After a thrilling, and SportsCenter-worthy, win over #12 Purdue on Wednesday, the Husker Women welcomed the Indiana Hoosiers to the Bob Devaney Sports Center for a white-out. Nebraska quickly dispatched the visitors, sweeping Indiana 25-14, 25-17, 25-12
The Huskers opened up with a 3-0 lead and never really looked back. Indiana called their first timeout with the score 13-7 Huskers.
It only got worse from there for Indiana, as the Husker lead extended, and the Hoosiers took their second timeout down 20-10. Nothing changed out of the timeout, and the Huskers won the set 25-14.
The Huskers hit .833 for the first set. That’s fifteen kills on eighteen attempts with no errors. Kelsey Fien paced the Huskers with five kills on six attempts to hit .833. Four Huskers, Kadie Rolfzen, Mary Pollmiller, Meghan Haggerty and Annika Albrecht all hit 1.000 for the first set.
Set two started off tight, with Indiana actually taking an early 2-1 lead. The Huskers had their first hitting error of the night that lead to Indiana’s second point when Cecilia Hall was blocked.
Nebraska opened the lead to 5-2, but Indiana fought back and took the lead 7-5 on three errant Nebraska attacks, forcing Coach Cook to use his first timeout of the match.
Nebraska scored four points out of the timeout before an Indiana kill stopped the Husker run with the score 9-8 Huskers. Husker miscues kept the Hoosiers in it for awhile, but eventually the Huskers opened up a 14-10 lead and forced Indiana’s first timeout of the second set.
Indiana called their second and final timeout trailing 21-16. The Huskers only allowed one more point, and took the second set 25-17.
Hitting errors by the Big Red brought the Huskers’ hitting stats into a more pedestrian range, however the Huskers were still hitting .468 thru two, with 28 kills on 47 attempts with six errors. Kelsey Fien was still leading the way with nine kills on fifteen attempts and one error. Indiana was hitting -.019 through two sets, with 17 kills, 18 errors and 54 attempts.
The glaring problem on the stat sheet was the seven service errors through two sets. Indiana only had four, and had an ace to go along with it. However, Nebraska led in every other statistical category.
Mary Pollmiller started the third set with an ace, and the Huskers opened up a 4-0 lead when Indiana called their first timeout of the third set.
Pollmiller missed her serve out of the timeout, but Amber Rolfzen terminated the point straight away and the Huskers extended the lead.
An Annika Albrecht ace pushed the score to 15-8 Nebraska and forced Indiana’s final timeout of the set.
Annika bookended the timeout with another ace, and Indiana’s mistakes continued to add up. Sydney Townsend recorded an ace that pushed the lead to 19-10 Huskers.
Alicia Ostrander was inserted to serve for Kadie Rolfzen to the rousing approval of the Devaney crowd. Alicia lost her outside hitter spot to Kelsey Fien during the Minnesota match, but has never lost the love of the Husker faithful. She was left in to serve-receive and play defense as well, as the Huskers held a 22-12 lead.
Melanie Keil played middle in lieu of Cecilia Hall with the Huskers leading 23-12. The Huskers easily won the set 25-12. The Huskers hit .714 for the set.
The Huskers finished the match with a .525 hitting percentage. The Huskers committed no hitting errors in either the first or third set, hitting over .700 in each of them.
Kelsey Fien, Amber Rolfzen, Mary Pollmiller, and Annika Albrecht all hit over .500 for the match, though Albrecht only had one attempt. Fien was the only hitter in the match with double figure kills, recording 11.
Indiana struggled to hit anywhere near the court or the Husker block. The Hoosiers hit -.013 for the night with one more error than they had kills. The often sailed the ball over the top of the Husker block and out of bounds, so the Husker blocking numbers were way down from the other night against Purdue, with the Huskers only recording five blocks as a team.
Mary Pollmiller has been an offense weapon in each of the last two matches, with seven kills tonight on nine attempts. Against Purdue she had five kills on eleven attempts. While it’s a nice change of pace, and she still had 24 assists for the night, the setter’s first instinct should not be to dump. It should be to set. It will be interesting on Wednesday to see if she continues, or if the offense looks more conventional.
While Indiana is not near the top of the conference, they’re 5-8 in conference play, the fact that this didn’t even resemble a let down was a great sign for the rest of the Husker season. There are still kinks to be worked out, like the errors in the middle part of the second set, but there are a lot of things that this team has improved on, and reason for cautious optimism going forward. Haggerty and Hall are showing that they have what it takes to compete as a middle in the B1G, and Fien has been nothing short of phenomenal. There’s not a lot of volleyball left in the regular season, but with a landscape that is less certain than we’re accustomed to, the Huskers are peaking at the right time.