On Friday night, the #1-ranked Husker Volleyball team welcomed the #4 Wisconsin Badgers to the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. It was the first match of the weekend that would feature three of the top four teams in the country with #4 Minnesota coming in Sunday. The night belonged to the Big Red, however, as the Huskers swept the Badgers 25-21, 25-22, 25-15.
The Huskers took the first two points of the first set on a Holman/Kadie Rolfzen block and a Wisconsin attack that sailed out of bounds, but the score was quickly tied again at three.
The teams traded scores making it 4-4, but with Kadie Rolfzen on the service line, the Huskers used Badger hitting errors to take a 7-4 advantage.
Wisconsin closed the gap, but only by a point, and the back-and-forth sideouts continued until a Tionna Williams kill allowed the Badgers to tie the score at ten.
The Huskers took a two-point lead at 12-10, but the Badgers then tied it up at 12. The knotted score was short-lived, as the Huskers went on a 3-0 run into the media timeout, holding a 15-12 advantage.
The Huskers extended the advantage after the timeout, and the 16-12 Nebraska lead forced the first Wisconsin timeout of the night.
Even after the timeout, the Badgers couldn’t close the gap, and with the Husker advantage at five, 21-16, Wisconsin used their final timeout of the opening set.
The Huskers opened the lead to as much as 23-17 before Wisconsin took serve back. Wisconsin closed to 23-19 before a Kadie Rolfzen attack was called touched on the way out of bound. That made the score 24-19 Nebraska, but Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield used his first challenge of the match, a challenge he won, as there was no touch shown on the replay. It made the score 23-20 Nebraska.
Wisconsin’s Haleigh Nelson aced the Huskers for their next point, closing to 23-21 before the Huskers used a 2-0 run to finish the set 25-21.
Amber Rolfzen had five kills on five swings in the first set to hit 1.000, leading a Husker attack that hit .297 to .159 for Wisconsin. Kadie Rolfzen also had five kills, but with her four errors, she hit .071.
Once again the Huskers took the first two points of the set to start the second set, but as in the first set, Wisconsin quickly tied the score again at three.
This time, though, the Huskers opened a two-point lead again quickly at 6-4. The Huskers extended that to 10-7 and only briefly held that three-point advantage, as the Badgers closed to 11-10, but a block by Amber Rolfzen and Kelly Hunter with Kadie on the service line made the advantage three again for the Huskers, 13-10.
The Huskers took a 15-11 lead into the media timeout of the second set, and Amber Rolfzen got the kill out of the media timeout, making the score 16-11 Huskers.
Though Wisconsin found ways to terminate and earn points, the Huskers answered back every time, so the gap stayed at the four to five point size for quite awhile, with Wisconsin taking their first timeout of the set trailing 20-15.
In what was becoming a recurring theme, Amber Rolfzen took the first point out of the timeout, making the score 21-15 Huskers.
Wisconsin put together a run of their own, begun with the Huskers up 22-17, and spurred on by a missed Kadie Rolfzen serve, to close the gap to 22-19 Huskers, forcing Coach John Cook to use the first Husker timeout of the second set.
The Huskers slowed the Badger run, making the score 23-19 Huskers, but the Badgers answered right back, making the score 23-20 Nebraska.
The Huskers took the set point 24-20, but Wisconsin wouldn’t go away quietly and kept the Huskers from finishing the set, forcing the second Husker timeout holding a two-point advantage. On the next point, the Wisconsin attack sailed long, and the Huskers took set two 25-22.
Amber Rolfzen’s torrid pace continued in the second set, as she added six more kills and was hitting .625 through two sets. Kadie Rolfzen had eight kills and was hitting .190. Andie Malloy and Mikaela Foecke each had four kills through two sets. The Huskers led the Badgers with a .282 hitting clip to .173.
The Huskers came storming out of the gates in the third set, after the 1986, 1996, and 2006 teams were honored in the intermission, taking a 3-0 advantage right away.
After back-to-back Husker blocks, the score was 6-1 Nebraska and Wisconsin used their first timeout early in the set.
It didn’t get any better out of the timeout for the Badgers, as another block, followed by two Holman kills pushed the Husker lead to 9-1.
The Badgers began to creep back into the set, blocking a Kadie Rolfzen attack to close the score to 12-7 Nebraska.
Momentum quickly swung back the Huskers’ way, however, and the lead was opened up to seven points, and the Wisconsin servers had a difficult time getting their serves to find the court, sailing two in a row deep. An off-speed attack by Andie Malloy pushed the lead to 19-11 Huskers and forced the second, and final, Wisconsin timeout of the set.
Wisconsin never made a game of it again, with Nebraska actually able to extend their lead and take the set, and the match, 25-15.
Amber Rolfzen hit a spectacular .609 for the night with 16 kills on 23 swings. Mikaela Foecke had seven kills with no errors on 15 swings to hit .467. The Huskers .330 to .179 for Wisconsin.
Nebraska outblocked Wisconsin 10 - 5.5 for the night, led by Briana Holman who was part of six block assists.
Justine Wong-Orantes had 15 digs to lead a Husker defense that had 48 digs against 38 for the Badgers.
The biggest story of the night might’ve been the success of the Husker middle attack. Both Briana Holman and Amber Rolfzen were finding the floor nearly at will with their attacks all night. Rolfzen actually converted her first eight swings of the night into kills.
This win was Nebraska’s sixth straight against top five teams, a streak the Huskers look to continue on Sunday afternoon against #3 Minnesota. That match, also at Devaney, will start at 1:00 PM Central and will be aired on BTN and BTN2Go.com.