LINCOLN — This time of year, when a win over Nebraska makes for a coveted line on an opponent’s NCAA tournament résumé, the Huskers often find themselves with a target on their backs.
But Friday, in a rematch against a team that handed NU its last road loss, it was the Huskers who played the role of the hunter.
No. 9 Nebraska never stopped swinging in a 25-23, 25-13, 25-22 sweep of No. 16 Michigan State. The win was the Huskers’ seventh straight and avenged a four-set loss in East Lansing on Oct. 12.
Kelsey Robinson had a team-high 14 kills as Nebraska (20-4, 13-2 Big Ten) put three players in double figures. Kadie Rolfzen had 11 kills and Amber Rolfzen added 10 as four Huskers hit at least .412.
“I don’t know if it was you or your sister, but I turned to her and I was like, ‘It’s like batting practice,’ ” Robinson said, sitting next to Amber Rolfzen after the match. “We were just taking rip after rip after rip, and everybody was just really confident.”
Robinson, who added 11 digs for her 15th double-double of the season, specifically was addressing the second set, when NU hit .500 with two attack errors. But the senior outside hitter could’ve been speaking about almost any point of the match.
Nebraska recorded a season-high .402 attack percentage while committing eight errors against a Michigan State club that had been holding opponents to .171 hitting.
“We want to start being a low-error team this time of year,” NU coach John Cook said, “and to hit .400 against that team that thumped us really good up there in East Lansing was a great job by our team.”
The Huskers made adjustments from the teams’ first meeting, when the Spartans (19-7, 8-6) won the final match of their 15-match winning streak.
Michigan State outside hitter Lauren Wicinski — an All-American who is third in the Big Ten in kills — had a match-high 17 kills Friday. However, Nebraska shut down every other Spartan who had starred in their previous match.
Allyssah Fitterer and Chloe Reinig, two freshmen who had combined for 24 kills against NU in East Lansing, were held to four kills apiece Friday. Middle blocker Alexis Mathews finished with two kills and two errors to hit .000 after entering the match with a .416 attack percentage, second in the Big Ten.
“We knew that they were a fast-tempo team, so blocking, I think we made quicker moves than we did up at their place,” Amber Rolfzen said. “We were just ready for all kinds of attacks they were going to set.”
Nebraska setter Mary Pollmiller had 33 set assists and 11 digs, but the Huskers put up their most efficient attack of the season while playing out-of-system much of the night, winning long rallies that had both teams scrambling.
Robinson terminated on a pair of such plays that drew loud ovations from the crowd of 8,041. She put NU on top 22-19 in the first set after Pollmiller chased down a dig and sent a bump set back over her head to Robinson from 30 feet off the net.
Then, early in the second set, it was Amber Rolfzen who rescued a dig and floated a ball to Robinson, who found the floor to end the rally.
“She put it up perfectly, and I took a big rip. It was awesome,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t believe she made that set. Afterward, I didn’t even care about the kill. I was like, ‘Whoa, nice set!’ ”
Nebraska finishes the weekend Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. match against No. 19 Michigan (17-9, 7-8). The Wolverines swept Iowa on Friday night.
Michigan State (19-7, 8-6) .......................................... 23 13 22
At Nebraska (19-4, 12-2) .......................................... 25 25 25
MSU (kills-aces-blocks): Wicinski 17-2-0, Galloway 9-0-3, Christenson 5-0-3, Fitterer 4-0-0, Reinig 4-0-2, Mathews 2-0-2, Peterson 0-1-0. Totals 41-3-5.
NU: Robinson 14-2-2, K. Rolfzen 11-0-2, A. Rolfzen 10-0-1, Haggerty 5-0-3, Hall 2-0-3, Pollmiller 1-0-0, Ethridge 0-1-0. Totals 43-3-7.
Set assists: MSU 40 (Peterson 20, Kelsay 17), NU 41 (Pollmiller 33). Att.: 8,041