The #11 Husker Women’s Volleyball team entered Sunday’s matinee against Maryland on a five-match win streak. They dispatched the Terrapins in four sets, 25-17, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18.
In the first set, although Maryland had a 2-1 lead, but the Huskers took control and gradually opened an eight point lead at the media timeout, 15-7. Nebraska continued to separate the score, taking a 22-13 lead and forcing a Maryland timeout.
The Huskers had their first set point with the score 24-13, but couldn’t close it out and a 4-0 run by Maryland forced Coach John Cook to use his first timeout with the score 24-17 Nebraska. Nebraska won the point out of the timeout, and won the set 25-17.
The Huskers hit .387 for the set to .188 for Maryland. Kelsey Fien had seven kills to hit .417 and Kadie Rolfzen hit .500 with four kills. The Huskers had two aces and two blocks. Maryland had three service errors and three blocks in the first set.
Neither team could open up much of a lead in the early going in set two. In fact, the Huskers took the first two-point lead with the score 8-6 on Sydney Townsend’s serve. Townsend followed that up with an ace and pushed the lead to 9-6.
From that point, the Huskers opened the lead up 15-8 at the media timeout. Maryland cut the lead to six at 17-11 Big Red, but the Huskers scored the next two, and after a Hailey Murray hitting error, the Terrapins took their first timeout of the second set down 19-11.
Maryland took their second timeout with the score 21-12 Nebraska. The Huskers finished off the second set on a Meghan Haggerty solo block and won the set 25-14.
Through two sets, the Huskers were outhitting the Terrapins .328-.092, had outdug the visitors 30-22, and had outblocked Maryland six to five.
Kelsey Fien continued to pace the Huskers with ten kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Kadie Rolfzen had nine kills and was hit .500 through two sets. Kadie also had six digs, trailing only Justine Wong-Orantes’s nine digs.
Maryland got off to a quick start in the third, opening up a 4-1 lead on the Huskers and forcing Coach Cook to use his first timeout of the set early. Nebraska continued to play sloppy after the timeout, and allowed Maryland to maintain and extend that lead, eventually trailing by as much as four before the Huskers forced a sideout.
The Terrapins took control again and opened up an eight-point lead, 13-5 before the Kelsey Fien kill gave the Huskers the point and the serve.
The third set continued to be rife with Husker errors, and the Terrapins had a 17-8 lead on hitting errors and poor Husker execution. An Amber Rolfzen kill and an assisted block by Kadie Rolfzen and Cecilia Hall closed the lead to 17-10 Maryland and led to Maryland’s first timeout of the set.
The Huskers began to close the gap thanks to aggressive serving by Sydney Townsend, who recorded yet another ace for the Huskers. However, after closing the gap to five, the Huskers lost the serve, and Maryland opened the lead to eight again, 22-14 and forced Coach Cook’s second, and final, timeout of the set.
The Terrapins kept pouring it on out of the Husker timeout, taking a 23-14 lead and leading to Alicia Ostrander being inserted for Kadie Rolfzen in the front row. The Huskers put together a run with Ostrander in, but Maryland ultimately took the set 25-18.
Maryland outhit Nebraska .423 to .062 in the third set. Statistically through three, the Huskers were leading in every category except for blocks which had both teams with eight apiece.
The third set seemed characterized by miscommunication and sloppy play by the Big Red. There was a feeling of complacency on the Husker side of the net, and it allowed Maryland to capitalize and win a set in an environment that’s usually tough for visitors.
The Huskers started strong in set four, opening a quick 3-0 lead before a Kelsey Fien hitting error.
The Huskers took advantage of poor serving by the Terrapins to hold on to and extend the lead in the fourth, extending it to 9-4 before a run on Ashlyn MacGregor’s serve closed it to 9-8 Nebraska and led to Coach Cook using his first timeout.
Nebraska ran off three quick points, including an Ethridge ace, out of the timeout and opened up a 12-8 lead before a double-hit call on Sydney Thompson stopped the Husker run. Kelsey Fien stopped any hope of a Terrapin run with a kill to make the score 13-10 Nebraska.
The Huskers maintained the three point advantage, and forced a Maryland timeout with a 15-12 Nebraska lead.
The Huskers opened the lead up to 19-15 on a Kadie Rolfzen kill, and Maryland used their second and final timeout of the fourth set.
The Huskers opened the lead up out of the timeout and it never got close again. Ultimately, the Huskers won the set 25-18 and took the match 3-1.
The Huskers led in every statistical category for the match. The Huskers hit .277 for the match against .187 for the Terrapins. Nebraska had twelve blocks to eight for Maryland and five service aces to three for Maryland.
Kadie Rolfzen recorded a double-double again on the night with 15 kills (.355) and 10 digs. Kelsey Fien led the way with 18 kills for the afternoon. Justine Wong-Orantes (15) and Sydney Townsend (11) also had double digit digs for the Huskers.
The five Husker aces were split between two servers, Alexa Ethridge with two, and Sydney Townsend with three. Both players are back row specialists, with Ethridge serving in place of a middle, but ultimately being replaced by Wong-Orantes in the back row for defense. Townsend, however, has seen ever increasing playing time in lieu of Amber Rolfzen in the back row. Ethridge’s serve has been addressed here, but Townsend brings and incredible ability to place her serve, which is basically the only reason she scored so many aces on the day.
The Huskers have now strung together a six-match winning streak that has included some impressive wins most notably the sweep of Purdue. The Huskers have, by and large, played very well in those matches. As Coach Cook put it after the match, complacency comes calling every so often, and we saw that in the third set tonight. It was almost as though the Huskers expected the Terrapins to hand them the third set, and that simply wasn’t about to happen.
The Huskers play at Indiana, a team they swept on November 6th, Wednesday at 6:00 CST, and then welcome Michigan, a team they were swept by on October 12th, to Lincoln next Saturday at 7:00 CST. A good showing against the Wolverines would go a long way to building confidence going in to the end of the season against Illinois and Penn State, and through the beginning of the post-season. Both matches will be broadcast on BTN Plus.