Nebraska 3 vs Kansas 1 – 26-24, 18-25, 25-16, 25-17
Grand Island, NE hosted and welcomed the Nebraska volleyball team for this spring match up. It was a great crowd filled with new young fans as well as long standing faithful. Players hung around after the match for over an hour to sign autographs and smile for pictures. University of Nebraska volleyball is building excitement for volleyball in Nebraska.
The line up was generally the same for all four sets. Nicklin Hames set the match, Madi Kubik and Lindsay Krause played outside. Krause struggled in sets 1 and 2 so Ally Batenhorst came in for late set 2 and she started on the outside for the remainder of the match. Callie Schwarzenbach and Bekka Allick played middle blocker. Whitney Lauenstein played right side hitter with Keonilei Akana coming in the backrow to serve and play defense. Kenzie Knuckles served and played defense for the Krause/Batenhorst position in the backrow. Lexi Rodriguez played libero.
Kayla Caffey did not dress as her eligibility to play another season is still in question at the NCAA level. Coach Cook commented after the match that he “just hopes it is resolved by August”.
Hames, Kennedi Orr and Anni Evans warmed up during the pre game setting warm up. Hames set the match with Orr coming in for about six total rallies at the end of sets 3 and 4. Evans came in at the end of set 4, just before Orr was subbed in, and set one play. Coach Cook said he wanted the team to “run smooth” tonight and Hames was the best setter on the team right now.
Allick in the middle was aggressive and she was up in the air and available for attack. She earned six kills but also made five errors. Coach described her errors as how it goes to play middle as a freshman. He said that the middle position is one of the toughest ones for freshmen to play because of the speed of the game and many responsibilities the middle must fulfill.
Allick also served. At least one middle needs to serve and the libero can serve for the other middle. Allick didn’t have any aces but she forced Kansas out of their offensive system with her tough serve. Coach said he was “very pleased” with her serving game tonight and added, “she has a great serve”.
Madi Kubik carries a wide responsibility on this team. She passes, hits in the front row as well as the back row. She had the most hitting attempts of anyone on the court tonight with 45. She was the target for Jayhawk serves. She had four serve receive errors which Coach made a point to comment surprised him. He was not expecting her to struggle in this aspect of her play.
Anezka Szabo is a former Husker and the current kill leader for Kansas. She did damage against Nebraska tonight with 12 kills and 2 blocks. For at least one rotation Szabo had Whitney Lauenstein across from her on the block.
Lauenstein is a very good blocker. Tonight she had 8 blocks! She is explosive and very quick. This works to her advantage both as a blocker and an attacker. She can beat opponents to the point of attack or block, then she just waits and adjusts. Multiple times tonight she jumped for the block, watched the hitters arm and shoulder and dove her arms into their aiming point to take away the angle that aimed to hit. She stuffed the ball back in their face.
She finished with 12 kills and almost all of them went boom when they hit the floor. She just thumps the ball. When asked about how she feels about big blocks and hits, Lauenstein said “let’s go” and that she loves to get her team “hyped”. She also aims to reduce her errors and be a more consistent player this year.
The overall look of the Huskers tonight was promising, very promising. They responded to the challenges they faced in the KU block and had multiple options for attack to kill the ball. We can dream of the fall season with high hopes for big blocks, dynamic hitters, defense for days and service aces that force the opponents coach to sub. These are our dreams and they may be our realities. GBR!