Nebraska 2 vs Utah 3 - 25-18, 26-24, 25-27, 23-25, 13-15
Nebraska wore camouflage jerseys in honor of the military on this 9/11. In the stands, the announcer also asked veterans and service members to stand to be recognized. Nice move Nebraska. May we never forget.
This match lasted three hours and we saw Nebraska fluctuate between good and not so good volleyball. Nebraska couldn’t close and win set three, which was their best chance to close out the Utes.
After the game, Coach Cook felt as if Utah wanted this match more than Nebraska did. That we were tentative swinging at times on the pins.
Set one was filled with short rallies that often ended because of an error by one team or the other. It was not great volleyball but Nebraska made less errors and took the set 25-28.
Utah led most of set two including late into the set. Callie Schwarzenbach teamed up with both outside blockers to earn blocks late in the set to turn the tide. Nicklin Hames had a great dig that kept NU in the rally that ended in a Husker kill. Nebraska won set two 26-24.
Ally Batenhorst started set three in place of Madi Kubik. Batenhorst was largely successful as an attacker but struggled with passing. Utah targeted her with their serve and aced her twice in a row.
Set three was largely back and forth with the lead never more than two points for either team. Utah’s Zoe Weatherington started to come alive and had some critical kills. Nebraska had two set and match points but set three went to Utah 25-27.
Utah’s offense was working better in set four than it had all match. Utah attackers hit the ball off Nebraska blocker hands and earned kills. Weatherington, Dani Drews and Madelyn Robinson carried the offense for Utah. They started to roll and that meant Nebraska trailed by seven and eight points at times. Behind the serving of Hames and Kenzie Knuckles, NU made a run late in the set to make the final score close, 23-25.
Set five was a slow start for Nebraska and they trailed early, 1-4. Utah hitters chipped away at the block hitting off hands. The Huskers picked up a lot more digs to keep them in rallies but couldn’t make the offensive kills. When the match was on the line Drews was in the front row and made the match kill, 13-15 Utah wins.
We needed a closer tonight and we didn’t have one. Outside hitters need to produce kills on demand and that they couldn’t do. We also suffered from imprecise play. When blockers don’t push their hands over the net to complete the block, that is imprecise. When sets are too close to the net or too low, that is imprecise.
When those types of mistakes happen, focus or intensity needs to improve. You hope this is the match that brings that message deep to the heart of this Husker team so they don’t have to learn it again.
Next up is a non-conference road match on Tuesday, Sept. 14, visiting No. 14 Stanford. First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be televised on Pac-12 Network. John Baylor and Lauren Cook West will have the radio call on Huskers Radio Network.