Well, first game in the books. Some thoughts follow.
We were all excited to see who the starters would be. Lauren Stivrins and Kayla Caffey started as MBs, Lexi Sun and Madi Kubik as OHs, Nicklin Hames as S, Riley Zuhn as RH, Kenzie Knuckles as L and Keonilei Akana as DS.
That means Jazz Sweet didn’t start nor play the entire match. We also didn’t see Callie Schwarzenbach or Hayley Densberger.
Caffey was good. Schwarzenbach has been a fixture the last few seasons, but I don’t know how much time she’ll get this year with Caffey playing like that. Was interesting to see Akana start over Densberger, another interesting move. She made some good plays on defense but her digs were not well controlled and her serving wasn’t great, too many in the net. This position competition will be one to watch.
Overall, our passing was poor. There were not only missed passes by individual players but confusion between players as the ball was served near both of them. This signals not only the need for improvement for each player in the passing rotation but the need for better coordination as a team on serve receive. This is a multifaceted problem that I’m sure Coach Cook is addressing as we speak.
Serving was a miss, as well. Lexi Sun had one run at the start of set two with three aces but other than that there were MANY missed serves. They were in the net, which is so frustrating as a team. There isn’t even a chance for the other team to make an error. Coach thought this was going to be a strength of this team, but it didn’t play out that way tonight.
The hitters had errors, but found themselves with positive hitting percentages by the end of the match as things got settled down. Maybe we could have expected this. Sun’s experience showed the way, she led all players with 11 kills and a .429 percentage. Lexi found ways to get kills, and did so with some neat creativity. Her backrow attack was strong and fast. Hames used this option as a part of the offensive system, and that is when it works best!
Stivrins had 9 kills and also hit .429. Caffey had 6 kills and hit .273. She was available and in the air for Hames. Being available as a middle is valuable and perhaps why we saw her out there tonight. She also had 3 blocks and was a good presence at the net.
I expect Coach Cook and staff will prepare more specifically for the hitters from Indiana for the match tomorrow night. Breana Edwards, a junior, is the Hoosier’s only returning player. Nebraska took her out of the match with blocking. She hit -.286 with 8 errors. A great sign for us.
The other players for Indiana, the freshmen, hit great. Morgan Geddes hit .400 on 14 attempts and Tommi Stockham had 9 kills on 25 attempts. Now that the Nebraska coaching staff knows what to prepare for, they will have more blocks tomorrow night.
The next match is tomorrow, Saturday January 23rd against Indiana. The match starts at 5 pm CST.