On Wednesday night, the Husker Women's Volleyball team took on the Indiana Hoosiers at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers came out victorious, 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-19)
The first set started off with the teams trading points and keeping the score within one until an ace Awele Nwaeze gave Indiana a two-point advantage. A subsequent kill Hoosier point to end a long rally led to the first Nebraska timeout of the set down 7-4.
Out of the timeout the Huskers closed the gap to 7-6 Hoosiers, but an Indiana sideout ended the Amber Rolfzen service run.
The Huskers tied the score at nine, and then took the lead at 10-9 off a Cecilia Hall-Mikaela Foecke block. An Annika Albrecht serve dropped short for an ace and gave Nebraska the 11-9 lead and resulted in Indiana's first timeout of the set.
The Huskers continued to outscore the Hoosiers, and opened up the lead to 14-10. The Hoosiers closed to within two again at 14-12, but never again got closer as the Huskers ultimately won the set 25-16.
The Huskers hit .364 in the first set led by Foecke's .571 with four kills and no errors. Kadie Rolfzen had five kills and two errors to hit .273.
The Huskers had three aces in set one and only one error on their serve. Both teams recorded three blocks and fourteen digs.
Nebraska opened up an early 3-1 lead on Indiana, but the Hoosiers tied the score up at five. The Huskers then opened up a 9-6 lead.
Indiana fought back and tied the score at 12. Nebraska opened the lead back up to 14-12 and an apparent Kenzie Maloney pancake was ruled down by the officials. Coach Cook challenged the call, but video replay confirmed the officials' ruling, and Indiana served with the score 14-13. An Amber Rolfzen kill made the score 15-13 Nebraska at the media timeout.
The score stayed tight out of the media timeout, with Nebraska not extending the lead beyond two points until it was 19-16 and Indiana used their first timeout of the set.
The Huskers kept control of the set out of the timeout and opened the lead to 22-18 which led to the second, and final, Hoosier timeout of the set. The Huskers kept momentum and control out of the timeout and took the set 25-19.
Both teams had improved hitting numbers in the second set, with Mikaela Foecke continuing to be error free and adding five kills to her total, bringing her to nine kills on thirteen attempts with no errors. Foecke hit .692 through two sets.
The Huskers only recorded only one more block in the second set, while Indiana had none. Nebraska added four service aces, two from Kenzie Maloney who was playing for Justine Wong-Orantes, to bring the total to seven through two sets.
Indiana took the first point of the third set, but Nebraska held the lead at 5-3. Indiana closed the margin to one, but then a three-point Husker run on Kadie Rolfzen's serve made the score 8-4 Huskers and led to the first Indiana timeout of the set.
Out of the timeout, the teams traded points, with Indiana not closing the gap, nor Nebraska extending it, until a Kadie Rolfzen-Cecilia Hall block made the score 13-8 Nebraska and Indiana used their second and final timeout of the set.
Nebraska maintained the lead until Indiana's Allison Hammond got back on the service line. Nebraska struggled to pass the Hammond serve, and that allowed the Hoosiers to close the score to 16-14 Huskers which led to the first Nebraska timeout of the set.
Nebraska went on a 6-1 run out of the timeout to take a 22-15 lead, and while Indiana narrowed the gap slightly, the outcome of the set was never in doubt, and the Huskers won 25-19.
Kadie Rolfzen recorded yet another double-double with eleven kills and fourteen digs on the night and hit .360. Foecke was the only other Husker with double-digit kills with thirteen to hit .455.
The defense for the Huskers had 44 digs on the night, led by Kadie Rolfzen's fourteen. Annika Albrecht added ten digs. Nebraska had eight total blocks for the night, led by Hall's six assisted blocks and one solo block.
Kenzie Maloney played Libero again, as Justine Wong-Orantes sat her second match with a knee injury sustained against Michigan State. While she seemed timid early in the match, Maloney seemed to get more comfortable as the night wore on and played good defense for the Huskers. Coach Cook said that they expect Wong-Orantes to practice on Thursday and are continuing to evaluate the injury.
Coach Cook also mentioned that the Hoosiers played much better on the night than they had in the match-up in Bloomington ten days ago. The Huskers adjusted nicely to the new looks that Indiana showed, which allowed the team to open the lead up as the sets wore on.
Mikaela Foecke had another incredible hitting night. Through two sets, the Indiana block and defense had no answer. After the match, Foecke mentioned that in matches like tonight, where she hits above .400, she drives on the ball and is not timid, something that she's been in matches this season where she hasn't played well.
The team carries a seven match win streak in to Ann Arbor on Saturday, where they take on a Michigan team that upset #4 Penn State in State College on Wednesday 3-1. Both Michigan and Nebraska are riding great momentum into the match, so this should be a great barometer for where the Huskers are as the tournament approaches.
Even if Wong-Orantes cannot return for the Michigan match, the rest of the Husker team has shown they can fill the roles where necessary. While Wong-Orantes' court sense, volleyball IQ, and leadership will be necessary for the tournament, these matches are an opportunity for others to show they can lead and guide this team through adversity.
If other players can step up, it will set the Huskers up in a great position to make a deep run to Omaha. There's no doubt this is one of the most talented teams in the country, but they have to play at their very highest level to still be playing on December 17th and 19th.