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Volleyball: Huskers Declaw Wildcats

The Huskers Volleyball team hosted, and swept, the Northwestern Wildcats in Lincoln ahead of the game coming up Saturday in Evanston.

David McGee

As an appetizer to Saturday’s football game in Evanston, the Huskers’ Women’s Volleyball team welcomed the Northwestern Wildcats into the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday night. The night ended with a 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-13) Husker victory.

The Huskers opened up the Pink Out with an early 8-2 lead against the Wildcats, helped by a 5-0 serving run from Justine Wong-Orantes that included two straight aces. Northwestern used their first timeout of the set trailing 10-3.

The Huskers opened the lead to 16-7 forcing Northwestern’s second, and final, timeout of the set. The set never got close again, with the Husker eventually finishing off the Wildcats 25-12.

The Huskers hit .391 for the set, besting the Wildcats’ -.091. Alicia Ostrander (.667) and Kadie Rolfzen (1.000) led the Huskers with four kills apiece. For the set, the Huskers had 12 kills with only 3 errors, while Northwestern had 5 kills with 7 errors.

The Huskers had four aces against only three errors from the service line while Northwestern had no aces and two errors.

Northwestern started on serve in the second set and had a small early lead at 4-2, but the Huskers took the lead 5-4 on Wong-Orantes’s serve. The Wildcats ran off three straight to take a 7-5 lead, but great hustle by Amber Rolfzen saved the point and gave the Huskers the serve.

The set was tied at seven and again at eight before Northwestern took a three-point lead, 11-8, and Nebraska used the first timeout of the set.

Out of the timeout, the Huskers won four of five and tied it up at 12, but Husker errors and an improved Northwestern attack led to Northwestern’s biggest lead of the night at 16-12. The lead held steady at 3-4 until a Husker run on Sydney Townsend’s serve forced Northwestern’s first timeout of the second set up only one, 18-17.

The Huskers tied the match at 18, and then took the lead 20-19 on a Haggerty kill. A Haggerty solo block made the score 21-19 Nebraska and forced Northwestern’s second timeout.

Northwestern scored three points out of the timeout and Coach Cook called the second Husker timeout of the set with the score 22-21 Wildcats.

A Mary Pollmiller dump and Alexa Ethridge block gave the Huskers the lead 23-22, and a kill by Alicia Ostrander gave the Huskers set point, 24-22. The Huskers won the set on a second consecutive Ostrander kill.

The Huskers hit .243 in the second set with Alicia Ostrander leading the way with four kills and one error. Through two, Ostrander led all Husker attackers with eight kills on fourteen attempts. Kadie Rolfzen was right behind, contributing seven kills on only nine attempts.

The Huskers had four aces against only three errors from the service line while Northwestern had no aces and two errors.

The Huskers were hitting .300 through two sets with only eight errors. The team also had six service aces, two each by Annika Albrecht and Justine Wong-Orantes, against four errors.

Through two, the teams were knotted up at five blocks apiece, and the Huskers had the advantage in digs, 27-23.

The Huskers charged out of the gate, opening up a 7-0 lead on a service run by Mary Pollmiller that included her first ace of the night, and a rally that seemed to go on forever. That rally ended with a block by Amber Rolfzen and Cecilia Hall, and forced Northwestern’s first timeout of the third set.

The lead increased out of the timeout, with Alicia Ostrander terminating off the top of the block. Northwestern stopped the Husker run with the score 8-1.

Northwestern got to within five at 13-8, but the Huskers extended the lead again, forcing a second Northwestern timeout with the score 17-9 Huskers.

The Huskers extended the lead out of the Northwestern timeout and closed out the set 25-13 to complete the sweep.

The Huskers hit .290 on the night to .000 for Northwestern. Alicia Ostrander led the way for the Huskers with 12 kills and one error on 25 attempts. Kadie Rolfzen hit .500 with nine kills and two errors on fourteen attempts.

By the end of the match, the Huskers far outpaced the Wildcats in blocks, 11-6 with Amber Rolfzen, Cecilia Hall, and Meghan Haggerty each recording a solo block. The Huskers also outdug the Wildcats 42-40.

This match was a remarkable recovery for the Huskers. Northwestern is the first team outside the AVCA top 25, receiving 58 votes in the poll. To not only beat them, but throttle them in two of the three sets gives great hope for the rest of the season.

The Huskers also recovered in the second set, closing out the set, and recovered to dominate again in the third. The type of resilience needed to not only dominate the match, but dominate the third set is the kind of strength that is required to have success in the grueling B1G schedule.

Consistency was also evident in the match. Even when times were tough in the second set, Coach Cook stuck with the lineup that he had, and it paid off. That kind of consistency can build trust and confidence.

Coming up on Saturday, the Huskers will play host to the 15th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini. The match starts at 3:00 CDT and will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and rebroadcast on ESPN2 Sunday at noon.

#GBR (Forgot that in the last piece!)