The last time these teams met the national championship was the prize. It took five sets to decide. The last four national championships have been won by these two teams. Tonight’s match is very exciting. It is one both teams want to win, but it isn't the national championship.
I believe both coaches will try to play to win, but I also think they’ll limit their matchups and lineups mixes somewhat to wait for the tournament when, very likely, these two teams will meet again. I don’t think we’ll see everything, in other words. I think they will reserve those things for later in the season when there is more on the line.
What I’ll Be Watching For Tonight
What I do think we will see, and I will watch for, is TOUGH serving. Watch to see how consistently each team can serve when the game plan relies on getting the other team out of system. When teams serve tough, they often miss long by trying to drive passers deep or they can miss in the net by hitting too hard. Tough serving can increase errors.
Serving can improve greatly over a season so this variable could be a take away for either team, win or lose. And depending on the outcome, they will keep working on it all season and we’ll see improvement over the course of the season.
Second, watch to see how the serve receive passers respond to those tough serves. In some rotations the serve receive formation changes from 2 to 3 passers, or alternatively different players step in or are subbed. Nebraska has younger and less experienced passers. That doesn’t mean they will make more errors, but it does mean they don’t have as much college experience in getting themselves out of a passing slump or a bad rotation. Watch to see how they respond after a bad pass. Where is their mind? How do they get rid of the last play and focus on the next?
I was a setter in my career so watching that position is what I naturally do as a fan. Gosh, these two setters are good. They are good in many facets of the game. Nebraska’s Nicklin Hames is perhaps a better backrow defensive player of the two. She gets to a lot of balls out there. Jenna Gray for Stanford has an edge in blocking. Both place the ball well for hitters and lead their team with energy. What a joy to watch!
The setters will play a large roll as I expect both teams feel they’ll need a balanced attack to win. Coach Cook talked about a total team effort for this match; in his view there is no one player that will win this match for his squad. On the other side of the net, I do expect Kathryn Plummer to carry a large load for Stanford. The two time national player of the year is one of the best players in the country, at any level.
How to Watch, Listen or Stream
You can watch the match on Wednesday September 18th at 7 pm CST televised on BTN and streamed online at FoxSports.com and on the FoxSports app. Larry Punteney and Salima Rockwell will call the action.
The match can also be heard on Husker Sports Network radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and also on the official Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 26th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.
Of course, we will have a game thread (around 6:30 pm CT) here on CN - come join us to cheer the team on!