On Wednesday night, the #13 Huskers welcomed the #12 Purdue Boilermakers into the Bob Devaney Sports Center for a B1G showdown. The Huskers showed hustle, fight, and heart and recorded the sweep, 25-21, 25-22, 25-20.
The first set started with the teams trading points, neither team opening more than a one-point lead until a blocking error gave Purdue the 12-10 lead. However, the Huskers immediately put Justine Wong-Orantes on the service line with a Purdue service error.
On a Haggerty kill, a Pollmiller kill, and a Purdue hitting error, the Huskers turned it around and took a 14-13 lead, but the run was halted by a service error.
The Huskers had a 15-14 lead at the media timeout, and extended the advantage to 17-14 forcing Purdue Head Coach Dave Shondell to use his first timeout of the set.
The Huskers opened the lead up to 21-15 after the first timeout, and the Boilermakers used their second, and final, timeout of the set.
The Boilermakers closed the gap out of that timeout on Husker hitting and defensive errors, and Nebraska Coach John Cook took his first timeout of the set with the score 22-18 Huskers.
The teams traded points straight out of the timeout, and a Purdue serve in the net gave the Huskers their first set point with the score 24-19. Purdue kept the match alive with a kill giving Nebraska their second set point, then a block made the score 24-21 Huskers, but a Kadie Rolfzen kill ended the set for the Huskers, 25-21.
Two Huskers, Pollmiller and Haggerty, were hitting 1.000 after one set. Pollmiller had three kills while Haggerty had two in addition to her one solo and three assisted blocks.
The Huskers outhit the Boilermakers .357-.188, outblocked them 5-1, and outdug the visitors 11-8. The only mark against the Huskers was two service errors, but Purdue had twice that many, so again, point Huskers.
Set two started off similarly to the first, with the teams exchanging sideouts and keeping the score tight. Purdue opened up a 5-3 lead, but the Huskers stormed back with a beautiful ball down the line by Haggerty, and a huge solo stuff block by Kadie Rolfzen.
Off a block by Pollmiller and Haggerty, and another Kadie Rolfzen solo block, the Huskers opened the lead up to 7-5 before serving the ball into the net.
The Huskers kept the wall up, and two more stuff blocks pushed the lead to 9-6 Huskers and forced a Purdue timeout.
A well-placed shot by Purdue, a Husker attack hit wide, and a tipped ball brought the Boilermakers back to a tie at nine, but Kadie Rolfzen ended the run and gave the Huskers the lead again, 10-9.
The score stayed tight until Purdue took the lead at 17-16 and Coach Cook took the first Husker timeout of the second set.
The Huskers took the next three points, getting a 19-17 lead and forcing Purdue to use their second timeout of the set.
A net violation on the Huskers, and a missed roll shot by the Huskers tied the score up at 19, but the Huskers took the lead again on a Kelsey Fien kill.
The Huskers opened up a two-point lead at 22-20, and never let Purdue back in, winning the set 25-22.
The Huskers outhit the Boilermakers in the second set .146-.000. Kadie Rolfzen was leading the way for the hitters, hitting .385 through two sets with six kills. Kelsey Fien had nine kills through two and was hitting .227.
The Big Red Machine had an unbelievable twelve blocks through two sets against just four for Purdue. Neither team had recorded a service ace in the first two sets.
The teams exchanged sideouts in the early part of the third set until Purdue took a two-point lead at 7-5, however a Purdue net violation and a solo block by Kelsey Fien tied the score again at seven.
The Huskers went on a run and opened up a three-point lead that was highlighted by the first ace of the match by Alexa Ethridge. The Boilermakers used their first timeout with the score 11-8 Nebraska.
The Huskers continued to pour it on after the timeout. The Boilermakers continued to struggle with Ethridge’s serve and the Huskers pushed the lead to 13-8 before Purdue stopped the run.
Purdue strung together a run of three points to force Coach Cook to use the first Nebraska timeout of the set with the 13-11 lead.
The Huskers stopped the Boilermaker run at 14-13 with a remarkable play. The serve dribbled over the net, and Kelsey Fien wasn’t watching. The ball fell off her head, but the scrappy Huskers kept it alive with a Kadie Rolfzen kick and ultimately won the point on a block. Here’s the Husker Volleyball tweet with the video:
You HAVE to watch this one again! http://t.co/AaLWn5XQPg— Husker Volleyball (@Huskervball) November 6, 2014
The Huskers opened the lead to three points, 18-15 and while they traded points with Purdue, never let them back in it in a meaningful way. Purdue used their final timeout of the set trailing 22-18 to the Huskers, but it didn’t change momentum. The Huskers finished the match off with a 25-20 win.
For the match, the Huskers hit .255 to .098 for Purdue. Nebraska had a phenomenal 17 blocks to Purdue’s 6. Meghan Haggerty had an unbelievable night with 10 block assists and one solo block.
Kelsey Fien led all Husker attackers with 15 kills on 36 attempts. She had only five errors and hit .278 on the night.
The teams ended the night tied in digs with 36 apiece.
This looked like the team that many fans had been hoping to see this year. There were many points that looked as though the ball should hit the floor, or would have at other points this season, but the team kept it alive. More than once, it seemed like the Huskers were winning the war of attrition with the Boilermakers and that bodes well the rest of the way.
Kelsey Fien has proven herself in the latter part of this season. She has not only thumped the ball, but she has hit smart when it’s required of her and blocked well on many occasions.
More than once this season, we’ve had reason to hope about this team, but this is the most complete match they’ve played. Penn State was nice, Texas was good, but this Purdue match looked like the kind of volleyball we’d like to see out of the girls the rest of the way.