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Huskers Close Big Ten Season with 3-1 Win Over Minnesota

Written byNate Pohlen

MINNEAPOLIS - The top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team earned a 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 21-25, 25-23) win over Minnesota to close out the Big Ten season on Saturday night at Maturi Pavilion in front of a crowd of 5,268. 

The Huskers finished the regular season at 28-1 overall and 19-1 in the Big Ten, matching their best ever record in Big Ten play. Minnesota fell to 16-12 overall and 12-8 in the Big Ten. 

Merritt Beason led the Huskers with 21 kills on .302 hitting and added nine digs. Harper Murray posted 13 kills and a career-high 17 digs. Ally Batenhorst also put down 13 kills, and Bekka Allick had eight.  

Nebraska had 15 blocks in the match to hold Minnesota to a .184 hitting percentage. Allick had a career-high 10 blocks. Beason had five, and Murray and Bergen Reilly both had four.

Reilly had 45 assists and 14 digs as the Huskers hit .235. Laney Choboy recorded 13 digs, and Lexi Rodriguez had 10. 

The Huskers had six aces, three of which came from Murray. Choboy had two, and Beason had the other. 

Minnesota got 16 kills from Mckenna Wucherer and 14 from Taylor Landfair

Set 1: The Huskers posted a 5-1 run to take an 11-7 lead. Allick had two kills, while Murray had one. Allick, Batenhorst and Beason recorded kills to keep the lead at four, 15-11. Minnesota cut it to 16-14, but Murray terminated and Reilly had a solo block and then a block with Allick to put the Huskers up five, 19-14. Reilly won a joust before Murray posted another kill and the Huskers led 21-15. Minnesota cut the deficit to 22-19 before two Batenhorst kills earned NU set point, 24-19. Beason put the set away, 25-19, with her fifth kill. 

Set 2: Beason sparked the Huskers with four kills, and Murray served an ace as the Huskers built a 7-3 lead before a Minnesota timeout. Beason added a service ace and two more kills as the Huskers went up 11-6. Minnesota scored three in a row to get within 11-9, but Murray and Beason answered with back-to-back kills as the Huskers restored their five-point lead, 14-9. Two more Murray kills lifted the Huskers to a 17-11 advantage. After Minnesota got within 17-13, Beason and Murray each terminated again, and kills by Batenhorst and Andi Jackson put NU ahead 21-15. After Minnesota cut it to 22-18, Beason notched her 14th kill and teamed up with Allick for a block to grab set point, 24-18. Murray then served her third ace of the night for the 25-18 win. 

Set 3: Nebraska trailed 5-3 before a dump by Reilly and back-to-back aces by Choboy gave Nebraska a 6-5 lead. Minnesota briefly regained a 7-6 lead, but Beason posted a kill, Reilly and Allick had a block, and then Murray, Batenhorst and Allick (twice) posted kills to make it 13-9 after a 4-0 run served by Murray. Minnesota sided out, but Batenhorst immediately answered with a kill and block with Jackson for a 15-10 lead. But Minnesota fought back to tie it 17-17 after a 7-2 spurt. Reilly then placed a kill to the back corner to earn a sideout for the Big Red, but the teams traded sideouts for eight rallies until a Minnesota block gave the Golden Gophers a 22-21 lead and started a 5-0 run that ended the set in their favor, 25-21. 

Set 4: Allick started with a kill and was in on two blocks, and Batenhorst had two kills to help NU to a 6-4 lead. However, Minnesota responded with a 4-0 run to go up 8-6, three of which came by unforced Husker hitting errors. Murray had two straight kills to level the score, and a block by Allick and Beason put NU back ahead, 11-10. Batenhorst had a kill and a block with Jackson to make it 13-11, and kills by Beason and Batenhorst kept the Huskers up by two, 15-13. But the Gophers blocked Nebraska's next two attacks to tie the score, 15-15. With the score tied 16-16, Nebraska went on a 4-0 run to take a 20-16 lead. Allick had back-to-back blocks with Murray and Beason, and Murray tipped a kill. After a Minnesota sideout, Allick and Murray stoned another Gopher attack to make it 21-17. After the Gophers cut it to 21-19, Allick and Batenhorst notched kills for a 23-19 Husker advantage, but Minnesota scored the next two to get within 23-21. Beason then hit her 21st kill for match point, 24-21, but the Golden Gophers fought off two match points to make it 24-23. However, Reilly and Jackson combined for a block to end the match at 25-23. 

Up Next: The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air on ESPN on Sunday at 5 p.m. (CT). The Huskers automatically clinched their spot in this year's NCAA Tournament by winning the Big Ten regular-season title.