Nebraska 3 vs Michigan 1 - 25-16, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17
This was a big win for Nebraska on the road. Beating #13 Penn State is the first win in the last three attempts over ranked teams (Creighton was #19 when Nebraska beat them in 3).
Nebraska clearly came into the match with a clear game plan for how to beat PSU. It worked very well in set one; the Huskers never trailed in that set and won by 9 points. Then Penn State head coach Russ Rose made some subs.
He subbed in players who haven’t played in a match this season. Nebraska didn’t have a game plan that included these subbed players and that made the difference in set 2. There were 13 ties and 6 lead changes in set 2. Anjelina Starck, one of these subs, is a freshman outside hitter from Colorado who came in and was effective for PSU. That made the difference for PSU in coming back to even the match at 1-1.
Defense was amazing on both sides of the court tonight, and really started to heat up in sets two and three. Lexi Rodriquez dug balls with one hand fully stretched out horizontal five feet away from her. She reacts so well to the game. It is astonishing to watch her. She had 19 digs. Kenzie Knuckles had 13, Madi Kubik, 12, Nicklin Hames 12 and Keonilei Akana 12. The team had 76 digs in a four set match, 21 more than Penn State, who is also a great defensive team. The Huskers played better-than-great defense.
Kubik and Ally Batenhorst were powerful on the outside pin. They received half of the sets in the match between them, 83 of the 156 sets went their way. When you get that many sets, the blockers are paying attention and you are doing a lot of work and get tired. Both outside hitters were still very efficient. Kubik had 19 kills and hit .235. Batenhorst had 15 kills and hit .375.
Coach Cook took note of the “long rallies and incredible scrappy play” his team displayed. He also took time to note that “the Huskers found a way to pull it out”. He is looking for his team to push back in matches; to get back up after they are knocked down. There is promise that this Nebraska team can do that based on what we saw in this win tonight.
Another impressive part of Nebraska’s play tonight was their serving. Nebraska’s serve forced Penn State into nine serve receive errors. This is more than three times their average. Coach Cook said was important to the game plan. “If you want to slow Kaitlyn Hord you better serve tough. I kept telling them ‘Attack with your serve’.”
This was a great win against a talented and well coached team. Nebraska should take this win, celebrate it and build on it to make them a tougher team this season.
Nebraska ends this road trip at Rutgers on Sunday, Oct. 10, with first serve set for Noon CT at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J. The match will be streamed on Big Ten Network+ with Pat Boyle on the call. John Baylor and Lauren Cook West will also have the radio call on Huskers Radio Network.