#5 Nebraska 3, Iowa 0 - 25-19, 25-21, 25-11
The hitting numbers are impressive for Nebraska, there is no doubt they put on a hitting show. The scores demonstrates a clear and decisive win. Nebraska was better than Iowa in both skill and athleticism, as you would expect, but there were areas of concern all the same, and that is where our minds go tonight even after a solid win. Passing was well off the net for a majority of the match, and communication errors caused missed points.
Serve receive was mostly off the net. If we looked at the chart the coaches keep on where passes are going, most passes were to the 10 foot line, at best. This makes the offense more predictable because sets can really only go to the outside hitters and that means they get blocked more often. Hames and Caffey overcame this a couple times, but passing is a problem.
Speaking of Caffey, WOW! She was able to hang in the air tonight and swing her arm with the speed of a freight train. The ball responded, also, as though it was struck by a freight train. Iowa may need to call maintenance for some floor repairs. She made plays tonight that very very few middles can make.
In other bright news, Jazz Sweet had a solid performance on the right side. She played the entire match, getting the nod over Riley Zuhn. Sweet had 7 kills and hit .417. I was struck by a play in the second set where Sweet ran off the court after a Hames dig and saved the ball. It was a hustle play. It was a reaction and athletic play. That is a player that wants to stay on the court. A good sign.
Set 1 - Jazz Sweet starting on the right side. oh my, an overpass by Knuckles to start the match, 0-1. A couple of NE kills then a service error, 2-2. Lexi Sun looked great from the back row and then she moved the front and kept getting kills there too, 5-2. The Stivrins slide was smooth, two kills, 7-3. Another, oh my! Stivrins makes a foot fault from the serve line. That doesn’t happen much at the college level, 7-4. Some defensive misses led to an 8-8 tie. Sweet breaks the streak with a kill, 9-8. Iowa’s Buzzario causes some blocking trouble for NE, 11-11. Kubik missing her blocking assignment took it to 11-12. Sweet is blocked, 11-13. A great set all the way back to the slide give Stivrins a kill, 14-15. Thus far Iowa is winning the serve-pass battle. Nebraska passes are off the net and not keeping NE in system offense. 15-17. Solid defensive dig by Knuckles led to an Iowa hitting error, 18-17. Also in this rally a highly athletic attack by Caffey, amazing! A kill by Kubik took the score to 21-19. Hames gets a kill! 22-19. Sun drills a ball from the back court, 24-19. An ace from Akana ends the set, 25-19. Nebraska hitting .429 and holding Iowa to .212.
Set 2 - Monster block by Stivrins, 1-1. Hames tip attack on the second touch, 2-1. While Stivrins is serving, Caffey is blocking, 4-2. Wow! Stivrins just attacked her serve for an ace, 5-2. Hames served a ball that forced an overpass and Sun and Caffey fight over it and it drops to the ground, 8-5. Hames set Caffey from well behind the 10 foot line, this was a great set to kill, 10-5. Sweet hits off the block and out of bounds, point NU, 12-7. She is hitting .333 with four kills at this point in the match. Buzzario is doing damage on the right side with kills, she is hitting .417. Sun has used a roll to the middle of the defense effectively a few times, kill to make 15-9. The passing is all over the place and that means Hames is too. 15-12 on a Sun hitting error. Long rally won by Iowa followed by a bullet serve that skims off Akana’s arms, 15-14 and a NU timeout. A termination by Caffey and she makes a block, 19-16. Caffey is a GREAT athlete, she just hung in the air, waited for the other middle to start going down and swung her arm faster than anyone could see to drill the ball into the floor, so impressive, 20-16. Sun serves an ace, 23-18. Buzzario is rolling for Iowa, 8 kills, .467, 23-21. A couple errors for Iowa ends the set, 25-21.
Set 3 - Hames mixes up the setting rhythm with two sets to Sweet and a quick to Stivrins, 1-0. Kubik with a kill and Iowa’s Buzzario with an error, 4-1. Akana and Knuckles kept a long rally going long enough to make Iowa commit an error, 7-1 Iowa timeout. Stivrins stayed in to serve this match. She was great from the service line and added a dig! 9-3. The offense is in full groove now. Everyone is contributing and that compounds to make each hitter more effective. Kill by Caffey. Next rally, kill by Sweet, 11-5. Sun with an ace, 13-5. Caffey pounds a quick set, 15-6. Stivirns push tips, 16-6. Timeout Iowa. Stivrins with a block, 19-7. Passing troubles still this set but Stivrins cleans it up with a block, 21-9. Zuhn and Evans came in for two points but were largely ineffective. Kubik from the backrow for a kill, 23-10. Caffey with a kill, 24-11. An Iowa error ends it, 25-11.
Nebraska and Iowa play again on Saturday in the Devaney Center at 6 pm CT on BTN+