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Volleyball: #9 Nebraska vs #7 Purdue - a Clash of Stars and Spectacular Play

A matchup of Top 10 teams!

Molly Houser

#9 Nebraska (15-3, B1G 9-0)vs. #7 Purdue (14-4, B1G 6-3)
When: Saturday, October 23, 2021, 8:00 pm (CT)
Where: Devaney Center
Video: BTN
Radio: Husker Sports Network - Lincoln (B107.3 FM); Omaha (AM 590);; Huskers App

Not only are the Boilermakers arriving in Lincoln loaded with talented and experience, they are coming in hot. Motivated by anger. In case you missed it, Purdue lost at home in five sets to Michigan State on Wednesday.

Purdue didn’t play that poorly against the 2-7 (in conference) Spartans, but MSU played inspired volleyball. And they soundly beat Purdue. When an underdog beats you, it lights a fire in the belly. Look out, whoever is next on the schedule. Obviously, that’s Nebraska who is on a bit of a hot streak themselves. What a match!

Welcome to Devaney highly talented, tons of experience and fired up Boilermakers

Purdue will come with whatever game plan they want; Nebraska is capable of handling it and winning. This Nebraska team is more dynamic than the Boilermakers. Meaning, they have more weapons as a team, and each of those weapons individually has more capabilities.

So let’s break it down. Not all these players will face each other directly across the net, of course, but here’s the position-by-position:
Outside hitters
Madi Kubik vs Caitlyn Newton - these two women can hit the ball from anywhere on the court and produce a kill. Newton averages 3.70 kills per set and Kubik 3.35. Both have a ton of shots and should be the go to player for their team. Defensively, Kubik digs 1.85 balls per set and Newton 1.75 balls per set. These two players really carry the work load for their teams. Newton has been that player for Purdue for three seasons. Kubik is newer to the role but handling it well.

Purdue also has two (really a third with Madeline Koch in the equation) outside hitters competing for the second OH position. Emma Ellis and Maddy Chinn each play about half the matches and Coach Shondell subs them mid match as well. These two have more experience than Ally Batenhorst but not as much as Lexi Sun. Sun is the best blocker in this bunch and we may see her sooner in the action tonight to work on blocking Grace Cleveland, RS all American attacker for Purdue.

Lauren Stivrins vs ... There is just no one to compare her to so I’ll leave this blank, but...
Jael Johnson for Purdue is a very good middle. She can run a slide, sure, but it is not comparable to Stivrins.
Kayla Caffey vs Taylor Trammell - Caffey is explosive, and always airborne and available for a set. She was great against Iowa with 5 blocks and 7 kills. Trammell, meanwhile, was an honorable mention all American last season. She blocks well with 1.37 blocks per set. She stays in front of the setter for attacks and only averages 1.22 per set. She is not as offensive as Caffey but does hit angles very effectively. She finds the corners on the quick attack.

Lexi Rodriguez vs Jena Otec - Otec is the current conference defensive player of the week. She is a 5th year player that acts as a rock in Purdue’s serve receive and defense. She averages 4.27 digs per set and has a .967 pass percentage. Rodriguez averages 4.08 digs per set and has a .972 passing percentage. Otec may have the presence on the court and leadership edge here and has established herself as possibly the best libero in Purdue history.

Nicklin Hames vs Hayley Bush - both are 5’10”, so when they are in the front row they are the target of opposing OHs. Both play great defense behind the block and locate sets well. Hames has more court presence for her team. Bush is more offensive and averages .60 kills per set while Hames only averages .34 kills per set. Hames is a vocal and passionate leader on the court.

Right Side
Lindsay Krause vs Grace Cleveland - Cleveland averages 3.31 kills per set and blocks 1.12 balls per set. Krause averages 2.41 kills per set and blocks .77 balls per set. Cleveland is a 1st team all American and carries a big load for her team. Krause is a very talented freshman who has a lot of international experience, and someday hopes to be the contributor for the Huskers that Cleveland already is for Purdue.

However, the advantage that freshmen have sometimes is that teams have never faced them. Emily Londot of Ohio State was the Big Ten freshman of the year last year is a good example of this. Last year she tore teams apart averaging 4.07 kills per set. This year she is averaging 3.75 (still really good) and hitting a .233 average. Teams have seen her and know her shots better. Kind of like seeing a starting pitcher the second time in baseball.

For the moment, Krause has a the freshman effect going in her favor while Cleveland has the all American effect going her her favor.

Overall Assessment

The Huskers need a balanced attack that moves around the net. The second outside hitter position needs to block well and give offensive production, not something they did well a few days ago against Iowa. Sun or Batenhorst need to produce kills. Serving has to disrupt the Purdue pass, no lollipops tonight! While on serve, the Huskers will target Newton to overload her passing and her heavy hitting responsibilities. They will keep the serve away from Otec; she passes nails (very well).

Make sure the equipment managers pump the balls with plenty of air tonight; these two teams will pound it. It should be a slug fest with plenty of defense and spectacular play. Nebraska wins this tough match with limiting errors, varying the offense and playing consistently.

University of Nebraska (15-3)

#1 Nicklin Hames 5’10’’ SR Setter - 2.98 digs per set
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8’’ JR DS - 1.98 digs per set, .960 reception %
#3 Kayla Caffey 6’0’’ SR MB - 2.34 kills per set, 1.14 blocks per set
#4 Anni Evans 5’9’’ SO Setter/Serving Specialist - .77 digs per set
#6 Keonilei Akana 5’9’’ SO DS - 2.21 digs per set, .941 reception %
#7 Rylee Gray 6’4’’ FR MB
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5’’ FR Libero - 4.08 digs per set, .972 reception %
#9 Kennedi Orr 6’0’’ FR Setter
#10 Madi Kubik 6’3’’ JR OH - 3.35 kills per set, .47 blocks per set, .945 reception %
#11 Lexi Sun 6’2’’ SR OH- 2.26 kills per set, .54 blocks per set, .948 reception %
#13 Whitney Lauenstein 6’2’’ FR OH - .90 kills per set, .29 blocks per set
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’4’’ FR OH - 1.86 kills per set, .29 blocks per set, .938 reception %
#20 Kalynn Meyer 6’3’’ SO MB -1.14 blocks per set
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4’’ FR OH - 2.47 kills per set, .77 blocks per set, .870 reception %
#25 Callie Schwarzenbach 6’5’’ SR MB - 1.16 kills per set, 1.29 blocks per set
#26 Lauren Stivrins 6’4’’ SR MB - 2.41 kills per set, .68 blocks per set

Purdue (14-4, B1G 6-3)

#2 Hayley Bush 5’10’’ R/SR Setter
#4 Caitlyn Newton 6’1’ 5th year OH
#5 Maddy Chinn 6’2’’ JR OH
#7 Raven Colvin 6’1’’ FR MB
#8 Maddie Schermerhorn 5’10’’ JR DS
#10 Marissa Hornung 5’7’’ SR DS
#12 Emma Ellis 6’2’’ JR OH
#16 Madeline Koch 6’1’’ JR OH
#17 Taylor Trammell 6’2’’ SO MB
#18 Jael Johnson 6’2’’ SR MB
#19 Jena Otec 5’10’’ 5th year Libero
#20 Grace Cleveland 6’3’’ SR OH