Big Red Review: Huskers sweep Creighton

Coming off the AVCA Showcase where it was a mixed bag for the Huskers, the Creighton Bluejays came to town. Creighton, at one time little more than a warm-up for the Big Red, has become a more competitive team as of late. Across the board Nebraska still far outgunned the Jays, but in our breakdown of the match, you can see the Jays did their best to capitalize on Husker mistakes.

Set 1

            Serving long seemed to be the new trend for the Husker Volleyball team as they hosted Creighton at the Coliseum on Tuesday night. The Husker's tied with Creighton in serving errors with three in the first set. The team chemistry seemed to be on target as the red and white saved some points with scrappy play and hustle. One of the best plays of the set came early as the Huskers rallied for their eighth point. It wasn't unusual to see hitters setting and setters hitting in order for them to gain this point. They eventually won, putting them at an early two point lead. The Blue Jays put up some strong blocks that the Huskers couldn't respond to, but Nebraska's Brooke Delano dominated with aggressive attacking. Delano racked up a .833 hitting percentage only missing one of her attempts placing her as the most outstanding player of the set. She earned the team six points followed by five from Tara Mueller. Nebraska led Creighton the entire set and won with a final score of 25-19.

           

Outstanding Player: Brooke Delano

 

Set 2

           Six serving errors haunted the Huskers in the second set as they let the Blue Jays creep closer and closer to a set win. Tara Mueller started off the second set with a round of huge kills and blocks earning her a hitting percentage of .389. Mueller led in the majority of the Huskers' stats and earned her team 5.5 points. One person missing on the court was senior middle blocker, Kori Cooper. Cooper stood on the sidelines cheering on her team and was occasionally on an exercise bike loosening up a knee injury she received last year. Jordan Wilberger stepped in against Creighton to take Cooper's place and proved that she is extremely effective as a middle blocker. Head Coach John Cook was thankful that Wilberger's talent allowed Cooper some flexibility during matches to rest her knee. "I just don't want to have her be in there fatigued and get hurt, that's what I'm worried about. Kori will go all out, that's the problem," Cook said.  Lindsey Licht struggled in this set to get her attacking over Creighton's blockers while libero, Kayla Banwarth, served as the target Creighton wanted to stay away from. Alongside Banwarth in the back row, newcomer Megan Pendergast

Wilberger led all starters with a hitting
percentage of .467

played excellent defense and seemed to be running all over the court to save the ball. She was essential to the Huskers' set-two defense. Nebraska took the second set, 25-23, after losing focus on the game towards the end.

           

Outstanding Players: Tara Mueller & Jordan Wilberger

Outstanding Off-Bench Player: Megan Pendergast

Set 3

            The third set started out with a tremendously long rally in which the Huskers handled the ball perfectly. After multiple bump, set, spikes from Nebraska, the point ended in a sloppy net violation from Creighton. Setter, Sydney Anderson, was the most diverse player of the set. Not only was her setting on target, but her attacking and offensive play was as well. She slammed down three kills for the set and ended with a .400 hitting percentage. Anderson was constantly on her toes while on defense and managed to see open spots on the court which she took advantage of by simply dumping the ball over. By exploiting Creighton's weak spots, Anderson was able to help the Huskers' dominate the third set. Creighton's fundamental errors help add to Nebraska's lead but there was some miscommunication that sent the Huskers' fighting for the last point. After letting two set points get away, Wilberger ended the match on a positive note with a huge kill from the middle position giving the Huskers the game, 25-16. "I'm learning things about the game I didn't know before. Especially how the past dictates where the ball will go so when you learn about setter tendencies, you catch on," Wilberger explained.

Outstanding Player: Sydney Anderson

Overall

            Coach Cook said it perfectly when he commented on the game's outcome, "I think we did some great things tonight and I think we did some bonehead things tonight." The biggest struggle fundamentally for Nebraska was serving. In all, the Huskers' lost nine points to service errors and in a close game, those nine points are crucial. The hustle from the Huskers' was outstanding compared to last weekend's games against Michigan and Minnesota. No balls hit the floor without someone diving to get it and it really seemed that they were out to give it their all. The freshmen players, Pendergast and Werth, seemed much more confident after getting their first game jitters out and were influential both at the net and on defense. Nebraska plans to rotate many of their players in the upcoming conference games so new starting line-ups will be in the works.

           For this young team, there is much to work on to be competitive against this season's tough opponents. Tuesday night also served as a record breaker for the Husker Volleyball team. It marked the highest consecutive home winning streak in NCAA history at 88 wins. When asked about how it feels to be part of this record, Kayla Banwarth simply said "It's your teammates and relationships that make the memories. That will be closer to our hearts than all the records are." Nebraska hasn't lost a home game since 2004 and doesn't plan to make this year any exception. "I think this team has a lot of potential to really improve. I think we could be two months sitting here now and think, wow this team is good," Cook concluded. The Husker Volleyball team will compete against Tulane, LSU, and UL-Lafayette in the LSU Tournament this weekend in Baton Rouge.

 

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