Three Huskers helped guide the United States Junior National Team to its highest finish at the FIVB U20 World Championship since 2011 over the weekend.
Team USA, featuring freshman outside hitters Ally Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause and libero Lexi Rodriguez, took fifth place in Belgium with a 6-2 overall record.
Batenhorst, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter from Houston, Texas, was second on the team in kills behind only reigning AVCA National Freshman of the Year Emily Londot from Ohio State. Batenhorst finished ninth among all players in the 15-team field with 85 kills. She started every match and also led the team with nine aces. After a hot start, her efficiency trailed off a bit as the tournament went on, but the experience should serve her well as she prepares to step into the best conference in college volleyball.
Krause, the Omaha Skutt product, provided a spark off the bench, appearing in every match and recording 36 kills on .316 hitting plus eight blocks.
Rodriguez served as the team’s starting libero throughout the tournament and led USA in digs.
After going 3-0 in preliminary pool play to advance to the top bracket, Team USA opened the second round of pool matches with a 3-1 win over Brazil on Tuesday (25-22, 27-29, 25-20, 25-14). Batenhorst recorded 11 kills, nine digs, two blocks and two aces. Krause added five kills on nine swings. Rodriguez matched Batenhorst with nine digs.
However, the Americans suffered their first defeat on Wednesday, dropping a 3-1 result to Russia less than a week after beating Russia in four sets in their first match of the tournament. Batenhorst led Team USA again with 12 kills, two blocks and an ace. Krause added six kills, but the duo combined for 10 attack errors. Rodriguez led the team with seven digs.
Team USA wasn’t able to bounce back in its last pool play game, falling to Netherlands in five sets (15-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 10-15). Batenhorst finished with five kills, her lowest total of the tournament, as Londot shouldered the load offensively with 17 kills. She notched two service aces and had three attack errors as well. Krause added eight kills on 19 attempts, misfiring three times, and Rodriguez recorded 10 digs.
The 1-2 record dropped Team USA into the fifth-place bracket. The Americans swept the Dominican Republic on Saturday, winning 25-22, 25-15, 25-18. Batenhorst had six kills on 12 swings with two errors. Krause chipped in three kills and an error on five attempts.
The fifth-place match against Poland went the distance, but Team USA overcame a slow start to pull out the win 14-25, 18-25, 25-16, 29-27, 15-13. Krause cracked double figures again with 12 kills, but she also had nine errors and hit just .075. Krause had six kills and just one error on 13 attempts while Rodriguez posted 18 digs.
With their national team duties now completed, the trio can turn their attention towards preparing for their first season at Nebraska. The first chance for fans to see the new Huskers in person will be the Red-White Scrimmage, set for Aug. 21. Tickets went on sale on Thursday.
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.