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Courtesy of Husker Athletics

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team clinched the outright Big Ten title on Sunday with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-15 sweep of Iowa at XTream Arena in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,535.

The Huskers (27-0, 18-0 Big Ten) won their 35th all-time conference championship, including their fourth Big Ten title and first since 2017. With two matches remaining in the regular season at Wisconsin (Friday) and at Minnesota (Saturday), the Huskers have a three-game lead in the conference standings.

Merritt Beason had a match-high 12 kills, and Bekka Allick, Ally Batenhorst and Harper Murray all had nine kills. Allick hit .571 and added three blocks. Andi Jackson recorded seven kills and three blocks.

Lexi Rodriguez had 19 digs in the sweep. Murray and Bergen Reilly each had nine. Laney Choboy and Beason had eight apiece, while Choboy led the Huskers with a pair of aces.

Reilly finished with 37 assists, as the Huskers hit .233 with 46 kills. Iowa hit .121 with 30 kills.

Set 1: Murray had a kill and a service ace as the Huskers took a 6-2 lead. Two kills by Batenhorst and another by Murray and one by Beason made it 11-5. Iowa got within 13-9 before kills by Beason and Allick put the lead back at six at the media timeout, 15-9. After the break, Murray added another kill for a 16-9 advantage, and Batenhorst put down two more for an 18-11 lead. The Huskers led 20-13, but Iowa scored a 10-3 run to cut it to 23-20. A setting error by Iowa gave NU set point, 24-20, and Jackson put the set away at 25-21 with a kill on the slide.

Set 2: With the score tied 7-7, Beason terminated from the back row, and Murray and Allick teamed up for a block before Iowa hit wide to make it 10-7 Huskers. After an Iowa point, Murray and Allick tallied kills for a 12-8 advantage, but the Hawkeyes fought back with a 4-0 run to tie the score at 12-12. The score remained tied at 16-16 before an Iowa serving error and hitting error put the Big Red up 18-16. Allick tipped a kill to the floor, and Beason added her eighth kill for a 22-19 lead. Another Beason kill made it 23-20, and Batenhorst earned set point at 24-21 with her seventh kill. Jackson ended the set in the same way she did as the first set, 25-21 on the slide.

Set 3: Iowa shot out to a 6-2 lead before a kill by Beason and ace by Beason cut it to 6-4. The Hawkeyes went back up by four, 8-4, but a kill by Jackson and ace by Choboy brought NU back within two, 8-6. Back-to-back kills by Murray, followed by a Beason/Allick block and another Murray kill put the Huskers in front, 11-10. With the score tied 13-13, Allick and Murray had kills around an Iowa hitting error to put the Huskers up 16-13. Iowa sided out with a kill, but the Huskers produced a 7-0 run to take a commanding 23-14 lead. During that stretch, Batenhorst had two kills, Beason and Murray each had one, and Reilly and Jackson had two blocks. The Huskers finished off the sweep, 25-15, on a Choboy ace.

Up Next: The Huskers will be on the road over Thanksgiving at No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday (3 p.m.) and at Minnesota on Saturday (8 p.m.).

Head Coach John Cook Postgame Quotes
“It’s still a bit surreal. It’s such a long grind in the Big Ten. I was actually surprised tonight, I didn’t think our players felt very much pressure. We didn’t play great tonight. Iowa played really well. I saw the emotion at the end and how much that meant to them. It just felt like a thousand pounds came off of us to clinch it and win that match today. To win it outright is a major statement. It’s something they really wanted and I saw us in game three really turn it up. They made a statement in game three. We played some really great volleyball the last 15 points of that game.”

“Like Lexi told me in the stadium match, ‘Coach, you soaking it all in?’ You’ve just got to soak this all in and be amazed at these players and their leadership and how hard they’ve worked and their belief in each other. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The fans that showed up here, it’s unreal. For that many people to be in an opponent’s gym to see us win this thing, it shows you how much love there is for this team.”

“I never, ever envisioned we would be in this position through the Big Ten season, just because I know how hard it is. You look at the teams that have been winning it, you don’t go through this thing unscathed. But to win it in week nine, I’m still amazed. Credit to the players and the leadership on this team with Merritt and Lexi. They’ve done an amazing job. These are some memories they’re going to take with them the rest of their lives. You can say you’re trying to win trophies and championships and obviously it’s cool, but the journey is really cool too. That’s what’s been so cool with this group. It’s a really cool journey.”

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