After a thrilling sweep of number eight Minnesota on Friday night, the Husker volleyball team welcomed the 23rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers to Devaney on Saturday night.
The first set started off back and forth, but Wisconsin built a lead on sloppy serve-receive and offensive errors by the Huskers. Coach Cook used his second timeout down 9-16. The Huskers fought their way back, forcing Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield to call timeout at 19-15 Badgers.
The Huskers fought their way back to take the lead at 22-21. After being down 13-19, the Huskers took the set 25-23 on a Meghan Haggerty kill.
The Huskers hit .189, but still bested Wisconsin’s .149. Kelsey Robinson hit .308, and Meghan Haggerty hit .500 on four attempts.
Wisconsin seemed to be overwhelmed by Devaney’s atmosphere, making three late service errors as The Bob got loud. The Huskers only had one for the set, while the Badgers had a total of four.
The Huskers started much stronger in set two, opening up and early 7-4 lead on Kelsey Robinson’s four quick kills. After Wisconsin pulled to within one, the Huskers opened up a 15-11 lead and forced a Badger timeout.
The Badgers didn’t quit, and forced a Nebraska timeout at 19-17, before tying the set at 19. The Badgers had the lead at 22-23, but the Huskers rode the strength of Kelsey Robinson’s hitting to a 26-24 set victory.
After two sets, the Huskers were outhitting the Badgers .247-.222. Robinson was hitting a phenomenal .417, with Haggerty at .444 on nine attempts. Nebraska had outblocked Wisconsin 8.5-4.0. Wisconsin had six total service errors to Nebraska’s four.
Nebraska came out strong again in the third set with a 3-0 lead. Wisconsin fought back and forced a Husker timeout at 9-11 Badgers. The Huskers then retook the lead at 13-12. After the Huskers pulled to a three point lead, the Badgers fought back and forced a Husker timeout with the score tied at 19.
A Wisconsin ace pushed their lead to 23-20, and saw Coach Cook put Morgan Broekhuis in. Wisconsin finished strong to win 25-22.
Wisconsin outhit Nebraska in the third set .256-.237. Haliegh Nelson was leading the way for the Badgers with a .312. Setter Mary Pollmiller had a .571 through three sets with no attack errors for the Big Red.
Wisconsin opened up a 9-5 lead in the fourth set and forced a Husker timeout. The Huskers fought back and tied the score at 13 on a Pollmiller solo block of Deme Morales.
After a couple of serving errors in the third set, Kelsey Robinson switched from her jump top spin serve to her more consistent jump float and quickly recorded her first ace of the night.
Amber Rolfzen recorded a solo roof block to give the Huskers the lead at 20-19, and force the Badgers to take their second timeout of the set. Wisconsin then pushed to a 22-21 lead and forced a Husker timeout.
Off a Robinson kill, the Huskers took a 23-22 lead. A Wisconsin service error as the crowd raised the volume gave the Huskers their first match point at 24-23. The Badgers then got a sideout and an ace to force a 25-24 Wisconsin set point.
Wisconsin had set points at 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31 as neither team could hold serve. Alexa Etheridge played front row when the Huskers ran out of subs at 30-30. Each team is limited to 15 substitutions per set, and Alexa The set ended on a Kelsey Robinson back row attack error.
The Huskers hit .160 in the fourth set, while Wisconsin hit .267. Nebraska couldn’t capitalize on the five service errors committed by Wisconsin.
The deciding set started with Kelsey Robinson recording two kills and the Huskers opening up a 6-3 lead to force a Badger timeout. Nebraska pushed the lead to 8-3 when the teams switched sides.
In the end, Wisconsin made too many service errors, and the Huskers rose to the challenge in the deciding set. Devaney again proved itself to be an incredible home court advantage. The Huskers absolutely controlled the fifth set, and the arena deserves much of the credit.
On a Kadie Rolfzen kill, the Huskers finished the 3-2 win off with a 15-6 deciding set.
Wisconsin hit -.120 in the fifth set while the Huskers hit .462.
Nebraska outdug (84-76), outhit (.236-.195), and outblocked (17.5-13.0) Wisconsin. Both teams committed double digit serving errors, but Nebraska only had 12 to Wisconsin’s 16. Wisconsin made a lot of critical errors that seemed to be because of the crowd at Devaney.
Kelsey Robinson hit an incredible .393 with 29 kills on 56, yes 56, attempts. She added 22 digs to record yet another double-double.
Justine Wong-Orantes added 19 digs on the night. She had an incredible performance tonight, as she was almost always in the right place. She showed again why she plays such a pivotal role in our defense as a freshman.
These are the kinds of matches that we can expect throughout the season in the Big Ten. Purdue pushed Penn State to five sets tonight, as well. The B1G is to volleyball what the SEC is to football right now. It’s a gauntlet all season long, and eight of the top 25 teams are from the B1G, with Illinois just outside.
It’s easy to forget that the Kadie and Amber Rolfzen are freshmen, and they might struggle from time to time. We’re fortunate to have experience in Robinson, as well as our sophomore middles to depend on when they do. It also helps that Pollmiller can set a hitter back into the match.
Wisconsin’s setter is a Freshman, Lauren Carlini from Aurora, Illinois. As a high school senior, she was rated the number one recruit by prepvolleyball.com and was 2012 Gatorade National Player of the Year. Carlini showed fantastic athletic ability and decision-making, being very diligent about when she dumped, making nearly all her dumps effective. She’s going to drive B1G teams crazy for awhile.