clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Volleyball: #2 Nebraska vs #9 Stanford Preview

#2 Nebraska (7-0) vs #9 Stanford (4-2)
When: Tuesday, September 13 2022, 7:00 pm (CT)
Where: Devaney Center
Video: BTN
Radio: Husker Radio Network

#2 Nebraska (7-0)

#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

#9 Stanford (4-2)

#2 Kami Miner 6’0’’ SO Setter
#9 Elena Oglivie 5’10’’ JR Libero
#10 Kendall Kipp 6’5’’ SR OH
#13 Elia Rubin 6’1’’ FR OH
#14 McKenna Vicini 6’2’’ JR MB
#17 Sami Francis 6’6’’ SO MB
#22 Caitie Baird 6’3’’ OH

Nebraska and Stanford are two of the most successful volleyball programs in the country. They are both consistently top 25 teams, and almost always top 10. Stanford has won nine national championships, the last in 2019. Nebraska has won five national championships, the last in 2017. These are places young girls dream of playing volleyball; I know I did.

Nebraska is Stanford’s fifth ranked opponent in a row. Starting on August 30th they played and beat then #13 Florida in five sets. September 4th they played and lost to #1 Texas in three sets. September 9th they played then #20 (now #11) Penn State. Stanford lost to PSU in five sets. The next night Stanford played then #3 (now #6) Minnesota and won in four sets.

These last two match up really baffle me. Minnesota is a better team than PSU. How did Stanford lose to the Nittany Lions but beat the Gophers? Couple of theories. Stanford was motivated to beat Minnesota. The Gophers knocked the Cardinals out in the second round the NCAA tournament last season. To prove you are a better team than last season by beating the team that beat you last; that will get you fired up.

Second theory. Stanford played in the Maturi Pavilion, Minnesota’s home court, two nights in a row vs. PSU and Minnesota. Stanford practiced multiple times in that gym. Getting use to a gym can reduce errors. As players start to feel more at home in a gym their line of sight adjusts to the backdrop. Depth perception gets better and service and hitting errors are reduced.

The statistics say Stanford had three service errors on both nights but in the loss to PSU they had 33 attack errors and in the win over Minnesota they only had 19. The Gophers are a better blocking team, 2.54 blocks per set, than the Nittany Lions, 1.80 blocks per set. Against Stanford, PSU averaged 4.2 blocks per set. In this comparison, Penn State was the better blocking team vs Stanford.

What this means for Nebraska vs Stanford tonight is: blocking matters. Nebraska needs to place a well formed block in front of the Cardinals and let them make errors.

Stanford starts a freshmen, Elia Rubin on the outside. She is prone to errors, as most freshman are. Nebraska will serve to her. She makes passing errors too. When she is forced to pass and go to hit, she is more likely to make errors.

Stanford’s other outside hitter is Caitie Baird. She was a second team All American last season. She and libero Elena Oglivie will try to pass all these balls that Nebraska serves to Rubin. Baird and Oglivie are low error passers.

The specific location of the Nebraska serves matters. If they miss location and Oglivie or Baird are able to pass, then Stanford can run a faster and more complex offense. Pinpointed and tough serves to Rubin.

Baird will get a bunch of sets as the first outside hitter. She is normally low error as a hitter and will hit with good efficiency between .250 and .300 for the match. She is a physical hitter at 6’3’’. She will earn kills tonight.

Baird is almost as physical as the Stanford opposite Kendall Kipp. Kipp is a 6’5’’ senior that receives about 40% of the sets. She hits on the right side and often out of the backrow. She is excellent. Kipp joined Baird as a second team All American last season. She is the heartbeat of this team and when Stanford needs a sideout, $100, heck, I’ll make a $1,000 bet that the ball will go to her.

Sophomore setter, Kami Miner, runs a mostly balanced offence by getting the ball to all five hitters. With a heavy hitter on the right side it would be easy to just set Kipp but Miner shares the ball and this makes Stanford a better team. Miner is also an attacking setter and earns just under one kill per set.

Of note: Miner was the AVCA Pacific North Region Freshman of the year so she was in the running alongside Lexi Rodriguez for the AVCA National Freshman of the year, which Rodriguez won.

In the middle 6’6’’ Sami Francis and 6’2’’ McKenna Vicini earn their kills averaging 2.09 and 1.18 respectively. Francis is the best blocker on the team averaging 1.65 blocks per set. Kaitlyn Hord averages 1.57 blocks per set.

Nebraska’s outside hitters haven’t faced a block this big and skilled yet this season. They work in practice against big blocks and big brooms (training aids). Huskers will work to brush the ball off hands of blockers as they always do but they will also try to stress the Cardinal block by moving hitters around.

One of the reasons Coach Cook has Anni Evans and Nicklin Hames setting is because they both consistently set the same ball to the same location and they can set every type of set in the offensive scheme. This consistency and versatility allows Nebraska to run a more complex offense.

When an outside hitter moves toward the middle of the court to hit, the opposing middle block has to choose who to block. If the Nebraska setter sets the right player (setters work peripheral vision to see blockers and know when they move), they have a hole in the block.

Check this video breakdown by Assistant Coach Jaylen Reyes to see Nebraska hitters stressing the Creighton blockers.

Buckle up for a battle in Devaney tonight. Nebraska faces the next level of competition in the country. They sure can win this match but they at least must shift up a gear, compete, respond and adjusts to the Cardinal tests. Nebraska will be tested. Individual players will be tested. The most important thing they must do tonight is respond to the test.