The Nebraska Huskers Women's Volleyball team opened the season with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-14, 25-16) win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the Nebraska Invitational Tournament.
The Huskers started Freshman at the setter's opposite position, with Kenzie Maloney playing back row, and Mikaela Foecke playing front row right side. Other notable changes were Amber Rolfzen moving to middle blocker from right side, and Annika Albrecht starting at outside hitter opposite Kadie Rolfzen.
The match started sloppily for both sides, with errors and free balls leading to a 7-4 Tulsa lead early. It took till 11-11 for the Huskers to tie the match, and 13-12 before the Huskers took their first lead. A Cecilia Hall-Kelly Hunter block made the score 14-12 Big Red, and forced the first Tulsa timeout.
With Hall continued the block party, and Kadie Rolfzen challenged the Golden Hurricane with her serve, and the Huskers opened up a 19-15 lead. Nebraska held that lead, and Tulsa Head Coach Ryan Wills used his second timeout of the set trailing 21-17.
Tulsa scored the first two points out of the timeout, and Coach Cook called a timeout with a 21-19 lead. Tulsa continued to fight, closing it to a one-point margin with Nebraska leading 22-21, but service errors doomed the Hurricane, and a Cecilia Hall kill gave Nebraska a 25-22 win.
Nebraska hit .136 in set one, with Kadie Rolfzen and Annika Albrecht leading the way with four kills apiece. Justine Wong-Orantes had six digs, and Annika Albrecht had five to lead the Huskers, who outdug the Golden Hurricane 22-14.
Set two started off better for the Huskers, with a Sydney Townsend getting the second ace of the night for the Big Red and opening a 4-1 lead. Nebraska opened the lead to 6-2 and forced an early Tulsa timeout.
Mikaela Foecke tooled the block out of the timeout and extended the Nebraska lead. The lead grew to 11-6 Nebraska, but Tulsa put together two very good points to close it to 11-8. That run was quickly extinguished by an Annika Albrecht kill.
On Albrecht's serve, the Huskers opened the lead to 15-9. The teams traded points, and Tulsa used their second timeout of the set with the score 17-11 Nebraska.
Nebraska continued to increase the margin and was up 24-11 at their first set point. An Amber Rolfzen tip gave the Huskers the win 25-14.
Through two sets, the Huskers were leading the Golden Hurricane in every statistical category notably outhitting them .222-.094, outdigging 35-25, outblocking 5-2.
Set three started with Meghan Haggerty playing middle for Hall. Hall had hit .091 through the first two sets, but led the team with 3 block assists.
Nebraska relied heavily on the slide attack early in set three with both Haggerty and Amber Rolfzen sliding out to hit behind Kelly Hunter while she was in the front row.
Tulsa opened up a 5-3 lead early in the set and held a lead until the Huskers took their first lead at 10-9. Nebraska opened the lead to 14-11 and forced Tulsa's first timeout of the set.
The Huskers opened an even greater advantage after the timeout, and force Tulsa's second timeout up 19-12 off a Mikaela Foecke kill.
Things kept getting better for the Huskers who won the first point out of the timeout, and eventually won the set 25-16 on a Meghan Haggerty kill.
The Huskers had 45 kills to hit .282 to 30 for the Golden Hurricane who hit .134. The Huskers had 49 digs to 36 for Tulsa. Nebraska had only four service errors to eight for Tulsa. Blocking looked great for the Huskers as well, with seven blocks to Tulsa's two.
Annika Albrecht started her season with a double-double, recording 10 kills and 11 digs, hitting .292 after a rough start. Freshman Mikaela Foecke hit .375 with eight kills and two errors on sixteen attempts. Amber Rolfzen hit .375, and Kadie Rolfzen hit .292.
An interesting subplot was former Husker Megan Pendergast's return to Lincoln tonight. Megan saw limited action in two years as a Husker before finishing her playing career at Texas A&M. She now serves as the assistant coach for Tulsa.
The first set had a sloppy start, but things cleaned up for the Huskers as the match went on. One very bright point was Sophomore Kelly Hunter at setter. While a couple of her early decisions screamed inexperience, she settled in very quickly. Her sets were precise, and she showed great acumen as a blocker and was sneaky with a couple of attacks as well.
There wasn't a whole lot tonight that gives Husker fans reason for concern. Although some players looked jittery early, everyone settled in nicely, and handily beat a team that went 22-9 last season. The matches over the next couple of days here at Devaney will give us even more to go on.
The Huskers play Grand Canyon University Saturday, August 29 at noon and play the University of Pittsburgh on Saturday at 7:00 pm as part of the Nebraska Invitational. All matches will be held at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.