Projected high in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday — 13 degrees. By the time Texas and Nebraska get rolling — 9:30 p.m. local time — the temperature outside will likely be somewhere between the teams’ rankings (5 and 2).
Inside Nationwide Arena, however, the Huskers and Horns are expected to bring the heat. This will be the 55th meeting all time between the two programs who did as much as any to spread women’s college volleyball from a West-Coast sport to what it is today. Nebraska has won two straight in the series — including last year’s national championship match and this year’s meeting in the VERT Challenge on opening weekend — but prior to that Texas took five straight from the Huskers.
Neither side was putting much stock in Nebraska’s sweep of Texas back in August.
“Their team’s different. Our team’s different,” John Cook said. “Teams change over time. And so it’s a whole new match. You can’t throw anything really into that first match back in August.”
The biggest difference this time around might be simple experience for the Longhorns. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Micaya White was playing in her second college match back in August. Now she has 30 under her belt, led the Longhorns in kills and earned the Big 12’s freshman of the year award.
“What I remember from that game is I was very nervous, I was very scared, definitely,” White said. “I feel like now I have more confidence. Definitely 30 games in I’m more comfortable playing with my team.”
How the Huskers handle White will be one key matchup to watch on Thursday night, but only one. When these two get together, there are always plenty of enticing individual battles.
“Texas, they’re not that complicated to prepare for,” Cook said. “They have athletes and you have to stop them. It’s not like we have to go reinvent a whole new game plan or do stuff like that.
“It’s just more of making sure our players are understanding what we’re going to deal with and they’re going to do some things we probably can’t stop and try to get them to understand how we can beat them in three games by two points. That’s the mindset.”
The Huskers and Horns will heat things up, hopefully, at 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Putting the D Back in Ducks?
Nebraska’s trip to Oregon next year may have just gotten more interesting. If the Willie Taggart hire hadn’t already made that so, Taggart’s reported defensive coordinator pick just did.
According to multiple reports, current Colorado defensive coordinator and former USF head coach Jim Leavitt will become the Ducks’ DC and may have the highest coordinator salary in the Pac-12.
Colorado’s defense currently ranks 18th nationally in scoring defense, third in pass-efficiency defense and eighth in total yards per play allowed.
The Grab Bag
- ICYMI: A couple more volleyball stories from the Huskers’ practice session Wednesday in Columbus.
- Bill Livingston of Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer looks at Bo Pelini’s return to Youngstown.
- Louisville AD Tom Jurich acknowledged that a member of the Cardinals’ football staff benefited from Wakeyleaks and Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel goes in on Louisville’s athletic department.
- Really good read from Ivan Maisel on the College Football Hall of Fame dinner.
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.