The #5 Nebraska Women’s Volleyball Team continued what is a brutal run of road matches, taking on four straight top ten teams in their gyms. This weekend saw the team travel to Madison, Wisconsin where they fell 2-3 (20-25, 25-19, 25-17, 17-25, 8-15) to the Badgers and then to Minneapolis where they fell 1-3 (25-19, 23-25, 23-25, 18-25) to the Golden Gophers.
On Friday night, both the Huskers and the #9 Badgers struggled on offense with the Huskers hitting .087 and being outpaced by the .114 by Wisconsin. Most of the reason for that is the incredible defense by both teams. Nebraska had 12 blocks and 77 digs, but they were outdone by 13.5 block and 94 digs by Wisconsin.
Saturday night saw the #3 Minnesota Golden Gophers beat the Huskers for the second time this season by the same set score. The difference Saturday was errors. Nebraska committed 25 attack errors while Minnesota limited themselves to 13. Nebraska also had only four blocks for the night. Minnesota notched eight.
This road trip may be exposing the Huskers to be the young, inexperienced team that some expected. Frankly, at the beginning of the season, I thought this team being ranked second in the AVCA poll and picked as the favorite to win the B1G was sort of ludicrous. Clearly there’s a ton of talent. It’s evident the way this team blocks, digs, and attacks when things are going well. However, when the going gets tough, this team looks young.
Nebraska graduated some fantastic senior volleyball players and leaders last year. They’ve been replaced by two spectacular seniors as well in Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney. However, the leadership behind those two has been inconsistent at best.
By no means is this saying that the Huskers or their fans should write off the rest of the season. Quite the opposite, actually. Coach Cook has taken teams of all stripes deep into the tournament, and there’s no reason to believe that with the talent and athleticism this team possesses, they won’t do it again.
The reality is that this was a brutal run of matches for the young Huskers. It’s also a wonderful learning experience for this team, and the team looked much better against Minnesota this time than they did last time. They’re learning and growing.
This team will grow. They will be dangerous in the postseason. The match coming up on Saturday, October 27 against Illinois will tell fans a lot about how far this team has progressed when the #7 Illinois Fighting Illini come to Lincoln for a 7:00 PM Central battle. That match will be broadcast on BTN.
Before that, the Huskers wrap up this brutal road trip with a trip to Columbus, Ohio to take on the always pesky Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday. First serve from Columbus will be at 6:00 PM Central, also on BTN.