The one and only live volleyball game I went to in college was a game I announced and it was a good one. A five set thriller against Purdue. I'd say it's fitting that this match against Purdue is also my first volleyball match at the Devaney.
Purdue started off well early on with some key blocks and picked their spots really well which forced John Cook into calling a timeout with the Huskers down 12-8. Robinson and Kadie Rolfzen are hitting well and the Huskers became to creep back in for Purdue to call a timeout up 17-15 however after there was a communication error on the service ace for Purdue, Coach Cook called another timeout with the Huskers trailing 20-17. The unforced errors by the Huskers continued near the end of the set as Purdue took the first set 25-20. Definitely not the Husker volleyball we are used to seeing though credit to Purdue as their defense and ability to keep rallies alive earned them the set win.
The service and hitting errors continued in the second set but the Huskers weren't able to pull away. Things began to open up in the Huskers as Kadie and Amber Rolfzen got big kills to keep things close. Amber Rolfzen and Megan Haggerty got big blocks to give a slim lead for the Huskers. There was a timeout on the floor when the Huskers had a 15-14 but coming out of the break the errors returned and Cook calls a timeout after Purdue scored three straight. The Huskers had no answer for some of the kills by Sam Epenesa and Catherine Robarchak. The Huskers came close again cutting down the deficit to 23-22 but after a couple timeouts, Purdue regrouped and took the set 25-22 going into the break. Purdue was smashing their shots all over the court and for the most part Nebraska didn't have an answer.
Nebraska came out a lot better in the third set with more keys digs to extend rallies and huge blocks to turn the table on Purdue and force them to call a timeout down 12-7. Purdue started to clean things up a little bit but the Huskers were able to retain an 18-14 lead. Nebraska started hitting their shots and Purdue began hitting a few shots long. The crowd was fired up when Cecilia Hall finished off Purdue with a kill and the Huskers took the third set 25-19. Could there be a comeback in this one? Robinson was up to 13 kills including five in the third set. Amber and Kadie Rolfzen had nine and seven kills respectively through three sets. Annie Drew and Catherine Rebarchak each had 12 kills for Purdue. One key stat is that the Boilermakers out digging the Huskers 36-26.\
Nebraska came out firing again the fourth set going up 4-0 early forcing Purdue to call an early timeout after running out of them in the third set. However a few unforced errors began to creep up on the Huskers again and Coach Cook called a timeout after the lead was cut to 8-6. Things started to balance out and the Huskers continued to rack up more digs. Both teams went back and forth with kills and digs and the set was really entertaining to watch as Purdue knotted things up at 18-18. However after a couple big Purdue blocks on Kelsey Robinson, Purdue took the lead for the first time in the set 21-19. Purdue finished off the game with three consecutive blocks including a double block after an extended rally to finish off the set 25-20 and beat the Huskers three sets to one.
John Cook liked to employ the strategy of subbing in freshman Brenna Lyles, Alexa Ethridge and Kelly Hunter as serving specialists throughout the match.
Purdue did not seem to have any service errors in the match. This is mostly due to the fact that all their balls were high floating serves which sometimes threw Nebraska off.
Val Nichol had a huge fourth set for Purdue with six of her total 13 kills coming in that set. She also led the team with 32 assists and seven digs while doing very well to set up the Purdue outside hitters throughout the match. Catherine Rebarchak also had a solid match with 17 kills and six digs in the match.
Kelsey Robinson led the team with 15 kills and nine digs in the match while Amber and Kadie Rolfzen combined for 23 kills. Purdue out-dug Nebraska 50-41 and had ten team blocks to Nebraska's eight. Nebraska only managed to hit .098 in the fourth set.
Press Conference Notes
Purdue Volleyball coach Dave Shondell said defense was always their stronghold and they had plenty of blocks and digs tonight but their offense came alive tonight with a big game from Catherine Robarchak. Shondell also gave a lot of credit to Kelsey Robinson along with Amber and Kadie Rolfzen for their performances.
Coach John Cook thought the team did not come to play at a high level tonight and had very undisciplined blocking while Purdue played at a very high level and were able to pass around the ball very well. Cook wasn't happy that Nebraska has let opponents hit over .300 against them twice in as many weeks. It was also interesting to hear Cook say the team had a lot of trouble dealing with Catherine Robarchak and tried matching up Kadie Rolfzen with her as the match went on.
Kadie Rolfzen said that Purdue scouted them well and matched up with them very well. Kelsey Robinson felt that the Huskers play as individuals and as a team tonight.
The young Husker players learned a lot tonight from a very experienced Purdue squad starting five seniors. There is still plenty of volleyball matches left for them to respond and come back stronger as a team. Every home game they will have around 8000 fans backing them which is more than enough to keep pushing them going forward.
GO BIG RED!!!