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Volleyball: #5 Nebraska and #9 Minnesota Face off on an Emotional Senior Night in Devaney

Senior Kenzie Knuckles will use crutches on senior night after a knee injury in practice on Wednesday

Hailey Haar

#5 Nebraska (24-4, B1G 16-3) vs #9 Minnesota (19-8, B1G 14-5)
When: Saturday, November 26, 2022, 8 pm
Where: Devaney Center
Video: BTN
Radio: Husker Radio Network

#5 Nebraska (24-4, B1G 16-3)

#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

#9 Minnesota (19-8, B1G 14-5)

#2 Jenna Wenaas 6’1’’ JR OH
#3 McKenna Wucherer 6’1’’ FR OH
#5 Melani Shaffmaster 6’3’’ JR Setter
#6 Rachel Kilkelly 5’9’’ SR DS
#7 CC McGraw 5’11’’ GR Libero
#8 Naya Gros 6’3’’ GR MB
#12 Taylor Landfair 6’5’’ SO OH
#16 Ellie Husemann 6’3’’ SR MB
#20 Arica David 5’11’’ SO MB
#52 Carter Booth 6’7’’ FR MB

It is senior night in Devaney and Kenzie Knuckles is not on the court to play against Minnesota. This is going to be emotional. Coach Cook thought his team played in a frenzy last night against Wisconsin in an effort to make up for Knuckles not on the court. The effort was there but execution took a dive as hitters sent balls out of bounds and communication errors left balls falling between two players.

Knuckles injured her knee in practice on Wednesday is out for the remainder of the season. She and Madi Kubik recently announced that they do not plan to return next season even though they both have one year of eligibility remaining due to the COVID year allowance.

Knuckles said she was glad to make the decision and just “leave it all on the court” for the remaining matches this season. Ally Batenhorst was emotional in the post game press interview when asked about Knuckles saying “We really look up to her and she’s just a really big leader and cares a lot for her teammates. It’s really hard.”

It will likely be really hard tonight too. Nebraska will honor seniors Kenzie Knuckles, Madi Kubik, Nicklin Hames and Kaitlyn Hord following the match. Huskers need to find a way to channel the emotions into focused and precise play because the Gophers are coming to win.

They too have a case to build for the NCAA selection committee and the #5 Huskers are a great win to earn to build that case. The Gophers beat #8 Ohio State in four sets last night.

Taylor Landfair receives a ton of sets for Minnesota. Last night against Ohio State she was set 60 times out of a total 169 sets; that is 35% of the sets going to Landfair. Nebraska’s block needs to set up a camp, roast some marshmallows and BLOCK her. Last night against Ohio State she had 25 kills and hit .350.

The other outside hitters, Jenna Wenaas and McKenna Wucherer get set a bunch too. These three players get set about 85% of the Gopher’s balls. The middles, Carter Booth and Arica Davis are much less offensive contributors.

The setter, Melani Shaffmaster, is 6’3’’ and will attack the ball successfully. She will not surprise Nebraska with her set selection tonight. She will set to the outside hitters and Minnesota will win or lose on the shoulders of those outside hitters. Nebraska’s block has to cover the left and right side antennae and use good good form to block those hitters.

Earlier this season Coach Hugh McCutcheon announced he would move from the head women’s volleyball coaching job at Minnesota to Assistant AD/ Sport Development for Minnesota. He previously coached both Men’s and Women’s Olympic teams for the US and had success at that level too. A search committee will work to hire a new coach for Minnesota volleyball.

This is the first time these two teams have met this season. This match is an excellent opportunity for Nebraska to work through the line up change they were forced to make when Knuckles was injured.

Ally Batenhorst played all six rotations last night against Wisconsin to solve the line up change and she did so relatively successfully. She earned kills from the front and backrow. She passed serve VERY well and dug a large number of balls. She seemed to fatigue late in the match so that is something she and the team need to manage as they enter the match tonight. GBR!