Three takes: No. 9 Nebraska volleyball gets swept by No. 7 Ohio State
The Buckeyes got the best of Nebraska as they defeated them 23-17 in football and the volleyball team swept the Huskers in volleyball to cap off the night.
No. 9 Nebraska volleyball falls to No. 7 Ohio State in three sets 27-25, 25-21, 25-23. The Huskers have now lost three of their last four matches and are 11-3 in the Big Ten and 17-6 overall.
Here are my three takes from Nebraska losing another close Big Ten match:
Madi Kubik, one of the few highlights
Left outside hitter Madi Kubik went off against Ohio State with 18 kills and two errors on 40 swings. She hit a team-high .400.
Nebraska hit .203 overall but remove Kubik's numbers and NU hit .108.
In the first set, Kubik scored four consecutive points to give Nebraska a 9-7 lead early on. She had six first-set kills and four digs.
Kubik was Nebraska's only player that had any sort of rhythm.
"She was playing really well and competing really hard and doing a great job," Cook said. "The problem was nobody else was giving her any support and so that part is pretty disappointing."
Behind Kubik at the left pin, Lexi Sun had seven kills, hit. 174, adding three digs and four blocks. On the right side, Lindsay Krause struggled in her third consecutive match and hit .048 with four kills and three errors.
In the middle, Lauren Stivrins hit zero with three kills but had a team-high seven blocks. Cook said she and setter Nicklin Hames weren't connecting well against Ohio State.
Callie Schwarzenbach came in for Kayla Caffey because Caffey had four kills and hit .167 in the first two sets, Cook said. In set three, which Schwarzenbach started, she had one kill but Cook said she played well.
While volleyball is a sport where it is basically impossible to carry a whole team, Kubik sure did try.
Getting back to what Nebraska does best, Part 1: Serving
The Huskers served...not well.
They had 11 service errors in three sets. That's three to four per set.
Nebraska lost two sets by two points and one by four points. Those serves matter a lot.
Cook said on the Husker Sports Network after the match that Nebraska has time to train this week with matches on Friday and Sunday and that they need that time.
With a match in Illinois on Thursday then another in Ohio on Saturday, the Huskers stayed on the road. It was a weird week, especially when considering the NCAA-mandated day off for elections on Tuesday.
"We need some training time because I think we've lost some of the things that were making us play at a really high level and we got to get better," Cook said.
Serving tough with little errors is one of the things Nebraska did best and helped them take down then-No. 7 Purdue, then-No. 13 Penn State and sweep Illinois twice.
In the Huskers' loss to Minnesota, they had 12 service errors in five sets. Eleven in three sets in Columbus is worse.
Nebraska needs to find its serving rhythm again or the last six matches will be difficult.
Getting back to what Nebraska does best, Part 2: Defense
Cook said Nebraska's back row defense struggled to pass against Ohio State.
The stats reflect that. Libero Lexi Rodriguez had 10 digs after having 28 against Minnesota. Defensive specialist Keonilei Akana also had 10 digs. Hames had seven digs, breaking her seven-game double-double streak.
The Huskers had 50 digs total.
Nebraska's defense was its staple earlier in the Big Ten season and helped the Huskers create rhythm.
Against Creighton in non-conference games, NU's defense absolutely suffocated the Bluejays and they hit .053. Nebraska had 69 digs, averaging 23 per set.
After that match at the beginning of September, Cook said "defense wins championships."
Nebraska still controls its own destiny with a chance to beat three ranked opponents. In order to do that, the Huskers need to get back to what they do best to get a good seed in the NCAA tournament.