Texas beat Penn State in four sets yesterday to advance to the regional finals against Nebraska. This is the sixth time these two teams have played in the NCAA tournament.
The strategy to beat Texas is similar to beating Baylor; reduce the impact of Logan Eggleston and don’t let any other players hurt you offensively.
Eggleston doesn’t get as many sets as Yossiana Pressley of Baylor, but it’s pretty close. In the match against PSU Eggleston had 63 of the total 150 team attack attempts. She converted those kills 22 times to hit .250. Eggleston is also a great server. She has 40 aces on the season.
Skylar Fields is also a threat on the outside. She had 21 kills on just 36 attempts to give her an amazing .500 hitting percentage. Nebraska must slow these two players down, a lot, to win.
The middles, Brionne Butler and Molly Phillips, didn’t get very many attempts, 11 and 16, respectively, against PSU, but they do make kills efficiently. When they are set, they put the ball on the ground. They are both strong blocking middles as well. The Huskers need to move the offense and vary shots which is a strength of Nebraska.
Husker Associate Head Coach, Tyler Hildebrand, comes up a lot when Nebraska players are asked about why the offense is working. They talk about how he asks them to be creative and take new shots. The execution of those instructions is essential to a win against Texas.
So while the strategy to beat Texas is similar to beating Baylor, it must be executed more efficiently. Texas is better than Baylor. The proof is in the four times Texas beat Baylor this year.
Texas has a better supporting cast to their star outside hitter, and they play better defense than Baylor. The libero for Texas, Morgan O’Brien, is great. She is a grad student transfer from Illinois.
Texas has average serve receive passing; it’s not as bad as Baylor. Nebraska will exploit their weak passers as well as stress Eggleston and Fields by making them pass before the hit as much as they can. They sub in a lot of defensive specialist for their hitters in the backrow so often the outside hitters are not part of the serve receive passing formation. This allows them to just focus on hitting.
Nebraska will also try to serve short more today, as Texas will stack their hitters to one side and serving into the stack can cause confusion and disrupt the hitters approach to the net.
The setter, Jhenna Gabriel is 5’8’’. The Huskers will take advantage of that while she is in the front row. She plays with a lot of passion and pride; she likes to sneak the ball over for a kill herself.
Husker fans hold their breath to know if Lauren Stivrins will play today after she sat out yesterday in the match against Baylor. When asked about whether Stivirns will play today, Coach Cook said “tomorrow is a new day, we’ll see”.
Callie Schwarzenbach played in the middle yesterday for Stivrins. She had 3 kills on 7 attempts and added 5 blocks. That is a good match!
#5 Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-2) vs #4 Texas (25-1)
When: Monday, April 19, 2021, 1:30 pm CST match.
Where: CHI Health Center Omaha Convention Center
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network - Lincoln (B107.3 FM); Omaha (CD 105.9 FM); Huskers.com; Huskers App
University of Nebraska (25-1)
#1 Nicklin Hames 5’10’’ JR Setter - 11.06 assists per set, 2.85 digs per set
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8’’ SO Libero - 3.53 digs per set, 15 aces
#3 Kayla Caffey 6’0’’ JR MB - 2.04 kills per set, 1.08 blocks per set
#6 Keonilei Akana 5’9’’ FR DS - 2.49 digs per set, 20 aces
#10 Madi Kubik 6’3’’ SO OH - 2.77 kills per set, 2.46 digs per set, 13 aces
#11 Lexi Sun 6’2’’ SR OH - 3.76 kills per set, 2.14 digs per set, 24 aces
#12 Jazz Sweet 6’3’’ SR OH - 1.54 kills per set, .53 blocks per set
#25 Callie Schwarzenbach 6’5’’ JR MB - .90 kills per set, 1.06 blocks per set
#26 Lauren Stivrins 6’4’’ SR MB - 3.29 kills per set, 1.09 blocks per set
#2 Jhenna Gabriel 5’8’’ JR S - .32 blocks per set, 2.24 digs per set
#5 Skylar Fields 6’2’’ SO OPP - 3.12 kills per set
#7 Asjia O’Neal 6’3’’ R/SO MB - 1.11 blocks per set
#8 Sydney Petersen 5’4’’ JR DS -1.64 digs per set
#9 Molly Phillips 6’5’’ SO MB - 1.75 kills per set, 1.04 blocks per set
#10 Brionne Butler 6’4’’ JR MB - 2.14 kills per set, 1.56 blocks per set
#16/44 Morgan O’Brien 5’8’’ Grad Student L - 3.09 digs per set
#33 Logan Eggleston 6’2’’ JR OH - 4.58 kills per set
Other Matches Today
11:00 am CST #6 Washington vs Pittsburgh ESPN2
5:30 pm CST #1 Wisconsin vs #8 Florida ESPNU
8:00 pm CST #2 Kentucky vs #7 Purdue ESPNU
All four regional final matches are on the center court of the CHI Health Center and more fans are allowed in the building.