Huskers deliver thumping to sweep Stony Brook in first round of NCAA tourney, advance to face Washington State

Huskers deliver thumping to sweep Stony Brook in first round of NCAA tourney, advance to face Washington State
World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — John Cook picked the verb, and Anni Albrecht dressed it up with a superlative. Nebraska’s volleyball coach and senior outside hitter were so adamant that Allie Havers couldn’t help but agree her first career kill was the feel-good moment of the night.

No. 5 Nebraska provided plenty of highlights Friday night in its NCAA tournament opener against Stony Brook, a 25-10, 25-14, 25-12 win at the Devaney Center, but the crowd of 8,213 was never louder than when Havers, a senior middle blocker who joined the volleyball team after four years playing basketball, got her first career kill.

“She super-thumped it. It was awesome,” Albrecht said of the first swing from Havers, who appeared in just her second match of the year.

Did Havers, who would add a second kill three rallies later, agree with Albrecht’s characterization of her swing?

“I didn’t at the time because my adrenaline was just kind of going, but I guess I super-thumped it,” Havers said.

“Super-whacked it,” she added.

Cook said he had been thinking for several weeks about getting Havers in the match if the margin allowed. Her first appearance of the year came for one rally at the end of NU’s win at Michigan when she made her debut in her home state.

Havers’ entrance Friday gave the Devaney Center crowd something to crow about at the end of another decisive opening-round win, which moved Nebraska (27-4) into a second-round match against Washington State (18-15) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Cougars beat Florida State 3-1 in Friday’s first opening-round match.

Albrecht took care of most of the thumping for the Huskers, putting down 14 kills without an error on 28 swings. It was just the second time all season Albrecht had an error-free match and marked her most kills since notching 15 in an Oct. 21 win over Illinois.

The Huskers hit .402 against Stony Brook (18-13), committing just seven hitting errors. Mikaela Foecke had nine kills on 15 error-free attacks, and redshirt freshman Lauren Stivrins added eight kills.

“I thought our team did a nice job of taking care of business,” Cook said. “We played really clean volleyball tonight. One of the top three highlights of the year was seeing Allie get that kill. She thumped that thing, and the excitement and the energy from the whole building was incredible, especially from her teammates.”

Stivrins had six of Nebraska’s nine blocks as NU held the Seawolves to .111 hitting.

McKyla Brooks and Maria Poole each had five kills to lead Stony Brook, which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance.

“We said from the start that we were thankful for the opportunity to come to Nebraska,” Stony Brook coach Kristin Belzung said. “I think if you are looking in the world of volleyball to get the right experience in front of this kind of crowd, there is no place better.”

The Seawolves never led in their postseason debut, as Nebraska took control with a dominant night from the service line. The Huskers served nine aces, one short of their season high, led by four from junior libero Kenzie Maloney.

“We had them out of system essentially the whole night,” Maloney said. “Then, we’ve been working on out-of-system blocking and defense the whole week. So it put us in a good position to get good (transition) plays.”

Senior Sydney Townsend and freshman Hayley Densberger each added a pair of aces. One from Densberger came during a run of nine straight points served in Game 3 by the defensive specialist from Malcolm.

The win stretched Nebraska’s winning streak to 14 matches and was win No. 29 in a row at home. To move the streak to 30 and qualify for next weekend’s sweet 16, Cook said, Nebraska must pass a physical test from Washington State on Saturday.

The Cougars put up 16 blocks against the Seminoles in the first round, and in Taylor Mims, who took 79 attempts Friday, Washington State has a go-to threat used to taking pressure swings against top-flight opponents.

“They’re used to playing great teams, so they’re not going to be worried about playing Nebraska,” Cook said. “So we’ve got to expect a really tough match.”

Stony Brook (18-13)………10 14 12

At Nebraska (27-4)………..25 25 25

SB (Kills-Aces-Blocks): Brooks 5-0-1, Poole 5-0-0, Pulver 4-0-0, Bowman 3-0-0, Sakowicz 2-0-0, Gels 2-0-2, Costello 1-0-0

NU: Albrecht 14-1-3, Foecke 9-0-2, Stivrins 8-0-6, Sweet 7-0-1, Hunter 3-0-3, Holman 3-0-3, Havers 2-0-0, Maloney 0-4-0, Densberger 0-2-0, Townsend 0-2-0

Set Assists: SB 21 (Sakowicz 15, Kerstetter 4, Amory 2), N 43 (Hunter 34, Townsend 2, Albrecht 2, Maloney 2, Densberger 2, Foecke 1). Att.: 8,213.

NCAA Tournament – 2nd Round: Nebraska vs. Washington State

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bob Devaney Sports Center, Lincoln

Radio: 1600 AM, 105.5 FM

Creighton clinches first-round victory over Coastal Carolina in four sets

The ninth-seeded Creighton Bluejays knocked off Coastal Carolina 3-1 (25-20, 27-25, 20-25, 25-22) in front of a sellout D.J. Sokol Arena crowd of 2,517 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to advance to a second-round matchup with 12th-ranked Michigan State Saturday.