On Friday night, the Huskers welcomed the #16 Michigan State volleyball team into a packed Devaney, hoping avenge the loss in East Lansing in October. The Huskers succeeded, winning 3-0(25-23, 25-13, 25-22).
On Justine Wong-Orantes’s serve, the Huskers opened a 3-0 lead before the first Spartan serve. On Kelsey Robinson’s serve, including a breath taking ace, the Huskers pushed the lead to 7-2. The Spartans made a comeback, getting as close as two points, before the Huskers extended the lead again to 14-10. A Kelsey Robinson kill forced Spartan Coach Kathy George to call timeout down 15-10.
Nebraska held the lead between three and four points until Michigan State closed it to 19-18 Nebraska, when Coach Cook used his first timeout. Amber Rolfzen got the first kill out of the timeout, giving the Huskers the serve. Kelsey Robinson recorded a kill to push the lead to 21-18.
A series of remarkable plays by Robinson got the Huskers their first set point up 24-20. The Spartans fought back hard, and the Huskers took their second timeout up 24-23. Out of the timeout, Halle Peterson missed her serve, giving the Huskers the 25-23 win. (We call that a coach’s point).
The Huskers hit .391 in the first set while the Spartans managed a .273. Six service errors for Michigan State to only three for Nebraska proved to be the difference, especially in key moments. Kelsey Robinson hit .556 for the Huskers, and the Big Red had 3.0 blocks to Michigan State’s 2.0.
Set two started off with offense, blocking, and hustle by the Huskers to open up a 4-1 lead. After trading points with the Spartans, the Huskers opened up a five point lead as Kelsey Robinson showed an off speed version of her jump-top spin serve.
A Mary Pollmiller dump kill started another Husker run that the ladies rode to an eight point lead and a Spartan timeout with the score Nebraska 15, Michigan State 7.
The Huskers eventually pushed the lead to 17-7 before two Spartan points closed the gap. With the Huskers up 21-11, Michigan State used their second timeout.
After a Michigan State service error, the Huskers pushed the lead to 24-12 with Kelsey Robinson serving. Her service error gave Michigan State the serve, but Meghan Haggerty placed a tip beautifully to win the set for the Huskers 25-13.
As a team, the Huskers hit a phenomenal .500 for the set, while the Spartans hit just .031. The Huskers pushed their total blocks for the match to 6.0, while Michigan State had 3.0 through two sets.
Amber Rolfzen was error-free in her attacking in the second set, and was hitting .700 for the match.
After winning the first point of the third set, Michigan’s Alexis Mathews served into the net and tied the set at one. After a sideout and a Robinson hitting error, Michigan State had a 3-1 lead and some life.
The teams exchanged points for quite awhile, but the Huskers tied the score at seven before the Spartans opened up a lead again to 9-7.
Robinson tied the match up at 12 with a kill and an ace. The Huskers took their first lead of the set at 13-12 and Michigan State used a timeout.
A well-placed Lauren Wicinski tip tied the set again out of the timeout, but a Kadie Rolfzen kill and Ethridge ace opened the lead up to 15-13 for the Huskers.
Great defensive hustle by the Huskers and errors by the Spartans force coach Kathy George to use her second, and final, timeout of the set with the Huskers up 19-15.
Coach Cook called the Huskers’ first timeout of the set with a 21-18 lead, but momentum swinging toward Michigan State.
The Spartans got within two at 21-19 Huskers when an Amber Rolfzen kill gave the serve back to Nebraska. Kelsey Robinson and Meghan Haggerty combined on a timely block to give the Huskers a 23-20 lead.
The Huskers’ first match point came on a Taylor Galloway serving error for Michigan State, and Kadie Rolfzen took care of the set and match with a kill. The Huskers won 25-22.
For the night, the Huskers outhit the Spartans .402 to .225. The Huskers outblocked the Spartans 7.0 to 5.0, and outdug the Spartans 35 to 29.
Three Husker hitters had ten or more kills and hit over .400. Amber Rolfzen hit .412 with 10 kills, Kadie Rolfzen hit .455 with 11 kills, and Kelsey Robinson hit .429 with 14 kills. Robinson also had 11 kills to record a double-double for the night.
The Huskers had three aces to five errors for the night, a much better night serving. These nights are coming more often and at the right time of year.
This win puts the Huskers in control of their own destiny as they head toward the end of season ending match against Penn State in the Devaney Center on November 30.
In his post-game press conference, Coach Cook mentioned that one of their goals for this match was to take them out of what they like to do offensively, setting the pins, and that the Huskers did that well, as was evidenced by the number of back row sets Michigan State had. He was also happy with the Huskers’ ability to score points in long rallies, and get hits out of system.
The Huskers will face the #19 Michigan Wolverines at 7:30 Saturday at Devaney. Video will be available for free on HuskersNSide.