The Nebraska Huskers Volleyball Team spent Labor Day weekend in Austin, Texas, playing in the VERT Challenge, a four-year agreement between #4 Nebraska, #3 Texas, #11 Oregon, and #4 Florida.
This was the first season of the VERT Challenge, and the Huskers lost a five-set match to Texas on Friday night (17-25, 25-21, 15-25, 25-23, 11-15), but came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Oregon on Saturday, 3-2 (21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-12)
Amber Rolfzen didn't dress for the tournament in Austin, and Coach Cook confirmed afterwards that it was not disciplinary, and she is expected to available for this weekend in the Ameritas Challenge at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
What was most remarkable about the weekend wasn't the outcomes, all four teams were highly-ranked going in to the weekend, and remain so in this week's poll, but the fact that both of the starting outside hitters struggled throughout the weekend. Annika Albrecht was taken out of the front row in favor of Kelsey Fien against Texas, and Kadie Rolfzen was replaced with Olivia Boender against Oregon.
The Huskers and Longhorns traded sets on Friday night with Texas winning the first and third set, and the Huskers taking sets two and four. The deciding set was close, but ultimately Texas took control late and won it 15-11.
The story of the match was told by the Huskers' hitting numbers, the Huskers hit -.042, .414, .031, .250, .160. Nebraska won the sets when hitting above .200, and essentially handed the sets to Texas when hitting below .200.
The hitting percentages were much tighter in the Oregon match, with the most remarkable set being the third, when Nebraska hit .586, and Oregon hitting .452. For the match, the Huskers outhit the Ducks .352-.294.
The weekend showed us that the Huskers have a lot of the tools in place to compete in the B1G this season, but the fact that we have the Ameritas Challenge coming up this weekend at Devaney is very good news. The B1G is the best conference in the country in volleyball, and having Amber Rolfzen back next weekend should give the players a chance to come together and become accustomed to their new team mates and new places.
The Huskers take the court this weekend against UC-Davis Friday night at 6:00 pm CDT, the University of South Florida at 10:00 am CDT Saturday, and Georgia Tech at 3:30 pm CDT Saturday.