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Nebraska Volleyball is Prepared for Oregon

The difference comes in the play of the middles

Hailey Haar

Nebraska (26-5, B1G 16-4) vs Oregon (25-5, PAC 12 17-3)
When: Friday, December 8th, 2022, 10:00 am
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
Video: ESPNU
Radio: Husker Radio Network

Nebraska (26-5, B1G 16-4)

#1 Nicklin Hames 5’10’’ SR Setter, Maryville, TN
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8’’ SR DS/L, Yorktown, IN
#4 Anni Evans 5’9’’ JR Setter, Waverly, NE
#5 Bekka Allick 6’4’’ FR MB, Lincoln, NE
#7 Maisie Boesiger 5’6’’ FR DS/L, Firth, NE
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5’’ SO DS/L, Sterling, IL
#9 Kennedi Orr 6’0’’ SO Setter, Eagan, MN
#10 Madi Kubik 6’3’’ SR OH, West Des Moines, IA
#13 Whitney Lauenstein 6’2’’ SO OH, Waverly, NE
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’5’’ SO OH, Houston, TX
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4’’ SO OH, Papillion, NE
#23 Kaitlyn Hord 6’4’’ SR MB, Lexington, KY
#33 Hayden Kubik 6’2’’ FR OH, West Des Moines, IA
#44 Maggie Mendelson 6’5’’ FR MB, Ogden, UT

Oregon (25-5, PAC 12 17-3)

#5 Brooke Nuneviller 5’11’’ SR OH, Chandler, AZ
#7 Colby Neal 6’3’’ FR MB, Poway, CA
#9 Hannah Pukis 5’11’’ JR Setter, Tacoma, WA
#10 Georgia Murphy 5’6’’ JR Libero, The Woddlands, TX
#15 Mimi Colyer 6’3’’ FR OH, Lincoln, CA
#16 Gloria Mutiri 6’2’’ SR Opp, Sand Springs, OK
#19 Elise Agi 5’11’ SO OH, San Francisco, CA
#25 Kiari Robey 6’2’’ SO MB Atlanta, GA
#42 Karson Bacon 6’4’’ JR MB Fontana, CA

Oregon Ducks like to set to their outside hitters. Post this on the billboards all through Louisville. Let everyone know. Let’s add some proof to the billboard. In their last match against Arkansas in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, 76% of the sets went to the outside hitters. If you know something is going to happen 76% of the time you will prepare for it.

Nebraska prepares for the sets to the outside with specific blocking and floor defense location. Each Duck outside hitter tends to hit a certain type of shot; she prefers it and is very good at it.

Just like you have tendencies; you wake up and make immediately coffee, you put your left sock on first. Nebraska prepares for those tendencies with blocking and floor defense, then adjusts in the match if that outside hitter is beating them another way.

The Oregon outside hitters are talented. Brooke Nuneviller is a senior with lots of experience and skill. She hits a lot of shots and is the heartbeat of this Duck team. The second outside hitter is a freshman, but a poised freshmen. I was surprised when I learned Mimi Colyer was a this inexperienced because she doesn’t play like it.

There are lots of freshman out there that impress and make an impact on their team but Colyer seems to be experienced beyond her years. She plays like a veteran in big moments, like the NCAA tournament.

The third outside hitter and primarily on the right side is Gloria Mutiri. This 6’2’’ senior brings fire and and follows up with kills on the right side. She is just enough of a threat that blockers must pay attention to her.

Oregon’s middle blockers, Kiari Robey, Karson Bacon and Colby Neal, do mostly that, block. They will not be set often. Oregon’s coach, Matt Ulmer, has options on the bench. He has rotated the line up through the regular season and expect to see a sub in the middle between these three players. Nebraska expects it and has prepared for all three middles.

Hannah Pukis is the starting setter and does a nice job playing defense and running the offence. Coach Ulmer also has a second setter on the bench, Elise Ferreira, who is ready to come in should the offense not be firing on all cylinders with Pukis. Oregon has bench options. The are a flexible team with more than seven players ready to contribute.

Nebraska’s keys do not include perfection or even outstanding performance on defense or offense. Hitters do not need to paint the corners or hit the best shot. Huskers need to apply pressure to the 2nd team out of the Pac12, Oregon, by serving low to the net and hard driven balls. They need to play good defense which forces the Oregon players to try different shots which in turn produces errors.

Nebraska middles can beat the Oregon middles, so quality sets that move Husker middles around the net is a level of play the Ducks can’t match. Their outsides are as good of outsides as anyone’s in the country but in the middle, they can be beat. Nebraska will exploit this difference. GBR!