HIGHLIGHTS/RECAP: Huskers win five set thriller in epic match with Badgers
LINCOLN, Neb - One of the most anticipated college volleyball matches of the year lived up to the hype.
Second-ranked Nebraska hosted number one Wisconsin on Saturday night and the Huskers came out on top of a five-set thriller at the Devaney Center. It was the first win for Nebraska over the Badgers since 2017. Huskers Head Coach John Cook said it was a great match where his group figured out a way to be a few points better, but it’s also just another night of Big Ten volleyball.
“It was a match for the ages tonight,” Cook said. “Two great teams, battalion for every point, and we just figured out a way to be two points better.”
Nebraska was without Lindsey Krause again on Saturday, but would go on to win the first set, even going on a 6-0 run in doing so. However, the Badgers would win the next two, forcing the Big Red into a win or go home fourth set, in which the Huskers would prevail 26-24. That would force a seemingly inevditbale fifth set.
As the Huskers mounted a comeback, the final play would be challenged by John Cook and the Huskers for a net violation… and thus, the Huskers win and the celebration is on.
John Cook talked about the decision to challenge and how he was convinced.
“The girls, they were telling me they got the net,” Cook said. “They give you that extra one in set five, so. They know… They know when they touch it, they know when they don’t. They’re very good at that.”
Merritt Beason recorded a match high 21 kills in the win. Her and Ally Batenhorst would combine for thirty-four together, again helping Nebraska in the absence of Lindsey Krause. Beason talked about what this win says about the teams resiliency.
“We’ve talked about it all year, this team is very gritty and very resilient,” Beason said. “There is never a doubt in any of our heads that we’re gonna lose. Even after that second set, there was never a doubt.. We knew we would find a way to pull it out. I think having 44 errors and finding a way to win.. That speaks to who our team is.”
The 2023 season has also been a year of breaking records for Husker Volleyball. The same was true on Saturday. A record crowd of 9,198 packed the Bob for the historic match. Freshman Harper Murray says, that’s just Husker nation.
“I think we all knew Husker nation is a great fan base,” Murray said. “They’re a big reason to why we won. The energy and the support they bring to each of our games, we can’t even explain what it means to us.”
Nebraska improves to 19-0 with the victory. However, that’s 19 games down and 10 more to go, including another dual with the Badgers in Madison. While it just goes down as one win in the record books, John Cook believes it’s the type of win, that breeds future success.
“Over your years of coaching, you look for big wins like this… When you’re down and come back, it’ll give us a big strain of confidence,” Cook said. “Again, you can’t manufacture that. It’s just something that has to happen throughout the season.”