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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Volleyball: Northwestern falls to No. 2 Nebraska in straight sets

Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal
Freshman outside hitter Drew Wright. Wright posted three digs in Northwestern’s straight sets loss to No. 2 Nebraska on Wednesday.

Northwestern put up a good fight against No. 2 Nebraska Wednesday night, though the team felt the absence of graduate student outside hitter Julia Sangiacomo, who was sidelined for the game.

The Cornhuskers (18-0, 9-0 Big Ten) kept a lead throughout all three sets, winning the first two by large margins. But, with the help of sophomore outside hitter Averie Hernandez, who posted 11 of their 26 kills, the Wildcats (9-10, 3-6 Big Ten) came closer to tying it up in the third set. 

“We just needed to (learn) how to play without Julia,” coach Shane Davis said. “She’s been our big point scorer in most matches. Those were big shoes to fill, but I thought we did a good job of keeping balance as a program.”

Nebraska kept the service pressure up throughout the game, racking up nine aces to NU’s four. 

Tough serves kept the ‘Cats playing out of system, which led to a desire to return the pressure and caused some unforced errors. 

“You want to try and get them out of system but they’re a hard team to get out of system,” Hernandez said. 

The Cornhuskers were on fire from the jump, racking up a five-point lead at the beginning of the first set. The two teams traded runs, though NU never recovered from the early setback – falling 25-15.

Sophomore middle blocker Kennedy Hill was the first to put the ‘Cats on the board in the opening two sets, earning the team’s highest hitting percentage of the night ― a 0.286 with three kills.

The second set was tighter, thanks to some improved in-system play from NU. Kills from Hernandez, Hill, senior middle blocker Leilani Dodson and sophomore outside hitter Rylen Reid kept the ‘Cats in the action, but the team’s three service errors were a drag. NU ultimately lost set two 25-16.

“Hernandez did a really good job out in the back row, playing six rotations,” Davis said. “She hasn’t had to do that yet … I’m really happy with her progress and what she was able to bring to the scene tonight.”

Things were looking up for the ‘Cats at the beginning of the third frame, with the two teams battling it out with long rallies, trading points. Hernandez dominated in both the front row and at the service line, helping to tie the score up at 15-15. Eventually, though, the Cornhuskers put the game away 25-21.

“We did a pretty good job offensively, taking care of the ball,” Davis said. “We just didn’t give ourselves enough opportunities in our service.”

Hernandez said she was happy with the team’s ability to keep in close range against a top team like Nebraska – which remains unbeaten on the season

Now, NU will shift its focus to Saturday’s game against Michigan (3-15, 1-8 Big Ten).

“As an athlete, you have to be able to change your mindset from having that defeated feeling,” Hernandez said. “Let’s go be the aggressor and take the next game.” 

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