Volleyball can be ruthless. That’s how things felt in the immediate aftermath of Nebraska’s loss to Texas on Thursday night and that’s how it feels now about nine hours later.
Nebraska, which spent 12 of 15 weeks as the top-ranked team in the country and won the rugged Big Ten, is headed home. It feels shocking, but it probably shouldn’t. The sport is sort of built this way — fast paced, ton of action, small margins. Unlike opening-gun-to-final-gun sports, volleyball is five different races. It always resets, so you felt like the mighty Huskers were just one good run away from changing the momentum of the match.
But not this time. Here is what a few others were writing after the Longhorns’ win:
For the Nebraska-born Rolfzens, this was a tough way to finish their careers. But Kadie said last year’s NCAA title, won in Omaha, Nebraska, and this year’s Big Ten title are still wonderful highlights for her to always remember.
Kadie seem very determined not to cry during the postmatch news conference, and almost made it. Until she was talking about how she grew up watching the Huskers and her idol, Jordan Larson, play and how great it was to have had the chance to wear Nebraska red.
“Dang it,” she said as tears started to come. “I’ve always wanted to come here, and these last four years are the best years of my life.”
All in all, it seemed Nebraska (31-3) had what it took to do what no Husker team had done. Cook’s crew badly wanted that feather. But the Huskers were out-of-kilter. They couldn’t sustain momentum. Even Wong-Orantes wasn’t herself. She was called for a double hit in the second set. Something just wasn’t right.
There will be some confusion as we ponder this loss. What in the world happened? After all, this was the Nebraska team that dominated Pac-12 champion Washington last weekend in the Lincoln Regional final.
This was the Husker team that provided us with one of the school’s best sporting memories of all time with its rally to oust Penn State in the regional semifinals.
Texas controlled much of the third set, but twice had to hold off a Nebraska rally. The Longhorns put together short scoring spurts after Nebraska pulled within 16-15 and 19-18, and were able to keep the Huskers at arm’s length. Morgan Johnson’s fourth kill ended the match.
Collins led the Longhorns with 37 assists. Johnson registered seven blocks, and White contributed a solid stat line of seven kills, eight digs and five blocks. Nebraska was led by Mikaela Foecke’s 13 kills.
“In the timeouts, we were just talking about (how) we can’t be satisfied with the score,” said senior Nicole Dalton, the last remaining member of Texas’ 2012 title team. “We just kept talking about being relentless, and the coaching staff did a really good job of keeping us composed.”
The Grab Bag
- Sort of strange to say it, but Jordan Westerkamp’s career as a Husker is over after suffering a knee injury this week. More from practice here.
- Football players at Minnesota announced they are boycotting all football activities after 10 teammates were suspended this week. ESPN reports that Northern Illinois would replace the Gophers in the Holiday Bowl if Minnesota elects not to play.
- The group of teams that receiving game plan information on Wake Forest continues to grow.
- Grading the recent college football hires and the best and worst coaching bargains in football.
- The Big Ten tops CBSSports.com’s end-of-season conference rankings.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.