Nebraska Volleyball: Ameritas Players Challenge Champions

David McGee

The Huskers swept the Iowa State Cyclones to win the Ameritas Players Challenge

Nebraska swept the Iowa State Cyclones 25-13, 25-22, 27-25

The Huskers started off strong against the Iowa State Cyclones. Kelsey Robinson came out on a mission, recording two quick kills with no errors for a hitting percentage of 1.000, and adding a solo block to take the score to 8-2 and force a Cyclone timeout.

The Cyclones made three early hitting errors to help pad the Husker lead. The Huskers continued to keep the pressure on, forcing Cyclone more errors, and adding blocks.

The offense looked dynamic in a way they haven’t all season. There was a confidence and a swagger on the court. The Huskers threw in misdirection and tricky offense, including a back row attack by Kelsey Robinson disguised by Alicia Ostrander running the three.

An odd service error was committed by Kelsey Robinson at 22-12 where she stepped outside the sideline to serve. The marks past the baseline indicate the limits of where a server can serve from.

In set one, Nebraska hit .240, and ISU hit -.148. However, the only Huskers above .000 were Kadie Rolfzen (.500) and Kelsey Robinson (.571).

Iowa State started off much stronger in the second set, taking an early lead. Huskers tied it up at 9-9, before the Cyclones ran off three points leading to Coach Cook calling his first timeout of the match.

At 12-12 in the set, Mary Pollmiller had a serve called an ace by the line judge that was over ruled by the first official. The arena, and Coach Cook, argued loudly, and Coach Cook was given a yellow card. Devaney came to life. There is no doubt now that it is the greatest volleyball arena in the country.

Nebraska took the lead at 19-18 and built momentum through the rest of the set.

Iowa State held the lead for much of the third set due to multiple communication errors by Nebraska. The Huskers took their first lead of the set at 18-17. Kadie Rolfzen’s kill at 20-18 forced ISU to use their first timeout of the set. The Cyclones forced a Nebraska timeout at 23-23, but the Big Red held strong to finish the set 27-25.

Three Huskers hit over .300 in the match. Kelsey Robinson led the way with a phenomenal .424. Kadie Rolfzen hit .312 while Amber Rolfzen hit .308. Amber also contributed 11 digs, while Justine Wong-Orantes added 9.

The Huskers were outdug by Iowa State 46-41. After a rough first set, the Cyclones certainly showed why they’re a nationally ranked team, coming into the match at #17 in the country. They clearly recovered from what seemed like an initial shock as the visitors. The environment in the Devaney Center will take a lot of teams by surprise this season.

Serving errors are still a problem for the Huskers. There were nine missed serves over the three sets. That’s giving away three points per set. In matches where we’re winning by fewer than three points, those can become critical turning points in matches.

As a follow up to an earlier piece, the Huskers have gone back to using the 5-1 offense. I mentioned, in explaining the difference between a 5-1 and a 6-2, that Kadie Rolfzen’s return might change that. Her return to health, along with Mary Pollmiller’s development, has precipitated that change.

The times when Kelly Hunter has been on the court, the offense has been fine, but not as dynamic as it is with Pollmiller setting. Time and experience will change that. The 6-2 remains an option in situations where a bigger right side blocker is needed.

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