Volleyball: Huskers Outlast #19 Michigan

One night after knocking off #16 Michigan State, the Huskers Volleyball Team beat the #19 Michigan Wolverines 3-1 in front of more than 8,100 at the Devaney Center.

The Husker Volleyball Team completed the weekend sweep in Devaney by beating the #19 Michigan Wolverines 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-21, 25-19).

In the first set, Michigan took advantage of sloppy early play by the Huskers to force a Husker timeout down 5-1. The Wolverine blocking stymied the Huskers early on, as well, and the Wolverines opened up a five point lead.

The Huskers didn’t really clean up the play until later in the first. There were a couple of bright spots in the form of kills from Kadie Rolfzen, Kelsey Robinson, and Meghan Haggerty, but the Huskers didn’t seem to get any rhythm going. Finally, on Kelsey Robinson’s serve, and down 13-17, the Huskers went on a run and forced Michigan to use their first timeout of the set with the Huskers trailing 15-17.

Two Meghan Haggerty blocks (one solo, one assist with Mary Pollmiller) tied the set at 17 before a service error gave Michigan a sideout. Kadie Rolfzen then had two straight kills to take the first Husker lead of the night, 19-18.

Michigan used their second timeout with the Huskers leading 21-19. The Huskers used strong blocking to get themselves back in the set, and push to the win, 25-20.

After a rough start, the Huskers recovered to hit .281 with 14 kills to Michigan’s .135 and 13 kills. The Huskers ended up with 6.0 blocks for the set while Michigan had 4.0.

Michigan took the first two points of the second set, but quickly found themselves down 6-4 to the Huskers. Michigan used their first timeout after a frantic point that ended with with a Kelsey Robinson block and the Huskers leading 8-5. A Brenna Lyles ace pushed the lead to 9-5.

Michigan took back some momentum and the Huskers took their first timeout down 12-11. Michigan kept riding the momentum and opened up a four point lead, 16-12, on the Huskers before an Amber Rolfzen kill stopped the run. The Michigan run was aided by attacking errors and net violations on the Huskers.

Coach Cook used the second timeout of the set with the Huskers trailing 21-17 and after subbing Morgan Broekhuis in for Amber Rolfzen, to the delight of the Devaney crowd. With the Huskers down 22-17, Melanie Keil was subbed in for Meghan Haggerty as a middle blocker. It didn’t make a difference in the Huskers’ play, however, and Michigan won the set 25-20.

Hitting was the Huskers’ biggest problem in set two, as Michigan hit .237 and the Huskers hit .114. The Huskers managed 5.0 blocks in the set to Michigan’s 2.0, illustrating that many of the errors by the Huskers were unforced.

After two sets, Kadie Rolfzen was the Huskers’ leading hitter, with 10 kills and a .350 hitting percentage. Robinson added eight kills, but also had four errors and was hitting .160. Mary Pollmiller had the second highest hitting number, .333, but that was one kill on three attempts.

The Huskers looked revitalized to start the second set. Michigan got a couple of early points, but good blocking and a dynamic offense put the Huskers back on top.

Michigan answered with a four point run, and the Huskers took their first timeout down 8-4.

The Huskers managed to retake the lead at 11-10, and extended it to 16-13 when Michigan called their first timeout.

Out of the Wolverine timeout, the Huskers extended their lead to 20-16 with well-placed kills shots and more good blocking. Michigan closed the gap to 20-18, and the Huskers opened it up to 22-18, and then Michigan closed it to two points again, and the Huskers took a timeout with the lead 22-20.

Out of the timeout, the Huskers went on a two point run, and Michigan called their second and final timeout at the Huskers’ first set point. After a Michigan sideout, Kelsey Robinson ripped a shot to the center of the court, giving the Huskers the point and the set, 25-21.

The Huskers hit .378 in the set with 4.0 blocks and 18 kills. Michigan hit .308 with 16 kills, but did not have a block. Kelsey Robinson had seven kills in the set, and Kadie Rolfzen had four. Robinson and Pollmiller both had aces in the set, and the Huskers did not commit any service errors.

Michigan took the early lead in the fourth set, but the Huskers fought back and took the lead at 5-4.

The Huskers had a 10-7 lead when Michigan called their first timeout after a frantic point that somehow ended with a Robinson kill. During the point, Alexa Ethridge managed a pancake save that Michigan Coach Mark Rosen contested hotly with the down official.

Nebraska opened up a five point lead, 15-10, before a three point Michigan run led to the first Husker timeout of the set.

A Michigan hitting error pushed the Husker lead back to five, and the Wolverines called their final timeout with the score Nebraska 19, Michigan 14. Kelsey Robinson came out of the timeout and recorded her second ace of the night. The Huskers never relinquished the lead and won the set 25-19.

Meghan Haggerty notched a career high 11 blocks for the night. Kadie Rolfzen had a double-double on a night where she tied her career high with 20 kills (.444), and also recorded 10 digs. Kelsey Robinson had 21 (.275) kills with 12 digs to record a double-double of her own. Justine Wong-Orantes had 13 digs on the night. Nebraska outhit (.286-.216), outblocked (18-9) and outdug (60-53) Michigan for the match.

We saw a couple things out of the ladies this weekend that would indicate we’re peaking at the right time. One was the ability of all of the hitters to change their attack when the situation warranted. Robinson, both Rolfzens, Cecilia Hall, and Meghan Haggerty all had effective tips and off-speed swings in addition to their typical hard-driven attacks.

The Huskers also limited Michigan runs, and pushed longer runs. This match had good runs for both teams, but Nebraska’s were longer. Admittedly, the home court advantage of Devaney played a major role (Coach Cook acknowledged the role of the crowd in the press conference), but the fact that they put together great runs and won a lot of long rallies.

The Huskers hit the road next weekend against Purdue on Friday (Nov. 22) and Indiana on Saturday (Nov. 23).

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