EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State handed Nebraska its first Big Ten loss Saturday night, holding off the Huskers 25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-19.
The defeat ended NU’s five-match win streak, a night after a tough five-set victory at No. 17 Michigan.
The seventh-ranked Spartans move to 17-1 and 6-0 in the conference, their best start since 1995. It was their second straight win over the Huskers, who fell to 12-3 and 5-1. NU had held an 11-0 edge in the series before last season.
“Michigan State just played better,” NU coach John Cook said on his post-match radio show. “We couldn’t get them out of system enough.”
Cook said the Huskers could have disrupted the Spartan attack with tough serving. Instead, his young squad became tentative after some misses, totaling 10 service errors.
“We’ve got to learn how to use that as a weapon,” Cook said of his team’s serving.
Kelsey Robinson led the Huskers again, piling up 20 kills and 12 digs. Kadie Rolfzen also had a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs.
Cook said Rolfzen did some good things and played a consistent match.
Her sister Amber Rolfzen sat out because of a hamstring issue. When asked about her after the match, Cook said: “She’s fine.”
Meghan Haggerty notched six kills. Mary Pollmiller handed out 42 assists and Cecilia Hall posted five blocks.
Nebraska hit .254 for the match, while Michigan State hit .288. The Huskers outdug the Spartans 52-47 and outblocked MSU 11.5-8.
After Michigan State won the first set, there were some fireworks in the second.
A kill by Robinson put NU ahead 21-20 before the Spartans rallied. NU couldn’t convert on match point at 24-23.
Cook got his first red card for protesting a call during the set, costing Nebraska a point.
“That was totally uncalled for,” he said.
The Huskers took a 17-8 lead in the third set before MSU rallied to within 23-20. This time, Nebraska was able to hold on to force another set.
Nebraska went up 7-6 in the fourth on a kill by Pollmiller, but couldn’t keep the advantage.
The Huskers return home next weekend, hosting Indiana at 7 p.m. Friday and Purdue at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Devaney Center.
Nebraska (12-3, 5-1) ............................ 20 24 25 19
At Michigan State (17-1, 6-0) ............................ 25 26 20 25
NU (kills-aces-blocks): Ethridge 0-0-0, K. Rolfzen 13-0-3, Hall 4-0-5, Broekhuis 5-0-3, Pollmiller 3-1-3, Haggerty 6-0-4, Robinson 20-0-2, Hunter 0-0-0, Lyles 0-0-0, Wong-Orantes 0-1-0. Totals 51-2-11.5.
MSU: Fitterer 11-0-5, Galloway 5-0-1, Reinig 13-0-0, Kelsay 1-1-0, Wicinski 20-2-1, Mathews 7-0-5, Moster 0-1-0, Peterson 0-0-0, Hubbard 0-0-0, Kuipers 2-0-1, White 0-0-2. Totals 59-5-8.
Set assists: NU 48 (Pollmiller 42, Robinson 2, K. Rolfzen 1, Broekhuis 1, Haggerty 1, Wong-Orantes 1), MSU 57 (Kelsay 27, Peterson 18, Moster 6, Galloway 3, Wicinski 3).