Husker Volleyball Follows Football's Lead - Beats Northwestern in Five Sets

David McGee - CN

The Husker volleyball team followed up the heart-stopping football finish by defeating the Northwestern Wildcats volleyball team in five sets at the Devaney Center.

The Huskers volleyball team followed up the football team’s miraculous win over the Northwestern Wildcats with and exciting five set win over Northwestern in Devaney 21-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 15-13.

I did my due diligence as a Husker fan today and stayed until the very end of the football game, so by the time I got to Devaney, the Huskers were down by three. Northwestern more or less held that until the end of the first set.

Northwestern won the attacking battle .268-.200 in the first set. Cecelia Hall hit .750 for the set, with three kills on four attempts and no errors. Blocking was about even in set one, with the Huskers holding a slight three to two edge.

Mary Pollmiller started off the second set with a setter dump for a kill. Kadie Rolfzen and Cecelia Hall earned Nebraska’s second point with an assisted block. The Wildcats opened up a slight lead to 10-8 at which point Kadie Rolfzen’s kill and Kelsey Robinson and Cecilia Hall combined on a block to tie it at 10.

With the Huskers up 14-13 in the second, Meghan Haggerty entered the match for Melanie Keil and immediately earned the assist on the Kelsey Robinson kill to put the Big Red up 15-13 at the media timeout.

Northwestern used their first time out down 17-14, and their second down 20-14. Robinson took serve up 16-14 and didn’t give it up again until 21-15. Cecilia Hall finished off the set with a tip kill. The Huskers won 25-17.

The Huskers hit an incredible .545 for the second set. They corrected their hitting errors from set number one. The Huskers had only two errors in the second set to seven in the first.

Through two sets, the Huskers lead the Wildcats 7-2 in blocks, and 27-23 in digs. Coach Cook used some players that haven’t played a lot, like Morgan Broekhuis as a serving sub, and moved Brenna Lyles to libero in place of Justine Wong-Orantes.

In the third set, Northwestern opened up a 9-5 lead that forced Coach Cook to use his first timeout. The Wildcats maintained that lead until they were forced to use a timeout up only 19-17 with momentum in Devaney switching to the Huskers’ favor.

Kadie Rolfzen tallied a solo block to tie the set at 19, but Northwestern took the next point and then extended their lead to 22-19 forcing Coach Cook to use his second and final timeout. Northwestern never gave the lead off and finished the set off 25-21.

The attacking for both teams in the third set can only be described as abysmal, with the Wildcats winning the battle .103-.068. Both teams had 19 digs in the set, and Northwestern committed just one service error to four for Nebraska.

Northwestern opened up a quick 4-1 lead in the fourth, but a Brenna Lyles ace tied the set at 5. The Huskers seized momentum early in the set with incredible offensive and defensive play at the net, stretching the lead to 7-5 before a Stephanie Holthus kill for the Wildcats.

The Huskers had a 15-10 lead at the media timeout, and pushed it to 17-11 forcing Northwestern to use its first timeout of the set. Out of the timeout, Nebraska pushed two more points and forced the final Northwestern timeout at 19-11 Huskers.

The Huskers won the fourth on an Amber Rolfzen kill 25-17.

The Huskers hit .478 in the fourth, led by six Kadie Rolfzen kills, to Northwestern’s .219. The Huskers didn’t make a service error and only had one errant attack. They added five blocks to push their total for the match to 15.

A hard shot down the line by Amber Rolfzen put the Huskers up 4-3 in the fifth and deciding set, then a double block by Haggerty and Robinson forced a Northwestern timeout down 5-3. A Kelsey Robinson kill put the Huskers up 8-4 as the teams switched sides of the court.

The blocking and hitting from the Huskers continued to be on point and electrify the Devaney Center as Robinson and Haggerty combined to roof the Northwestern attack and force the second Wildcat timeout with the Huskers up 9-4.

Service errors by Robinson and Broekhuis let the Wildcats back in the match at 11-8, but the crowd acted as a true 7th player tonight. The combination of the football game and the exciting match at Devaney had the energy off the charts for the fifth set.

Coach Cook called his first timeout up 12-10. During the timeout, a sports movie montage (started with Ron Burgundy) brought the crowd to their feet. However, the Wildcats put together two impressive rallies to force a second Nebraska timeout with the set tied at 12.

Amber Rolfzen got a kill straight away out of the timeout, putting her sister Kadie back to serve. A Kelsey Robinson kill gave the Huskers their first matchpoint, up 14-12. A spectacular kill by Kelsey Robinson gave the Huskers the win 15-13.

This match ended up being nearly as exciting as the football game earlier in the night. The Huskers managed to pull it out without having to go to "overtime".

When asked at the post-game press conference why Lyles played libero in place of Wong-Orantes, Coach Cook answered simply that some players hadn’t earned their playing time in practice this week. Brenna did a nice job, recording 15 digs on the evening, Wong-Orantes has seemed to be a better option this season.

Kelsey Robinson had 21 kills on 47 attempts to hit .319 on the night. Kadie Rolfzen added 18 kills on 44 attempts and hit .227 on the night. Both Robinson and Rolfzen had a double-double on the night recording 16 and 17 digs, respectively.

The ladies hit the road this weekend, playing Wisconsin Friday night, then Minnesota next Sunday at 3:30 on BTN. The little errors should continue to clean up, and this team’s confidence should build heading toward the post season.

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