Nebraska volleyball returns home after two weekends of road trips; first to Indiana to face Purdue and U. of Indiana and then to Michigan to play the Spartans and Wolverines. The Huskers remain undefeated with a perfect 15-0 record. The Huskers evolve from week to week and a new star seems to carry the team just when they need it.
Last week Lindsay Krause threw the team on her back and led the charge, hitting .381 against MSU and .519 against U of Michigan. She was excellent in all facets of the game. The week before, Harper Murray and Merritt Beason were massive players in the win over Purdue. The week before that, it was Bergen Reilly who was the rock for the Huskers who defeated OSU and Minnesota. So who will shine this week?
This is week four of the B1G season which means some of the players on the Husker team, the freshmen, are entering their longest volleyball season to date. As a high school player, the season is culminating and ending soon. For the college player, this is the halfway point in the season. That fact may impact the mental and physical portion of a players game.
Serving is primarily a mental skill. The fundamentals of serving can be taught to almost anyone, but the confidence with which a player steps behind the line to serve can determine the outcome of her serve. Missing serves may be a symptom of mental fatigue. Coach Cook took steps this week to help the team recover from the travel in play by taking Monday off of practice and, at times, limiting jumping reps during practice.
Nebraska (15-0, B1G 6-0)
#2 Bergen Reilly 6’1’’ FR Setter
#5 Bekka Allick 6’4’’ SO MB
#6 Laney Choboy 5’3’’ FR DS/L
#7 Maisie Boesiger 5’6’’ SO DS/L
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5’’ JR DS/L
#9 Kennedi Orr 6’0’’ JR Setter
#10 Caroline Jurevicius 6’2‘‘ FR OH
#11 Hayden Kubik 6’2’’ SO OH
#13 Merritt Beason 6’4’’ JR OH
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’5’’ JR OH
#15 Andi Jackson 6’3‘‘ FR MB
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4’’ JR OH
#27 Harper Murray 6’2’’ FR OH
#44 Maggie Mendelson 6’5’’ SO MB
#2 Nebraska (15-0, B1G 6-0) vs Michigan State (11-6, B1G 3-3)
Michigan State gave Nebraska all they could handle for the first two sets last weekend in East Lansing. The Spartans success came from the service line and from attacking the Husker block.
Nebraska will work to pass more accurate balls on serve receive. MSU served only five aces in the four set match Friday but they caused many poor passes. These poor passes led to a slower and more predictable offense. Look for sharper and more pin point precision passes from the four primary serve receivers; Lexi Rodriguez, Harper Murray, Lindsay Krause and Laney Choboy.
Also, look to the block for improvement. Five days ago against MSU, Nebraska’s block was often not well formed and therefore open to errors. Spartan outside hitter, Taylah Holdem, gave the Husker block trouble. Holdem has an unorthodox arm swing. She brings her arm all the way around in a circular motion; some coaches call this a windmill arm swing. This different arm swing was hard for our Husker blockers to time.
Nebraska will work to serve MSU tougher. There were 15 aces and 10 errors for the Huskers in the last match up. Those errors were often aggressive serves that missed by a small amount. Those are the misses that they will mentally prepare to make into aces in Devaney on Friday night.
Stronger blocking, precise serve receive passing and fewer missed serves leads to a three set Husker win.
#2 Nebraska (15-0, B1G 6-0) vs #13 Penn State (12-3, B1G 6-0)
Penn State comes into Devaney with an eight match winning streak. They have new faces on their roster but they are not new to the B1G. Those experienced players seem to have found a rhythm together and are playing well. Most recently, they beat #24 Minnesota in four, Indiana in five and Ohio State in five sets.
You will recognize Mac Podraza as the conference setter of the year from 2022. She played for Ohio State but is now a graduate student for the Nittany Lions. Jess Mruzik is a senior outside hitter transfer from Michigan. She was first team all conference last season and is averaging 4.43 kills per set (k/s) for Penn State. Podraza sets Mruzik twice as often as any other player on the court.
Taylor Trammel is another inter conference transfer. She played for Purdue two seasons before transferring to PSU in 2022. Trammel is a talented middle blocker. She is offensive with 1.62 k/s and puts up a strong block, earning 1.15 blocks per set (b/s).
Allie Holland is PSUs other middle. Don’t fall asleep when she comes to the front row. She is a 6’3’’ senior MB and is involved offensively and defensively. She averages 1.64 k/s and 1.4 b/s. Both PSU middles offer an option to set on almost every play. This forces the Nebraska middles to wait, wait, wait for the set then release to block wherever it is set.
Camryn Hannah is yet another transfer player to Penn State. She played for Clemson for her first three seasons. This season as a Nittany Lion she is an offensive threat on the right side. She averages 2.74 k/s but has matches, when the defense allows her, where she earns four and five kills per set. A strong block in front of her is important to Husker defense.
Penn State is an offensively balanced team, similar to an earlier Nebraska opponent, Stanford. While Mruzik will receive the most sets, everyone on Penn State’s side offers a threat. When a team spreads the ball from the left to right antennae, blockers need to wait to make their blocking move and then once the set is made make the move fast.
Just like the Husker defense, Nittany Lion defense does not give up. They make plays that can frustrate teams. Husker hitters need hit a variety of shots and limit errors through the match. This is an excellent match up and has the potential to go five sets.
You can watch Nebraska vs Michigan State at 6 pm CT on B1G+ or listen on Husker Radio Network.
You can watch Nebraska vs Penn State at 7 pm CT on B1G/FoxSports or listen on Husker Radio Network.
Michigan State (11-6, B1G 3-3)
#1 Nalani Iosia 5’8” SR DS/Libero
#2 Karolina Staniszewska 6’0” FR OH
#6 Nil Okur 6’1” SO MB
#12 Evie Doezema 6’3” SO MB
#13 Aliyah Moore 5’9” JR OH
#14 Taylah Holdem 6’2” FR OH
#16 Grace Kelly 6’0” JR OH
#17 Jayhlin Swain 5’4” SO DS/ Libero
#19 Amani McArthur 6’3” 5th MB
#23 Cameron Berger 5’11” FR S
#13 Penn State (12-3, B1G 6-0)
#1 Taylor Trammell 6’2’’ SR MB
#2 Maddy Bilinovic 5’7’’ SR L
#3 Gillian Grimes 5’6’’ SO L
#5 Mac Podraza 6’2’’ SR Setter
#8 Camryn Hannah 6’2’’ SR RS
#9 Jess Mruzik 6’1’’ SR OH
#10 Anjelina Starck 6’2’’ JR OH
#17 Zoe Wetherington 6’2’’ SR OH
#19 Alexa Markley 6’2’’ SO OH
#20 Allie Holland 6’3’’ SR MB