COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Moments after sweeping Maryland in 79 minutes, Nebraska coach John Cook asked his players in the locker room what the key to their victory was.
Serving, they responded without hesitation.
The fifth-ranked Huskers were aggressive from the service line, finishing with four aces and kept the Terrapins off balance in a 25-19, 25-16, 25-13 win Saturday night in front of 2,225 at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.
“Serving is confidence and I think they feel pretty confident,” Cook said in his postgame radio interview. “We are going to have to stress (the defense) and they aren’t great passers. We thought we could get an advantage there.”
The Terps finished hitting .143, their second-lowest mark of the season. They hit below .100 in each of the final two sets.
The Huskers (15-2, 7-1 Big Ten) also kept Maryland from stringing points together. The Terps’ longest run was three consecutive points, which they did five times, as NU sided out 76 percent of the time.
“We broke them down, imposed our will on them and we were pretty low-error and did some nice things,” Cook said.
On offense, Nebraska’s outside hitters headlined the attack. Junior Lexi Sun finished with 12 kills and a .417 hitting percentage, while freshman Madi Kubik added 10 on a .333 clip. As a team, the Huskers hit .337, their third-best performance this season.
Cook credited sophomore setter Nicklin Hames, who finished with 27 assists, for running an efficient offense.
“Nicklin puts those guys in great spots,” Cook said. “She is setting the left sides really well. They can go up and hit anything they want.”
Nebraska also terminated effectively out of system with 11 assists not coming from the setter position.
Sophomore Callie Schwarzenbach started quickly with five kills in the first set, including three during a decisive 9-2 run that gave NU set point.
In the second set, the Huskers scored eight of the final 11 points. They carried that momentum to the third set and jumped to a 7-1 lead. Maryland never got within five points the rest of the way.
Maryland (11-9, 3-5) struggled to play clean. It finished with 15 hitting errors, including seven on Husker blocks. The Terrapins gave NU 13 free points on nine service errors and four ball-handling errors.
Cook said the Huskers are starting to believe in one of their team mantras: “With each other, for each other.”
“They are really figuring out ways to help each other,” Cook said. “That’s a team that’s playing loose, fun, hard, fast and they are trusting it.”
Nebraska (15-2, 7-1).........25 25 25
at Maryland (11-9, 3-5).....19 16 13
NU (kills-aces-blocks): Sun 12-1-2, Kubik 10-0-0, Sweet 6-0-4, Stivrins 6-0-3, Schwarzenbach 5-0-3, Hames 3-1-1, Miller 0-1-0, Densberger 0-1-0. Totals 32-4-13.
UM: Pritchard 10-0-4, Myers 6-1-1, Jones 5-0-4, Gardner 5-0-0, Schriner 2-0-1, Burgio 0-1-0. Totals 28-2-10.
Set assists: NU 38 (Hames 27, Kunckles 5, Kubik 3, Schwarzenbach 1, Stivrins 1, Miller 1), UM 27 (Alford 16, Snyder 9, Rivas 2).