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Huskers Fall at Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. - The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team fell for the first time this season, 25-22, 28-26, 25-16 at No. 5 Wisconsin in front of a crowd of 7,229 at the UW Field House on Friday afternoon. 

The Huskers, who wrapped up the outright Big Ten title last weekend, fell to 27-1 overall and 18-1 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin improved to 25-3 and 16-3 in the Big Ten. Nebraska finishes out the regular season on the road at Minnesota on Saturday at 8 p.m. 

Nebraska held late leads in both sets one and two before Wisconsin made plays down the stretch to win both. In the third set, the Badgers led most of the way after separating from a 7-7 tie with a 6-2 run. 

Harper Murray had 15 kills and hit .257 with eight digs to lead the Huskers. Ally Batenhorst added 11 kills on .409 hitting, and Merritt Beason also posted 11 kills. 

Bergen Reilly had 32 assists and 10 digs as the Huskers hit .243 for the match. Lexi Rodriguez had eight digs. 

Wisconsin clicked offensively, hitting .357. Anna Smrek had 18 kills, while Sarah Franklin added 16 as the Badgers remained undefeated at home this season. 

Set 1: The Huskers controlled the early part of the set, taking a 5-1 lead. After Wisconsin got within 6-4, Batenhorst and Jackson posted kills to keep NU up 8-5. Two Wisconsin hitting errors made it 10-6 Huskers, but Wisconsin scored four of the next five to pull within one, 11-10. Beason got a kill for a sideout, and the teams sided out back and forth for five rallies before a Wisconsin attacking error put the Big Red up 15-12 at the media timeout. Wisconsin got within 16-15, but Beason and Murray stepped up with kills to push the lead back to three, 18-15. But the Badgers answered with a 3-0 run to tie the score at 18-18 for the first time since 0-0. Reilly set Allick for a sideout kill to put the Huskers back in front, 19-18, but the Badgers tied it with a kill by Franklin and won a challenge before an ace serve and another Franklin kill made it 22-19 Wisconsin. The Huskers won a challenge that a Beason shot was deflected on the way out to get within 22-20, but the Badgers got two more kills to take set point at 24-20. Wisconsin served into the net and Batenhorst terminated to force a Wisconsin timeout at 24-22. But the Badgers ended the set, 25-22, on Franklin's eighth kill. 

Set 2: Batenhorst scored four straight Husker points with kills before a Wisconsin hitting error gave NU a 7-4 lead. Wisconsin tied it 7-7 before Batenhorst, Murray and Beason pounded three kills in a row to make it 10-7 Huskers. Allick and Murray struck back-to-back kills for a 15-12 NU lead, but the Badgers scored a 7-2 spurt to take a 19-17 lead. After a timeout, Murray stopped a four-point Badger run with a sideout kill, and the freshman came up clutch again to tie the score at 19-19. An ace by Maisie Boesiger gave the Huskers a 20-19 lead, and Murray blasted her ninth kill off a block to make it 21-19. With Boesiger still serving, Allick and Murray then teamed up for a block as the Huskers went up by three, 22-19, via a 5-0 run. But the Badgers answered with the next four points to claim a 23-22 advantage. Murray tied it with her eighth kill of the set, but the Badgers earned set point after a kill by Franklin. Murray answered once again to tie it at 24-24 and then served an ace for a Husker set point. Anna Smrek terminated for Wisconsin to make it 25-25, but Batenhorst answered with her seventh kill of the set for another chance at set point. Franklin kept the Badgers alive, and then a Husker hitting error made it 27-26 Wisconsin. Then a tip by Carter Booth fell to the floor for a 28-26 UW win. 

Set 3: Trailing 6-5, Wisconsin scored a 4-1 run to go up 9-7 and then gained separation from the Huskers with a 6-0 spurt that made it 21-12. A kill by Maggie Mendelson ended that run and made it 21-13, but the Badgers closed out the sweep at 25-16, hitting .593 in the final set. 

Up Next: The Huskers finish the regular season at Minnesota on Saturday at 8 p.m. That match will be televised on Big Ten Network.