Nebraska 3 Penn State 2- 15-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-13
Rec Hall was pulsing with energy as Nebraska took the court. Screaming fans, just feet from the court, dressed in costumes and inching forward as play went on. The fans brought the energy and Penn State brought the game plan. They punched Nebraska in the face set one. They bounced balls off the floor, dug everything and blocked balls straight down. They had Nebraska’s number, every single number.
As we thought, the hyper-talented PSU team can beat anybody, on any given night, if they can put it together. We haven’t heard the last of this squad, they’ll make some noise at the tournament.
Nebraska improved their passing in set two and the offense began to run. They also began to play more defense. It is unbelievable but true that Lexi Rodriguez earned her first dig of the night in set two. She finished the night with 13 digs. She also passed well on serve receive but possible, though hard to believe that Rodriguez had an off night. Nebraska dropped a closer set two 23-25.
Bergen Reilly also had troubles. She missed her location on sets through sets one and two. Set three seemed to be a more fluid offense but there were still missed connections with Andi Jackson late in the match. Penn State targeted her while she was blocking and found success.
Penn State devoted a blocker to both of our middles so every time one of the Husker middles jumped, there was someone jumping with her. PSU middles are talented so that limited the amount of kills that Bekka Allick and Jackson could earn. They were still able to contribute 11 kills for Allick and 9 for Jackson.
Devoting a blocker to a middle also meant is Merritt Beason was left with only one blocker. She took full advantage and earned 27 kills on 54 swings to hit .426 for the night. Beason added three blocks and five digs for an impressive night. Beason has been our rock, and was again tonight. Need a kill? Set Merritt.
Harper Murray had some challenges at the service line, and was hit and miss on the attack early, but came on strong in sets three and four. She hit some an amazing shot to finish set four. She also hit a serve on match point that was gutsy. That serve was hard driven, straight lined and on the PSU player fast. That was a serve to win. When Murray shines, there are few players you’ve ever seen that can do what she does.
This wasn’t beautiful volleyball. There were errors and broken plays. What this was, was gutsy, it was intense and it was a challenge presented and met.
Nebraska plays again on Sunday in Piscataway, NJ against Rutgers. Match time is 12:00 pm CST. The match is streamed on BTN+ and audio on Husker Radio Network.