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Nebraska Volleyball Takes on Maryland; The #1 Blocking Team in the Country

Nebraska v Creighton Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

#1 Nebraska (18-2, B1G 10-1) vs Maryland (13-10, B1G 4-7)
When: Saturday, October 29 2022, 7:30 pm (CT)
Where: Devaney Center
Video: BTN+
Radio: Husker Radio Network

#1 Nebraska (18-2, B1G 10-1)

#1 Nicklin Hames 5’10’’ SR Setter
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8’’ SR DS/L
#4 Anni Evans 5’9’’ JR Setter
#5 Bekka Allick 6’4’’ FR MB
#7 Maisie Boesiger 5’6’’ FR DS/L
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5’’ SO DS/L
#9 Kennedi Orr 6’0’’ SO Setter
#10 Madi Kubik 6’3’’ SR OH
#13 Whitney Lauenstein 6’2’’ SO OH
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’5’’ SO OH
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4’’ SO OH
#23 Kaitlyn Hord 6’4’’ SR MB
#33 Hayden Kubik 6’2’’ FR OH
#44 Maggie Mendelson 6’5’’ FR MB

Maryland (13-10, B1G 4-7)

#0 Rainelle Jones 6’3’’ GR MB
#2 Laila Ivey 6’1’’ FR OH
#4 Lexy Finnerty 5’7’’ SR DS
#6 Laila Ricks 6’0’’ JR MB
#8 Sydney Dowler 6’0’’ JR Setter
#12 Milan Gomillion 5’6’’ SO DS
#44 Sam Csire 6’0’’ JR OH
#88 Anastasia Russ 6’5’’ R/JR MB

Nebraska last met Maryland on October 2nd. Nebraska won in four sets (25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22). Neither Nicklin Hames nor Ally Batenhorst played during the October 2nd match due to injuries. The Huskers struggled offensively and only hit .099 as a team, due largely to the fact they had 29 hitting errors. But those errors were for a reason.

Maryland is an excellent blocking team. They lead the nation in blocks per set with 3.44 as a team. Wisconsin is #2 in the country in this stat and Nebraska comes in at #9 with 2.78 blocks per set. Blocking well means a team not only earns a lot of blocks but they force the opponent to hit tougher shots which then produces more errors.

The Terrapins are led emotionally by graduate student Rainelle Jones. She is a 6’3’’ MB who earns 1.65 kills per set and an impressive 1.75 blocks per set. You don’t normally see more blocks than kills per set! Anastasia Russ also earns more blocks than kills averaging 1.52 blocks per set and 1.50 kills per set. She is a 6’5’’ middle blocker that transferred to Maryland from Pitt in the off season.

Maryland primarily sets to the outside. Waiting for that set on the pin are Sam Csire with 3.8 kills per set and Laila Ivey with 2.54 kills per set. Sydney Dowler runs the offense and at 6’0’’ also puts up a nice block. She is averaging over a block a set which is great especially for a setter.

During the first match against Nebraska, Dowler produced four kills on six attempts. Nebraska will adjust the blocking and floor defense to reduce setter kills. Of course setter kills produce points just like any other kill but when a setter dumps the ball on your team, pride gets involved and so for that reason, Nebraska will improve here.

Maryland is coming off a four set win over Iowa (7-15, B1G 1-10) in Iowa City. Nebraska is coming off a three set loss to Wisconsin (16-3, B1G 10-1) in Madison. Coach Cook talked this week about getting training session in and working. With a two match homestand, meaning less travel this week, Nebraska has more days in gym to work.

Coach Cook also reminded his team that last season Maryland beat Wisconsin, the eventual national champion, in the regular season. His message “everyone is dangerous in the Big Ten”. GBR!