The No. 6 Nebraska volleyball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after a 25-19, 25-12, 25-16 sweep of Hofstra in front of a crowd of 8,358 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday night. With their ninth straight win, the Huskers (25-6) advanced to Saturday's NCAA Second Round matchup with Missouri at 7 p.m.
Sophomore Laura Stivrins paced an efficient Husker offensive attack with a match-high 12 kills, the first double-figure kill match of her NCAA Tournament career. Stivrins recorded her 12 kills on only 18 swings, hitting .500. Senior Mikaela Foecke finished with nine kills on 22 error-free swings after being held without a kill in the opening set. Sophomore Lexi Sun had nine kills in her Nebraska postseason debut, while classmate Jazz Sweet put down four kills on nine error-free swings to hit .444. Freshman Nicklin Hames set Nebraska to a .352 attack percentage in her postseason debut. Defensively, the Huskers recorded eight blocks. Foecke tied her career high with six stuffs, while Callie Schwarzenbach had four blocks to set the Nebraska freshman record for blocks in a season (163). Senior libero Kenzie Maloney paced Nebraska's floor defense with 12 digs.
Nebraska had 10 more kills, 5.5 more blocks and six more digs than Hofstra, which ended its season with a 25-8 record. The Pride had 15 kills and hit .333 in the opening set but had just 16 kills the rest of the way while hitting a combined .045 in the second and third sets. Laura Masciullo led Hofstra with 10 kills, her 10th straight match with double-figure kills. Aisha Skinner added five kills and Nanishka Perez and Michela Rucli had five kills apiece. Maddie Appleton had a match-high 13 digs from the back row.
Set 1: Nebraska got off to a bit of a slow start, as Hofstra took a 5-3 lead via five kills. The Huskers then went on a 5-1 run to take an 8-6 lead, with Stivrins terminating twice and Foecke serving an ace. Hofstra hung tough, tying the set three more times, the latest at 11-11. But Sweet and Stivrins put down kills, and a block by Foecke and Stivrins gave NU a 15-12 lead at the media timeout. An ace serve by Stivrins and a Hofstra hitting error put the Huskers up by five, 19-14, and Sun pounded back-to-back kills to help the Huskers pull ahead 21-15. Hofstra scored the next three points to slice the lead in half, but Sun earned sideout with her fifth kill, and Foecke and Schwarzenbach thwarted an attack before a Hofstra net violation gave NU set point at 24-18. A Hofstra service error, its sixth of the set, ended the set in NU's favor, 25-19. Nebraska hit .400 in set one, while Hofstra hit .333.
Set 2: The Huskers bolted to a 5-1 lead with Schwarzenbach tallying a kill and combining on back-to-back blocks with Foecke and Sweet. Schwarzenbach scored again with a kill to make it 6-2, and a kill by Foecke started a 7-0 Husker run that made it 14-3. Miller served the run, which included an ace, and Stivrins and Hames tacked on kills as the Huskers took control of set two. Sami Slaughter came off the bench and put down a kill to make it 23-10, and Stivrins scored NU's final two points of the set with kills for a 25-12 Husker win. The Huskers hit .370 and were much better defensively, holding the Pride to .000 hitting.
Set 3: Stivrins and Foecke hammered down back-to-back overpasses and then teamed up for a block to give the Huskers a 7-3 advantage early in the set. The duo continued their dominance in the set, each posting another kill before a solo block by Foecke made it 10-4. Miller served her second ace of the night for an 11-4 lead. NU led 16-7 when Hofstra scored six of the next nine points, but Foecke and Stivrins posted another block, and Foecke smashed three more kills to put Nebraska ahead 23-14. The Huskers finished off the sweep with a 25-16 win after Foecke tacked on her ninth kill.
Up Next: The Huskers will play No. 24 Missouri on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the second round. Missouri swept No. 23 Arizona in the first match, 25-17, 25-22, 25-18. The match will be televised on NET, streamed on Huskers.com and will air on Husker Sports Network radio affiliates, Huskers.com and the Huskers app.
• Nebraska won its ninth straight match to improve to 25-6 on the season, reaching 25 wins for the 18th time in John Cook’s 19 seasons as Husker head coach.
• The Huskers won an NCAA Tournament match for the 35th straight season. The Huskers have lost only once in the first round (1983) and are 32-1 all-time in first-round matches (also received four first-round byes from 1994 to 1997).
• Nebraska won its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament match to improve to 109-31 all-time in the postseason. The Huskers and Stanford are the only two volleyball programs with 100 wins in the NCAA Tournament.
• Nebraska won its 11th straight NCAA Tournament match at home, dating back to 2013. The Huskers improved to 74-7 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament, including a 19-2 record at the Devaney Center.
• The Huskers have won 51 of their last 54 home NCAA Tournament matches.
• John Cook improved to 68-14 in the NCAA Tournament at Nebraska, including 19-0 in first-round matches. Including his seven seasons at Wisconsin, Cook is 76-18 in the postseason, including 23-1 in the first round.
• The Huskers won their 18th consecutive match in the month of November. Nebraska finished with a 9-0 record this November and improved to 32-1 in the month since the start of the 2015 season. The last two seasons Nebraska went undefeated in November, the Huskers went on to win the national title (2015 and 2017).
• Nebraska’s two seniors who have been with the program all four years - Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney – improved to 17-1 in their NCAA Tournament careers.
• Nebraska held Hofstra to a .135 attack percentage, tying the Pride's season-low mark. The match marked the 25th opponent the Huskers have held below .200 hitting this season.
• The Huskers hit .352, their fourth consecutive match hitting above .350. Nebraska's .352 attack percentage was the highest mark Hofstra allowed in 2018, as the Huskers became just the second Pride opponent to hit .300 in 33 matches this season.
• Callie Schwarzenbach had four blocks in her NCAA Tournament debut to break the Nebraska freshman record for blocks of 160, set by Tracy Stalls in 2004. Schwarzenbach has 163 blocks this season.
• Mikaela Foecke tied her career high with six blocks against Hofstra. The six blocks were also the most Foecke has had in an NCAA Tournament match, eclipsing the five blocks from the first postseason match of her career in 2015 vs. Harvard.
• Mikaela Foecke had two aces against Hofstra. She has 20 aces in her NCAA Tournament career, the second-highest total in Nebraska history.
• Lauren Stivrins had a match-high 12 kills, her career high for an NCAA Tournament match after she totaled eight kills against both Stony Brook and Florida in last year's run to the NCAA title.
• Megan Miller had two aces in her NCAA Tournament debut.