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Volleyball: Nebraska vs MSU

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We watch to see another great performance from a team with limitless potential

Molly Houser

#12 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) vs Michigan State University (8-4)
When: Sunday, October 3, 2021, 3:00 pm (CT)
Where: Devaney Center, Lincoln, NE
Video: Big Ten Network, Fox Sports App
Radio: Husker Sports Network - Lincoln (B107.3 FM); Omaha (AM 590); Huskers.com; Huskers App

Three Husker volleyball teams will be honored as part of a Weekend of Champions event at the Devaney Center. Tonight, NU’s 1990 NCAA Semifinal team will be honored during the match. Coached by Pettit, the 1990 squad swept three matches to advance to the national semifinals and finished 32-3.

Today, NU will recognize both the 2000 and 2001 Husker teams in-match. The 2000 squad was John Cook’s first team at Nebraska and posted a perfect 34-0 season en route to the national championship. The 2001 team finished 31-2 and reached the national semifinals.

We saw great play on Friday night from the 2021 squad. They elevated their level of play as a team and dominated a quality Wolverine team. Credit is due to senior captain and All-American Lauren Stivrins. Her potential before she was healthy this season, was to provide this team with the missing piece to their puzzling inability to push teams that their talent otherwise says they should push.

It’s only one match, but early indication is that by stepping on the court for a match, she brought together the links of a chain that is strong enough to win against the best teams in the country. She may get the credit for all of this, as the final piece needed to elevate the team. And maybe she deserves it. Maybe.

Of course, every other Husker that stepped on the court on Friday executed to a high level. Ally Batenhorst terminated the ball with a variety of shots and hit aggressively. Keonilei Akana served well and dug tough balls with precision. Nicklin Hames spread the offense with almost mathematical equivalence, and made those sets in great locations for each hitter (and she served really well!!).

We can go on about the high level of play for each individual. But Friday was a team performance, perhaps brought made possible by a great player and leader, Stivrins, who is respected by her team and boosts the entire program and, really, the whole Husker volleyball nation. Heck, maybe even Husker football nation!!

We’ve seen this happen in other sports, at other times, like Derek Jeter and the Yankees; surrounded by talent but he was the “x” factor that pushed them over the top. Whatever the cause, the Huskers were able to sustain that high level of play for three sets against Michigan, and that’s a start.

The test is to sustain and continue to improve this new level of play for another match, two, five, for the next 17 conference matches plus the NCAA tournament. But we’ve at least got the first part of that test behind us.

GBR!

University of Nebraska (9-3)

#1 Nicklin Hames 5’10’’ SR Setter - 2.81 digs per set
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8’’ JR DS - 1.69 digs per set, .963 reception %
#3 Kayla Caffey 6’0’’ SR MB - 2.32 kills per set, 1.03 blocks per set
#4 Anni Evans 5’9’’ SO Setter/Serving Specialist
#6 Keonilei Akana 5’9’’ SO DS - 2.12 digs per set, .930 reception %
#7 Rylee Gray 6’4’’ FR MB
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5’’ FR Libero - 3.66 digs per set, .975 reception %
#9 Kennedi Orr 6’0’’ FR Setter
#10 Madi Kubik 6’3’’ JR OH - 2.76 kills per set, .44 blocks per set, .934 reception %
#11 Lexi Sun 6’2’’ SR OH- 3.11 kills per set, .52 blocks per set, .947 reception %
#13 Whitney Lauenstein 6’2’’ FR OH - 1.45 kills per set, .44 blocks per set
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’4’’ FR OH - 1.74 kills per set, .34 blocks per set, .938 reception %
#20 Kalynn Meyer 6’3’’ SO MB
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4’’ FR OH - 2.29 kills per set, .85 blocks per set, .864 reception %
#25 Callie Schwarzenbach 6’5’’ SR MB - 1.88 kills per set, 1.33 blocks per set
#26 Lauren Stivrins 6’4’’ SR MB - 3.67 kills per set, 1.00 blocks per set

Michigan State University (8-4)

#1 Talia Edmonds 5’7’’ R/JR Libero (from my hometown Kalamazoo, MI)
#2 Celia Cullen 6’1’’ SO Setter
#6 Biamba Kabengele 6’0’’ JR OH
#13 Sarah Franklin 6’4’’ SO OH
#17 Naya Gros 6’3’’ SR MB
#20 Cecilee Max-Brown 6’1’’ JR OH
#21 Rebecka Poljan 6’2’’ SR MB

Nebraska visits No. 14 Penn State on Friday, Oct. 8, with first serve set for 6 p.m. CT at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa. The match will be televised on Big Ten Network and streamed on the FOX Sports app. John Baylor and Lauren Cook West will also have the radio call on Huskers Radio Network.