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#3 Nebraska Volleyball Drops Second in Two Days to #16 Wisconsin

After falling in four to #9 Minnesota on Friday night, the Husker Volleyball team fell again, and again in four, to #16 Wisconsin on Saturday night in Lincoln.

The night after falling in four sets to the #9 Minnesota Golden Gophers, the #3 Nebraska Huskers Volleyball team welcomed the #16 Wisconsin Badgers to the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Nebraska fell 3-1 (25-22, 17-25, 19-25, 22-25).

The first set started off tight, but Wisconsin ran off five straight points, helped largely by Nebraska hitting errors, to force a Husker timeout with the Badgers leading 8-5.

An Amber Rolfzen kill right out of the timeout gave the serve briefly to the Huskers, but then the teams traded sideouts before the Huskers took control on Annika Albrecht's serve to take their first lead with the score 14-13.

The Huskers opened up a three point lead of their own at 16-13 which led to Wisconsin using their first timeout of the set.

Things stayed the same out of the timeout, with Albrecht staying on the service line, and an emphatic solo block by Kadie Rolfzen leading quickly to Wisconsin's second timeout of the set quickly, with the score 18-13 Huskers.

Wisconsin notched a couple of quick points out of the timeout, but a Mikaela Foecke kill made the score 19-15 Nebraska.

The teams traded points for awhile, until Wisconsin strung together three in a row and made the score 21-19 and resulted in Coach Cook using the second Nebraska timeout of the set.

Wisconsin closed to within 1, 22-21, but Nebraska then opened it up to 24-21 for their first set point. Kelly Hunter served the ball long, but a Kadie Rolfzen tip, a ball that was challenged by Wisconsin Coach Kelly Sheffield, ended the set for the Huskers 25-22.

Compared to Friday night, attacking the first set was rather pedestrian. The Huskers hit .205 to Wisconsin's .175. Foecke led all Husker hitters with five kills on eleven attempts and one error to hit .364. Kadie Rolfzen added five kills to hit .214.

Neither team opened up an advantage in the second set until the Badgers took a 5-3 lead on the Huskers. Wisconsin extended the lead to 7-3 which resulted in Nebraska's first timeout of the set.

A nasty fall on an attack by Kadie Rolfzen resulted in an injury to Cecilia Hall and saw Alicia Ostrander inserted at middle blocker, a position she played at Gordon-Rushville in high school.

Wisconsin worked the lead to five points just after the Hall injury. The Husker offense was not terribly effective in the time after the injury and the block became nearly non-existent. Wisconsin opened the lead to 17-10 in front of what was a subdued Devaney crowd, and Coach Cook used the final Nebraska timeout of the set.

Ostrander's first kill to make the score 17-12 Wisconsin brought a roar from the crowd, but the enthusiasm was short-lived as Wisconsin took the serve and opened up a seven point lead once again.

Wisconsin led 24-16 with their first set point. Foecke earned yet another kill, but her subsequent served floated long and gave Wisconsin the set 25-17.

Nebraska hit .158 in the second set with Kadie Rolfzen adding five kills to lead the way for the Big Red, pushing her total to ten for the match. Wisconsin hit .429 in the second set.

The Husker defense and block looked much more out of sync in the second, especially after Hall went down and the pace of the match slowed.

Cecilia Hall returned in the third set with a sleeve under the knee pad on her right knee. Kelly Hunter started the set with her third serve long.

Alicia Ostrander, playing for Kelsey Fien, scored the first Husker point of the set from the right side.

Wisconsin opened up a lead early and continued to extend it, making it four points at 9-5. Although the teams exchanged points for quite awhile, Wisconsin effectively maintained the four-point advantage until a Foecke kill narrowed the gap to 12-10 Badgers.

A Hunter-Amber Rolfzen block made the score 13-12 in Wisconsin's favor and once again brought the Devaney crowd to its feet. A Wisconsin attack that sailed wide tied the set at 13.

The media timeout came with the Huskers trailing 15-14 after an Ostrander attack was blocked.

The Badgers pushed the advantage to two out of the timeout with the Huskers offense once again going cold. The Huskers took their first timeout of the set trailing 17-14.

After a Husker block fell out of bounds, an Ostrander kill gave the serve back to Kelly Hunter with the score 18-15 in Wisconsin's favor.

The Huskers struggled to bring the score any closer, with nearly every Husker hitter either getting blocked, or hitting in to the net. It seemed, late in the set, that the Huskers were trying anything and everything to earn the point, and balls simply weren't falling their way.

After a tip by Kadie Rolfzen fell out of bounds short and an Amber Rolfzen swing sailed deep, the Huskers used their second timeout trailing 22-17.

Wisconsin's first set point came with the score 24-18. While Nebraska won that point and sent Foecke to the service line, Wisconsin won the subsequent point and the set, 25-19.

Nebraska's offense looked paltry at best in the third set, with Hunter and her hitters not connecting well. Sets often looked lower than the hitters were accustomed to and resulted in the hitters putting balls in the net, the block, or far out of bounds. Nebraska hit .043 for the set.

The offense woke up at the beginning of set four, with decisive kills by Foecke and Amber Rolfzen setting an early, aggressive tone for the home team. The eighth rally of the set was punctuated by Foecke's third kills of the set, but the highlight may well have been Wong-Orantes' dig of Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini's dump, which had regularly found the floor. The score was 5-3 Nebraska.

A 3-0 run allowed Wisconsin to retake the lead, 6-5. With the teams trading points, it was essentially tied, but a two-point Nebraska run flipped the advantage in the Huskers' favor at 11-10.

Wisconsin answered with two straight of their own and took the advantage back 12-11. However, with Wong-Orantes serving, the Huskers flipped the script again, 13-12.

At the media timeout, the Huskers held a 15-13 lead after a Hunter-Amber Rolfzen block.

The Huskers pushed the lead to three out of the timeout, but three straight points on Carlini's serve, which included two Husker hitting errors and a Carlini ace, tied the score for Wisconsin resulted in a Husker timeout.

Although the Huskers stopped the run out of the timeout, Wisconsin then earned two more points, and took the 18-17 lead over Nebraska. A Wisconsin block of a Kelsey Fien attack led to Ostrander being inserted for Fien, who had started the set.

Wisconsin kept the pressure on and opened the lead up to 22-19, forcing the final Husker timeout of the fourth set.

Although the crowd came to its feet after the timeout, accentuated by the Ostrander kill, Wisconsin seemed ready to seal the set and the win, but a Badger hitting error and a Wong-Orantes ace allowed the Huskers to close the gap to 22-23 and force Wisconsin to take their first timeout of the fourth set.

Wong-Orantes' serve after the timeout found the net and gave Wisconsin the match point, which they capitalized on with a quick kill to take the set 25-22, and the match 3-1.

Nebraska had more kills on more attempts than Wisconsin, 58 on 173 for the Huskers to 55 on 150 for the Badgers, but Nebraska doubled Wisconsin's errors, with 35 for the Huskers against 17 for the Badgers. Wisconsin outhit Nebraska .253-.133.

Mikaela Foecke led all Huskers with 15 kills on the night, but nine errors resulted in her hitting only .125. Kadie Rolfzen had 13 kills with five errors to hit .205. Amber Rolfzen had the highest percentage for the Huskers with .217.

Justine Wong-Orantes had another ridiculous night with 28 digs. As a team, the Huskers had 66 digs, but the only Husker joining Wong-Orantes with double-digit kills was Kelly Hunter, who had 10. Wisconsin also had 66 digs on the night, with three Badgers in double-digits.

Ghosts of Husker Volleyball past seemed to haunt the Huskers tonight, with blocking and serving seeming to fail the Huskers at key moments. Wisconsin had 15 blocks for night while Nebraska only had eight. Kelly Hunter led the way for the Big Red blockers with two total blocks, one solo and one assisted, while Amber Rolfzen and Cecilia Hall each had three assisted blocks.

The Huskers and the Badgers were nearly matched in every other statistical category with both teams recording 53 assists, and their primary setter, Carlini for Wisconsin and Hunter for Nebraska, recording 49 apiece. Both teams had six service errors as well. The deciding factor for the night was the attack errors committed by the Huskers.

The biggest concern raised for the night, however, was not one of ability, this team can play with any team in the country skill-wise, but rather a seeming lack of leadership. After Hall was briefly sidelined, it seemed that the team lacked direction or the strength to overcome the loss. Even though Hall returned and played well, the team really wasn't the same.

The B1G is good, and weekends like this are commonplace. There's a reason that seven of the last ten NCAA championships are held by teams in the conference. It can make for a rough weekend for your favorite team, but B1G teams also go in to the tournament battle-tested.

Next weekend Rutgers and Maryland come to the Bob Devaney Sports Center with Rutgers in town on Friday, and Maryland Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for a 7:00 CDT start time, and both will be carried by NET, and BTNPlus.