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Husker volleyball hopes for wins against Penn State, Rutgers | Sports

The No. 8 Nebraska volleyball team will take on a pair of Big Ten foes in Lincoln this weekend.

On Friday, the Huskers will face No. 7 Penn State and the next night the team will take on Rutgers.

Nebraska comes into the match at 16-6 (7-5 Big Ten) this season after losing its most recent match to then-No. 6 Illinois last Saturday. All six of Nebraska’s losses this season have come against teams ranked in the top ten.

Penn State also comes into the match off a loss and has a record of 18-4 (9-3 Big Ten). The Nittany Lions had their nine-match win streak snapped by then-No. 17 Purdue last Saturday. Penn State held a 2-0 lead before the Boilermakers won the last three sets to win the match.

In the two teams’ first match this season just over two weeks ago, the Nittany Lions defeated the Huskers in five sets. The loss snapped Nebraska’s seven-game win streak.

Friday’s match against Penn State will also be the 250th consecutive regular season sellout for the Nebraska volleyball team. Nebraska head coach John Cook said he is impressed with the Husker fans who have kept the streak alive since 2001.

“Our fans are awesome,” Cook said. “That’s an impressive streak. Nothing else in women’s sports in the NCAA comes close, anytime, anywhere. There is no place like Nebraska.”

Penn State is led on offense by senior outside hitter Nia Reed. She leads the team with 3.31 kills per set and has at least 11 kills in each of the Nittany Lions’ last seven matches. In the first match against Nebraska, Reed earned 20 kills, her most in any match this season.

The Nittany Lions are also strong on the defensive side. Penn State ranks third in the country in blocks per set with 2.94. A pair of freshmen middle blockers, Kaitlyn Hord and Serena Gray, are both averaging over one block per set this year to help bolster the Nittany Lions’ defense.

The Nittany Lions are also ranked second in the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage as they allowed opponents to hit .160 against them this season. The team ahead of them in this category is Nebraska, which ranks first in the Big Ten and second nationally at .136.

The Huskers’ opponent on Saturday, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, have struggled in Big Ten play this season to say the least. The Scarlet Knights have yet to win a game in the conference in 12 tries this season and are 6-19 overall (0-12 Big Ten). Rutgers has been swept eight times by Big Ten opponents this season.

Nebraska has not lost to the Scarlet Knights in 40 years. Since joining the Big Ten, the Huskers are 5-0 against Rutgers and have swept the Scarlet Knights in every match.

First serve for Friday’s match against Penn State is set for 7 p.m. and will air on BTN and BTN2GO. Saturday’s match against Rutgers will also start at 7 p.m., but will air on NET and BTN2GO.

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