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Nebraska Volleyball vs Loyola Marymount and Ole Miss Preview

More than you ever wanted to know about serving

Scott Bruhn

#2 Nebraska (3-0) vs Loyola Marymount (1-2)
When: Thursday, September 1st, 2022, 6:00 pm (CT)
Where: Devaney Center Lincoln, NE
Video: Nebraska Public Media and B1G+
Radio: Husker Radio Network

#2 Nebraska (3-0) vs Ole Miss (0-2)
When: Saturday, September 3rd, 2022, 7:00 pm (CT)
Where: Devaney Center Lincoln, NE
Video: Big Ten Network and FoxSport (stream)
Radio: Husker Radio Network

#1 Nicklin Hames 5’10’’ SR Setter/DS
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8’’ SR DS/L
#4 Anni Evans 5’9’’ JR Setter/Serving Specialist
#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

The focus for the weekend is on the Husker side of the net. Nebraska will tune the machine and move into a higher gear as the conference season grows closer. They must continue to improve every practice and every match.

A key improvement against LMU and Ole Miss is serving consistency. Nebraska missed 10 serves against Pepperdine. That is too many.

The mechanics of serving are simple; toss, step, jump swing. OK, OK that is an oversimplification but it isn’t tough to serve a ball in a volleyball court. After 30 minutes with Coach Cook, YOU could do it.

Of course, Huskers are not just trying to serve the ball in, they aim to keep the ball low to the net (below the antennae), they want the ball to make the serve receive passers move and they are working the ball to the perimeter of the court (not to the middle, too easy to pass).

The challenge in serving is the mental focus connecting to the physical action. Each server develops a routine so that the mechanics of the serve turn into a subconscious habit. She could hit that serve half asleep if her routine is developed and practiced. The errors happen when the routine isn’t solid or it is interrupted or if the circumstances of the match over-ride the routine of serving.

For example, during a timeout, the next server thought about the serve a lot, coach told her who to serve and by the time the whistle blows the mental thought is in charge and the consistency of the routine is broken. This is precisely why coaches wait until just before the serve to tell players where to serve. The player doesn’t have time to think about it, she goes into her routine and executes. This is a higher chance of serving success.

Setting the middles in front of the setter is also an area of key improvement for Nebraska. Many times the set is too low for the middles. Kennedi Orr is working each and every day to set the ball to the best height for each middle and with the pace on the ball that will allow that middle to contact the ball at the very peak of her jump and arm reach. The peak gives that middle the most shots to hit either above or around the block.

The slide set to the middles is consistently well set and hit. It is the quick set in front and next to the setter that needs to improve.

We may also see additional sets in these two matches. In the first weekend, there were limited sets called so that Orr could work on getting consistent on them. As the season moves forward, new sets will be added. Since the slide to the antennae is working well, perhaps a quick set behind the setters head will come soon or one halfway to the antennae. The outsides may attack two feet in from the antennae to beat the block inside and have a sharp cross court shot to hit.

Nebraska will aim to maintain their level of blocking and defense from last weekend. They averaged 3.44 blocks per set which is seventh nationally. The opponent’s hitting percentage is closely related to the number of blocks by the Huskers. Nebraska held opponents to a .010 hitting percentage last weekend.

Ole Miss head coach Kayla Banwarth is making her first trip back to the Bob Devaney Sports Center as the head coach at Mississippi. Banwarth was a standout libero at Nebraska from 2007-10 and a national champion assistant coach for the Huskers in 2017.