After another 2-0 weekend, the No. 2 Nebraska volleyball team (16-1 overall, 7-1 in the Big Ten) is poised to ascend back up to the top of the AVCA Coaches Poll on Monday after No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 3 Minnesota each dropped a match over the weekend.
The Golden Gophers knocked off the Badgers on Wednesday before falling to No. 14 Michigan State on Saturday. The Huskers will host both teams this weekend.
Nebraska made short work of Maryland on Sunday afternoon, sweeping the Terrapins 24-16, 25-14, 25-17 with a balanced attack that saw six players finish with four or more kills. As a team, the Huskers out-hit the Terps .429 to .081. Nebraska was dominant at the net defensively, with 12 blocks in the three sets led by Amber Rolfzen’s seven.
Nebraska opened the weekend in Columbus, Ohio, with payback on their minds. No. 19 Ohio State had beaten the Huskers three straight times, including earlier this season. The Huskers jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the intermission and closed it out in the fourth to avenge their only loss of the season with a 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25 victory.
In their previous meeting (and throughout conference play), the Nebraska left sides were largely ineffective. Sophomore Mikaela Foecke and senior Andie Malloy combined for 12 kills and six errors on 44 swings. On Sunday, however, both players finished in double figures in kills as they racked up 21 kills with just seven errors on 59 attacks together. Ohio State setter Taylor Hughes exploited the gaps in the Nebraska defense for 11 kills in round one, but the Huskers held her to just four kills on 13 attacks in round two. In fact, Nebraska’s Kelly Hunter matched Hughes’ 40-asssist, 12-dig four-kill, two-block stat line with 44 assists, 19 digs, three kills and an ace.
The star of the weekend was senior outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen. In seven sets, Rolfzen totaled 30 kills to just two errors on 60 swings and 19 digs. Against the Buckeyes, she posted a season-high 21 kills and 11 digs on .413 hitting.
Nebraska will likely sit alone atop the newest poll when the AVCA releases it on Monday afternoon, but to maintain its grasp on that spot the Huskers will have to be on top of their game when the Golden Gophers and Badgers roll into Lincoln. Before the season, Coach John Cook said winning the Big Ten might be more difficult than winning the national championship. If the Huskers can pull off a weekend sweep, they’ll be in the driver’s seat to accomplish that feat.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.