills on three swings and shared a block with Stivrins.

The other freshman on the court holds down the back row. Rodriguez, who had 19 and 17 digs in her last two matches, had nine against Indiana. As mentioned earlier, she had nine assists, nearing a double-double.

If Nebraska isn't having a good passing game and can't get the ball to Hames, Cook said that was true against Indiana, they have Rodriguez and other defensive specialists capable of stepping in.

In fact, Nebraska has been relying more and more on its freshmen and they have been up to the challenge of Big Ten volleyball on a Top 10 team.

Digging in

Cook said he told his team they had to dig deep after a long road trip and a Wednesday night match to follow.

"We're gonna have to really dig down, we have to bring energy, we're going to have to really focus and have a great effort tonight," Cook said. "Don't think you're going to walk out there and it's going to happen. I think they really embrace that."

Digging deep is a good lesson for this team to grasp early as its Big Ten schedule increases in difficulty.

The Huskers are the last undefeated Big Ten team in conference-only play. Cook said he isn't worried about making it out of the conference unscathed.

"We just think about winning the next point," he said. "We got a lot of tough matches ahead of us and the hills getting steeper, so we got to dig in and climb harder."