The Husker Volleyball team welcomed the number three ranked, and defending national champion, Penn State Nittany Lions to Lincoln on Friday night and pulled off a HUGE upset, 3-1 (12-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-23).
Penn State took off and forced a Husker timeout with the score 6-1 Penn Statein the first set. The Huskers pushed a couple points closer, but the Nittany Lions extended the lead to 15-5 and forced Coach Cook’s second timeout.
Confusion among the officials slowed the game with Penn State up 16-5, electrifying the Devaney crowd. However, overpasses and poor blocking doomed the Huskers who lost 25-12 to the Nittany Lions.
The Huskers hit -.037 for the set with Kadie Rolfzen leading the way a mere three kills and a hitting percentage of .125. Pollmiller, Haggerty, and Keil added a kill apiece and the Big Red recorded only six kills for the set to thirteen for Penn State.
Penn State opened up a 2-0 lead in the second, but an Ostrander kill and a Penn State error made tied it up at two.
An Amber Rolfzen kill brought the Devaney crowd to their feet and gave the Huskers their first lead of the night 4-3. A Wong-Orantes ace and a Haggerty block pushed the lead to 6-3. Penn State took their first timeout down 7-3.
The Huskers held the lead for quite awhile in the second set, though Penn State chipped away. However, the lead state at two to three points for quite awhile with the Huskers having a 17-14. However, Penn State tied it up at 17, forcing a Nebraska timeout.
The Huskers took the first three points out of the timeout and forced Penn State to use their final timeout of the set with the score Huskers 20, Penn State 17.
Coach Cook used the second Nebraska timeout with the Huskers up 22-21, but Micha Hancock on the service line for Penn State.
A Cecilia Hall kill put Justine Wong-Orantes on the service line with the set point 24-22. A Hall block iced the second set for the Big Red 25-22.
Nebraska hit .167 in the second to Penn State’s .100. Alicia Ostrander had five kills in the second set and through two sets, Meghan Haggerty led all hitters with a .222 hitting pace.
The Huskers opened up and early 6-2 lead in the third and the match settled into the teams trading points, once again with the Huskers up two or three.
Penn State tied the set up at nine, but a service error gave the serve and the lead to Nebraska, 10-9. Nebraska quickly pushed the lead to three, 12-9.
At the media timeout, the Husker held a 15-13 lead on a Pollmiller dump-kill. The Huskers extended the lead to four, 19-15, forcing a Penn State timeout.
Out of the timeout, Penn State closed to within two, 20-18, to force Nebraska’s first timeout of the set.
Amber Rolfzen got the kill right out of the timeout, and Kadie followed it up with one of her own to force Penn State’s second timeout down 22-18. The momentum of the Devaney crowd seemed to carry Nebraska through the set with an Amber Rolfzen kill giving Nebraska a set point up 24-19. The Huskers won on their second set point, 25-20.
The most incredible stat for the second set was Annika Albrecht’s 11 digs. She may have single-handedly kept the Huskers right in it.
The Huskers hit .366 for the set, besting the .222 Penn State posted. After three, Alicia Ostrander, Kadie Rolfzen, Amber Rolfzen, and Meghan Haggerty all had eight kills for the Big Red.
The Huskers went down 4-1 early in the third, but closed the margin up to 5-4 Penn State before giving up a couple. The Huskers finally tied it at nine, and took the lead 11-10 for the first time in the set.
Coach Cook was given a yellow care with the score 12-10 Nebraska, and the record 8,585 volleyball fans were livid, and very loud. After trading serves, the score was 13-11.
Penn State tied the score again at 13, but just like the third, Nebraska led at the media timeout 15-13.
Out of the timeout, the Huskers opened up a 17-14 lead and forced Penn State Coach Russ Rose to use his first timeout of the fourth set. Penn State got the first two points out of the timeout, but Nebraska kept the lead until 19-19, when Coach Cook called his first timeout of the set.
Alicia Ostrander and Kadie Rolfzen kills out of the timeout forced Penn State’s second timeout, trailing 21-19 to the Huskers. The Huskers pushed the lead to 23-20 before a Penn State kill, and the deafening Devaney Center crowd forced a PSU service error to give Nebraska their first match point with Sydney Townsend serving.
A Nia Grant kill gave Penn State the serve down two match points. Kadie Rolfzen hit the ball long and the Huskers used their second timeout of the set, still up 24-23. Out of the timeout, Megan Courtney missed her serve to give the set to the Huskers 25-23 and the match 3-1.
On the night, the Huskers outhit the Nittany Lions by the slimmest margin, .196 to .191. Meghan Haggerty had an unbelievable night, hitting .421 with 9 kills on 19 attempts. Kadie Rolfzen led the team in kills with 13, but hit .114.
Justine Wong-Orantes had 13 digs on the night, but Annika Albrecht was the real story with a total of 20 digs, a career high. Amber Rolfzen had 10 digs and added 10 kills to record a double-double for the night.
The teams were dead even with nine blocks apiece, but it’s worth noting that Meghan Haggerty had two solo blocks in that total.
Wow. After giving up the first set 25-12, it looked like you could sound the death knell for the Big Red, but the ladies never gave up and fought for every single point. They showed rare grit and resolve to fight off the defending national champions.
Maybe most impressive was overcoming the early 4-1 deficit in the fourth set. It doesn’t seem like much (especially when the sets go to 25), but the ability to fight back after going down that fast early is something championship teams have to do.
I’m not putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, but this team is showing flashes of being that good. The B1G is an impossibly tough conference, but if the ladies can continue to make opponents change what they do and take advantage, it could be a remarkable season for the Huskers.