BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The blocks would be there, John Cook told the Nebraska volleyball team, as long as the Huskers were in position and got their hands over the net.
As ball after ball from Indiana attackers were met and sent backward, the Husker coach was proved right one stuff at a time.
No. 6 Nebraska blocked 15 shots and made quick work of the Hoosiers 25-22, 25-21, 25-11 Saturday night to split the weekend's Big Ten road trip through the Hoosier state.
The Huskers (22-5, 15-3) had a few rocky moments, but they were able to rebound from a poor showing Friday in a 3-0 loss to Purdue. NU found the offense that was bogged down to the tune of a .136 attack percentage against the Boilermakers, hitting a season-best .418 versus Indiana.
“I'll take hitting .418 on the road in the Big Ten with six hitting errors, and we block 15,” Cook said in a postmatch radio interview. “I thought we just played better as the match went on.”
Senior Kelsey Robinson epitomized Nebraska's 24-hour turnaround with a match-high 15 kills against two errors to finish hitting .448. Robinson, who added six blocks against Indiana, hit .121 with only one block Friday at Purdue.
“Kelsey, I think, was on a mission tonight after last night,” Cook said. “I don't know how many blocks she had last night, but we didn't have many between her and Kadie (Rolfzen) last night. Those guys were challenged today about doing a better job blocking over there.”
Sophomore middle blocker Meghan Haggerty led Nebraska with seven blocks, and true freshman Melanie Keil made the most of her first collegiate start with five kills and six blocks.
Jordan Haverly and Awele Nwaeze each had nine kills to lead Indiana (9-20, 1-17), which was held to a .111 attack percentage in the Hoosiers' eighth straight loss.
However, the match wasn't as much of a steamroll as the statistics might suggest. The first set was tied 20-20 before a Robinson kill started NU's 4-0 run to take control of the opener.
In the second set, the Hoosiers led 18-14 when the IU wheels came off. Nebraska began serving the Hoosiers short, which threw off Indiana's offensive rhythm, Cook said following the match. Indiana attacks began sailing out of bounds or right into the Huskers' block. NU ended the second set on an 11-3 run to take a 2-0 lead to intermission.
“Their setters couldn't find their hitters, and then we blocked them a couple times,” Cook said. “They really tensed up a little bit.
Nebraska, which was picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten in the preseason coaches poll, now is assured of finishing no worse than second. The Huskers can clinch sole possession of second place with a win Wednesday at Iowa before hosting first-place and No. 2-ranked Penn State next Saturday at the Devaney Center.
“I talked to them today about we won eight straight matches. We played some really good volleyball,” Cook said. “Last night, for whatever reason, it just wasn't there. Tonight, for a little bit, it took us awhile to get into it. You're going to have those ups and downs. I told them, 'We have to get on an upswing this next week and keep it going into the tournament.'
“We've still got unfinished business in this conference, and we have a chance to finish really strong.”