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Husker Volleyball Beats the Creighton Bluejays at Devaney

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The Huskers welcomed their neighbors from Omaha to Devaney in front of 8,060 people and sent the Jays home with a 3-1 defeat.

David McGee

Wednesday night saw cross?-state rival Creighton visit the Devaney Center. The Bluejays actually opened up an early 6-3 lead in a PACKED house, but the Huskers quickly fought back to within one, and that’s where it stayed for a good bit of the first set.

At the TV timeout it was 15-14 Creighton with flashes of brilliance from the Huskers (Kadie Rolfzen’s stuff block) offset by big mistakes (bombing the ball out of bounds).

Bluejay Head Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth called the first timeout of the match when a Bluejay attacking error pulled the Huskers to a 19-19 tie. Creighton reeled off the next two points before a decisive kill by Kadie Rolfzen put Justine Wong-Orantes on the service line.

The Bluejays got the ball right back, and then forced a Husker timeout with the Big Red down 20-23. A serving error followed by a hitting error gave the first set to Creighton 21-25 with Nebraska only holding an early lead. It’s the first time since 2006 that Creighton has taken a set from the Huskers.

For the set the Huskers hit .000, had four blocks and eleven digs, but too many errors. Kelsey Fien was the only Husker with a positive hitting percentage, hitting .125.

Kelsey Fien started the second set with a kill and gave the Huskers their first lead of the night, but it was short lived as the Bluejays then took a 3-2 lead. However, Nebraska got the next five to take a 7-3 forcing a Jays timeout.

The Huskers kept the pressure on out of the timeout with a Haggerty block and a J-Wo ace to push the lead to 9-3. A hitting error by the Huskers ended their run, but they’d pushed the lead to seven by then at 11-4.

Nebraska called a timeout with the Jays closing the gap to 15-10, but it did little to slow the Jays’ momentum. They closed to within three before a Kadie Rolfzen kill stemmed the tide. The Jays got the ball right back and closed the score to 18-17 Nebraska, forcing Coach Cook to use his second timeout.

The Huskers forced Booth to call Creighton’s second timeout off of a Mary Pollmiller kill that pushed the lead to 20-17 Nebraska.

The Huskers finished off the set 25-22 with a Mary Pollmiller ace after the Jays made it close at 23-22.

The Huskers hit .200 in the second set. Kadie Rolfzen led all Husker attackers with nine kills through two sets. The team only added two more blocks, but they were both solo blocks by Meghan Haggerty.

The Huskers started set three strong when Mary Pollmiller’s serve ultimately forced a swing into the net for Creighton. The Bluejays’ hitting continued to struggle early, and allowed the Huskers to open a 7-1 lead and forcing a Creighton timeout.

The Bluejays chipped their way back into the match, tying it at 11 and forcing a Nebraska timeout.

After the timeout, Nebraska opened up a lead again off a solo block and kill by Alicia Ostrander (inserted for Kelsey Fien). Nebraska kept the pressure on Creighton and eventually forced the Jays to take a timeout with the score 19-13 Nebraska. It never really got close after that, and the Huskers won the set 25-20.

The Huskers’ hitting improved again as the team hit .222 for the set. Alicia Ostrander contributed three kills on eight swings. Kadie Rolfzen continued to lead the way, recording 12 kills through three sets.

Set three started with a quick lead for the Huskers, but the Jays answered nearly as quickly, taking the lead at 4-3. The Huskers, however, quickly turned it around and opened up a 6-4 lead. The Huskers opened it up to as much as three, but Creighton continued to hang around.

Creighton took their first timeout of the fourth set trailing 13-9 to the Huskers. A run where both teams traded sideouts led to Coach Cook using his first timeout with the score 16-12 Nebraska.

The set stayed about that close, and Creighton called timeout with the score 20-15 Nebraska. The Jays hung around and closed the gap to 23-20 Nebraska and the Huskers took their second timeout of the set. The Huskers took the two points out of the timeout and finished off the Jays 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20).

The Huskers actually hit an abysmal .098 in the fourth set, but it bested Creighton’s .045. For the match the Huskers hit .134 to Creighton’s .126. That’s a number that has to improve, and quickly. Alicia Ostrander actually led with a hitting percentage of .353, but Kadie Rolfzen led with 16 kills. She added 10 digs to record a double-double for the night.

That aside, the Huskers controlled their errors well, only committing four service errors on the night. The team had 59 digs on the night, compared with 54 for Creighton. Justine Wong-Orantes led the way with 18.

The team had 14 total blocks, five of them solo. Meghan Haggerty and Alicia Ostrander each had two solo blocks, and everyone who played front row had a part of a block.

This was a GREAT win for the ladies. Creighton has top 25 credentials, and being able to win three after giving up the first is important to building mental fortitude for a tough B1G season.

The Huskers did a better job of closing their blocks and stayed more disciplined than they have been thus far. The team still needs a solid leader in the clutch, but I can see more girls who are willing to step up. Alicia Ostrander played well in a tough spot tonight.

A fun fact: Husker Volleyball Bench live tweets the games. I don’t know yet who does it, but it’s kind of fun to follow during the games. Here’s the tweet posted to the account after the match tonight.

The team is getting better. The talent is undeniable. As the little pieces fall in to place, this team gives us a lot to look forward to.

#GBR