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Nebraska Volleyball beats Michigan in Four Sets after a Sluggish Start

Shaky passing leads to a first set loss. Serving and defense turned the next three sets into wins.

Lydia Asplin/NU Communications

Nebraska 3 Michigan 1- 19-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-19

Nebraska had poor serve receive passing for much of the match. They were aced five times and had quite a few passes well off the net. This, of course, impacts the offense as well as the rhythm of the team. While the passing improved through the match, but was never truly dependable.

The Huskers were equally impressive as Michigan from the service line. They served 10 aces, Akana with five. Serving is what got them going in set 2 after a pretty bad set 1. The strong start led to other parts of the their game plan falling into place, like attacking and blocking.

Caffey and Sweet both had 6 blocks. Stivrins had 5. This level of defense at the net was a difference maker for Nebraska. Michigan didn’t have a response for this aspect of the game. Behind the block, Densberger had 8 digs (which is very impressive with her limited time on the court), Hames 16, Knuckes 10, Akana 12. The effort of these four kept rallies going that seemed impossible. You gotta love watching defense like that.

In the match tomorrow, Nebraska will look to improve communication, serve receive accuracy and reduce hitting errors. This is a talented Michigan team. They are also an inexperienced team, both in age and just too few matches this season due to Covid postponements, and as a result it has some predictable habits that they haven’t grown out of like where they set and hit. Those tendencies are giveaway gifts to an experienced team like Nebraska. Tomorrow, Nebraska will take better advantage.

Set 1 - Shank pass by Sun to start and a Kubik hitting error to follow. 0-2. A hitting error by Sweet, 0-4. Right back to Sweet on the next play for a kill, 1-4. Knuckles with a error in passing, 1-5. Michigan sets really tight to the net and forces hitters into errors, 3-6. Densburger served for Stivrins, just once with a Wolverine kill, 4-8. Timeout NU after a Sun hitting error, 4-10. Caffey kill on a slide after the break, 5-10. Longest rally of the night so far goes to U of M. Green card challenge won by NU, 6-14. Even Sun seems amazed at the number of errors after she served into the net, 6-15. Emma Gabel came in for Sun but hasn’t brought any lift yet, 7-19. A couple blocks by Stivrins and Hames gave some life, 10-19. Stivrins is going to work on the slide, 13-20. A couple aggressive attacks by Sun and Sweet look more like a team we know, 17-23. Tip kill by Sweet, 19-24. Set ends on a net, 19-25.

Set 2 - Akana starts with ace! 1-0. Another tough serve leads to an overpass that Hames terminates, 3-0. Another ace! 4-0. Hames attacks on the second contact for a kill, 5-0. Timeout Michigan. Michigan takes advantage of every NU mistake, overpass by Sun, kill UM. Caffey kill on a slide, 8-4. Two blocks by Sun and Caffey, 10-4. Hames ace, 11-4. UM timeout after a Sweet block, 12-4. Set to Sweet, her arms speed is good, kill! 13-4. Sweet and Caffey block, 17-5. Stivrins quick attack, 20-7. Stivrins blocked on the slide, 21-10. Timeout NU after a UM kill, 11-21. Smoking kill from the back row by Kubik, 22-12. Sun with a kill off the block for a kill, 23-13. Kunckles is aced, 23-15. Caffey kill, 24-16, she is hitting .444. Sun finishes the set with an ace, 25-16.

Set 3 - A missed serve give NU the lead, 1-0. Akana serves an ace, 2-0. Another, 3-0. A service error, 3-1. Akana struggling to pass serve, 3-3. Akana digs on an open net (no blockers) which leads to a Sun kill, 5-3. Knuckles is aced, 5-5. A much more back and forth set, 6-7. Densberger serves an ace, 7-7. Densberger dug three balls in the rally to lead to a Sun kill, 9-7. Hames kill, 10-8. Sweet gets a kill off the block (Michigan challenged unsuccessfully), 12-8. Long rally and big hustle rally goes to U of M, 13-9. Kubik kill, 15-10. The set to Kubik looks lower and faster tonight. Stivrins attacked a rocket, it was dug but Stivrins finished with a stuff block, 18-11. Akana gets her 5th ace, 19-11. Michigan timeout. Kubik big block!, 21-12. Densburger serves an ace, 23-12. Nebraska ends the set on Hames serve and a Kubik kill, 25-15.

Set 4 - A Sun hitting error, 0-2. A Kubik kill, 1-2. Sun moved to the front row and created a kill between the U of M block, 2-2. A Stirvins slide gives her 8 kills, 3-2. Communication is lacking for NU, costs a point. 4-4. Hames has a great dig bump set goes to Sun for a tip kill, 6-5. Long, well fought rally ends with a Sweet and Caffey block, 7-7. Kubik is blocked, 7-8. Back and forth blocks, Stivrins and Sweet, 8 all. Kubik serves and ace, 10-9. U of M player’s hair hits the net, green card challenge is unsuccessful, 11-12. Sun drills a ball, 13-12. Caffey stuff block, 14-12. Long and great rally ends with UM setter dump, 14-13. Caffey’s slide is a kill, 15-13. Caffey with a quick kill, 17-15. Kubik swipes off the blockers hands for a kill, 18-15. A sweet Sweet kill leads to a U of M timeout, 19-15. Stivrins slide kill makes 22-18. Stivrins dents the floor with her next kill, 23-19. The match ends on a reach over by Michigan’s MB. You can only reach over the net on the third contact by the other team, 25-20.

These teams play again tomorrow night on BTN at 6 pm CT.