ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Nebraska stormed back in the fifth set to edge Michigan on Friday night, setting up a Saturday showdown with Michigan State.
The No. 9 Huskers (12-2, 5-0) and No. 7 Spartans (16-1, 5-0) will battle for control of the Big Ten at 6 p.m. in East Lansing, Mich.
NU coach John Cook said his team raised its game to another level in edging No. 17 Michigan 25-13, 28-26, 10-25, 20-25, 15-8.
“We’ll be really scary if we learn to play at that level,” he said on his postgame radio show.
The Huskers came out blazing and hit .600 in the opening set. Cook said NU put on a clinic in that game but needed a gut-check to survive the second.
Michigan (11-5, 1-4) then took command in the third and fourth sets as the young Huskers struggled to keep the offense clicking.
The Wolverines used a 9-1 run to take a 15-6 lead in the third set and forced Nebraska to use two timeouts. They kept the Huskers off-balance throughout.
Nebraska hit minus-.036 in the set, while Michigan hit .560. NU was also outblocked 4-0 and outdug 14-9.
Things weren’t any better in set four.
“It’s the sign of a young team. We forgot we had to play,” Cook said. “These guys aren’t going to roll over and give it to us.”
Cook said he challenged sophomore middle blocker Meghan Haggerty to get the Huskers back on track in the fifth set. She responded with a big kill and two blocks as NU hit .533.
A double-block from Cecilia Hall and Amber Rolfzen tied the fifth set 2-2, and a block, followed by a kill from Kadie Rolfzen put the Huskers up 9-6. Nebraska extended the lead to 13-6, then closed out the win.
“It was great to see,” Cook said. “Meghan was great out there. She had to take over this match.”
Haggerty finished with nine kills.
Kelsey Robinson notched 23 kills and a match-high 17 digs. Kadie Rolfzen posted 13 kills. Mary Pollmiller added 46 assists while Hall recorded nine blocks.
Nebraska outhit Michigan .238-.203. The Huskers posted a season-high 18 blocks.
Cook said he was happy with the way the match ended.
“In game five, we did great,” he said. “It was nice to win in five after losing here last year.”
Michigan State swept Iowa 3-0 Friday night to stay unbeaten in the Big Ten. The Spartans are off to their best start since 1995, when they reached the final four.
Nebraska (12-2, 5-0) ............................ 25 28 10 20 15
At Michigan (11-5, 1-4) ............................ 13 26 25 25 8
NU (kills-aces-blocks): A. Rolfzen 2-0-0, K. Rolfzen 13-0-2, Hall 4-0-0, Pollmiller 4-0-0, Haggerty 9-0-1, Robinson 23-1-1, Lyles 0-1-0, Broekhuis 1-0-0, Fien 2-0-0. Totals 58-2-18.
UM (kills-aces-blocks): Toon 2-0-0, Cross 13-2-1, Dannemiller 5-0-0, Erwin 12-0-1, Goode 5-0-2, Sabol 1-1-0, Murphy 1-0-0, Davis 8-0-0, Morales 0-1-0, Cole 12-0-1. Totals 59-4-12.
Set assists: NU 57 (Pollmiller 46, Robinson 3, A. Rolfzen 2, Hunter 2, Wong-Orantes 2, K. Rolfzen 1, Hall 1), UM 55 (Dannemiller 44, Lee 4, Erwin 3, Morales 2, Sabol 1, Murphy 1).