This spring, the Huskers Women’s Volleyball Program embarked on their most ambitious beach season to date. In years past, the season lasted less than three weeks and had at most 12 competitions. This season lasted a total of a month from start to finish and encompassed 18 total matches, including two at the Hawks Championship Center in Lincoln. The team finished 4-14.
While the Huskers have been around .500 in years past, this year was much more of a struggle for the team. The most brutal run was five days in Hawaii where the Huskers didn’t win a single match. However, they were playing teams ranked in the top-15 of NCAA Beach Volleyball including the University of Southern California, the University of Hawaii, and Grand Canyon University. The closest the team got was two 2-3 losses to GCU.
Junior Kenzie Maloney was named best defender during the Outrigger Resorts Hawaii Invitational. The invitational was contested on March 17th and 18th.
The team stopped in Irvine, California on the way home from Hawaii and notched a victory over Concordia University (Irvine), but fell to Irvine Valley College and #5 Long Beach State.
The team had success to start the season, beating Benedictine University of Mesa 4-1 in Mesa, Arizona in their first match of the year. The Huskers also won both matches in Lincoln, beating Missouri State 4-1 and the Missouri Baptist 5-0 at Hawks Championship Center in Lincoln. Both those matches were closed to the public.
Scoring for the matches in Beach Volleyball is different than the game we’ve become familiar with in Husker Nation. In each competition, five matches are played. The teams are composed of two players. The two-on-two matches are played in three sets. The first two are to 21, the third to 15. The final scores that are published for the team reflect the number of matches won by the teams from each school. For example, when the Huskers beat Benedictine University of Mesa, Annika Albrecht and Kelly Hunter won their match, Kenzie Maloney and Sami Slaughter won their match, Allie Havers and Jasmine Schmidt won, and Lauren Stivrins and Jazz Sweet won. Hayley Densberger and Anezka Szabo lost their match, thus the Huskers won 4-1.
The Huskers do not compete in the full beach season which runs from late February to early May with the National Championship on May 4 this year at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Since the sport’s NCAA inception as a demonstration of sorts, the Huskers have used beach season as an opportunity to improve their skill set for the fall indoor season. Since the sport became a full NCAA sport, the Huskers have continued that methodology while gradually expanding their season and increasing the level of competition.
The spring season also gives outgoing seniors one last chance to compete for the Big Red.