In the season-opening VERT Challenge in Eugene, OR, the #1-ranked Husker Volleyball team knocked of #10 Florida Friday night 3-1 (25-27, 25-15, 25-16. 25-21) and #2 Texas 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-21) to solidify the teams position atop the AVCA Division I Coaches’ Poll.
On Friday night against the Florida Gators, the Huskers started cold and inconsistent with a series of serving errors and not a lot of kills, but managed to tie the first set up at 25 before Florida scored two to take first set 27-25. Ultimately, the team corrected their errors and terminated more swings to take the next three sets handily and finish off the Gators in four sets.
For the night, the Huskers hit .385 to Florida’s .260. Mikaela Foecke led the way for the Big Red hitting an inhuman .538 with 15 kills on 26 swings and only one error. Kadie Rolfzen had 16 kills on 33 swings for the night and hit .364. Newcomer Andie Malloy hit .250 in her Husker debut.
The Huskers had eleven more digs than the Gators (68-57), led by Justine Wong-Orantes’ 21. Kelly Hunter was the only other Husker defender in double digits with 13.
The Huskers had nine and a half block on the night, but Florida only recorded four. Briana Holman led the way for Nebraska with two solo and five assisted blocks.
The match Saturday night might have been the most anticipated early season match in the nation with #1 taking on #2 in a rematch of last season’s NCAA National Championship match and for Husker fans, it was also another chance to defeat Texas.
Much like that night at the CenturyLink Center last December, the Huskers came out on top in a sweep of the reviled Longhorns (note: Not all Longhorns are bad, I coach the Dorchester Longhorns. They’re GREAT!).
The first set was close early at 15-12, but the Huskers pulled away to take the set easily. The next two sets went much the same, with the third being the closest of the three.
The Longhorn offense struggled to get going at any point in the night, hitting a paltry .140 to the Huskers’ .304. Neither team had phenomenal defense, the Huskers led in both blocks (7-5) and digs (48-40).
Kadie Rolfzen led the Husker offense with 11 kills and a hitting percentage of .348. Amber Rolfzen was one kill behind her sister with ten to hit .438.
Kadie Rolfzen had her first double-double of the season adding 11 digs. Kenzie Maloney had 10 and Wong-Orantes had 13.
Both Amber Rolfzen and Briana Holman had three block assists for the match, but the team was led by Kelly Hunter’s four assisted blocks.
The VERT Challenge is a huge challenge for all the teams involved to start the season, but the Huskers rose to, and beyond, the challenge. Next weekend doesn’t get much easier for the Huskers with Iowa State and Oregon State coming in to town for the Nebraska Invite. The Huskers play Iowa State Friday night at 6:00, and take on Oregon State Saturday afternoon at 2:30.