Season opener. Nerves. New. Never lost to Creighton. 18-0. Pressure. Highly talented players. Strong leadership. All of these describe the match tonight.
Let’s start with the result. Nebraska beat Creighton in four sets tonight.
25-19, 24-26, 25-17, 25-21
First of all let’s acknowledge that two teams that are only fifty miles apart are two of the very best teams in the country. That is something that all of Nebraska can be proud of. Coach Cook called it a “celebration of Nebraska volleyball” in the post game press conference. He’s right; there’s a lot to celebrate.
Getting back to the game, he also said that, first, he saw jitters in his team’s play during this match. Secondly his squad has to work a lot on serve receive. OK, while those two statements are kimd.of generic and probably true for every team in the country, let’s get into the weeds a little.
First of all let me say, watching my first game in the Devaney Center was AMAZING. I was giddy I was so happy. The scene is unreal. Now, imagine you’re on the court in that environment. Tough to find your groove and play your best. I can only imagine. So, yes, jitters is understandable.
But back to the business of the game...
Coach Cook used a fair number of subs tonight. Some of the subs were part of the game strategy, others were reactions to the play of one player or another. Megan Miller was a planned sub. She was always going to come in for Jazz Sweet in the backrow. Capri Davis on the other hand was a reaction sub to Madi Kubik playing tentative.
Now, I’m sure Davis coming in the backrow for Kubik was always an option, but Coach didn’t choose that option until he felt he needed to.
Here is the thing with making a lot of subs: It changes who players are next to in the serve receive, and so changes how you communicate. Each player’s tendencies are different. The team practices all these scenarios but if you have to practice 25 scenarios you may just miss the cue when it comes game time. I think it introduces possible error.
Coach Cook thought the team’s preparation for this match, and the player’s adaptiveness to rotation changes was good, and so they were able to adjust and win. That is a really good sign this early in the season; a younger team like this can practice well and be prepared for any number of different game scenarios. This shows we have much to look forward to.
A couple players played especially well tonight, in my opinion. Nicklin Hames was very good on defense digging balls, and she served well at almost every attempt. Her service rotation caused real trouble for Creighton. Take note, she was also a leader on the court. She gave other players what they needed.
I thought Kenzie Knuckles played really good defense and was very dependable. Serve receive was a weaker point for the team overall but Knuckles was a consistent passer. Great!
Tomorrow volleyball plays UCLA. I don’t think UCLA will challenge Nebraska as much as Creighton did but it will be good ball. The match starts at 7 pm at the Devaney Center. You can watch on NET and the Husker Sports Network. Earlier in the night Creighton faces Baylor in the 4:30 p.m. match. Baylor swept UCLA in the early match on Friday, 25-20, 25-16, 25-20.