EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team topped No. 10 Florida, 3-1 (25-27, 25-15, 25-16, 25-21), to begin the 2016 season at the VERT Challenge at Matthew Knight Arena on the University of Oregon campus on Friday night.
The Huskers (1-0) rallied from a first-set defeat to take the next three sets convincingly for their 17th straight win dating back to last season. The Huskers were balanced offensively with four players recording double-digit kills. Kadie Rolfzen led the charge with 16 kills, seven digs and four blocks. Mikaela Foecke had 15 kills and hit .538 with just one error on 26 attacks. Andie Malloy had 12 kills and six digs, and Briana Holman had 10 kills and a match-high seven blocks in her Husker debut. Amber Rolfzen added seven kills and two blocks.
Setter Kelly Hunter coordinated the comeback with 47 assists, 13 digs, seven kills, two aces and two blocks. Justine Wong-Orantes had a match-high 21 digs.
The Huskers hit an efficient .385 and held Florida to .260 hitting. NU had a 5-1 edge in service aces and 9.5 to 4.0 advantage in blocks. The Huskers also outdug Florida, 68-57.
Alex Holston had 18 kills and nine digs for the Gators. Carli Snyder had 16 kills and 16 digs.
Set 1: Holman began her Husker career with a combo block with Kadie Rolfzen for the game’s first point, and the Huskers bolted out to a 5-2 lead. Florida fought back and took its first lead at 9-8, but a pair of kills by Foecke and Kadie Rolfzen put NU back in front, 11-10. Florida pulled ahead 14-12 and later extended the lead to 19-16. The Huskers sided out four consecutive Gator serves to pull within one each time, but Florida had an answer every time. The Gators earned set point at 24-22, but Kelly Hunter got a kill to keep the Huskers alive. A stuff by Kadie Rolfzen and Holman tied the set, 24-24, and forced a Florida timeout. But Florida was able to finish off the 27-25 set win with a kill and block. The Huskers had 5.5 blocks in the set but committed four service errors.
Set 2: The Huskers settled in and were able to tie the match 1-1 with a dominant 25-15 win. Back-to-back kills by Kadie Rolfzen and Malloy put the Huskers up 5-3 early in the set. An ace by Sydney Townsend pushed the Huskers in front 8-5, and another ace by Hunter made it 10-6 Big Red. Up 11-8, the Huskers found their groove and went on an 8-1 run that put them ahead 19-9. In that run, Malloy had three kills, while Kadie Rolfzen had a kill and an ace, the Huskers’ third of the set. Holman’s second kill made it 23-14, and the Huskers closed out the 25-15 win after a pair of Florida errors down the stretch. The Huskers hit .500 with just one attacking error.
Set 3: The teams engaged in a sideout battle early in the third set until Townsend stepped up to serve with the score tied 6-6. Townsend served her second ace of the night, Hunter followed with a kill, and then a Holman and Foecke block made it 9-6 Big Red. After a Florida timeout, Foecke smashed back-to-back kills for a 6-0 Husker run that made it 11-6. The Huskers stayed in rhythm offensively with Holman adding two more kills for a 13-8 lead. After a scramble, Amber Rolfzen set her twin sister, Kadie, for a kill that put NU up 15-9. Florida pulled within 16-12, but a kill by Amber Rolfzen on the slide and a UF hitting error made it 18-12 Huskers. Hunter and Amber Rolfzen connected again to make it 19-13. Foecke and Holman hammered home back-to-back kills for a 21-14 Husker lead. Malloy gave the Big Red set point with her seventh kill, and Kadie Rolfzen finished off the 25-16 win after a bump set from Kenzie Maloney. The Huskers held Florida to .054 hitting in the third set while hitting .342 themselves.
Set 4: After Florida started the set with an ace, Foecke and Malloy tallied kills, and Kadie Rolfzen and Holman teamed up for a block to give the Huskers the 3-1 edge. Florida tied it 9-9 with two straight points, but Kadie Rolfzen put the Big Red back on top, 11-9, with back-to-back kills. Rolfzen tipped home her 16th kill to make it 12-10, and Hunter dumped home her sixth kill for a 13-11 advantage. Holman tacked on a pair of kills, and an ace by Hunter pushed the Huskers’ lead to 17-13. Malloy joined in the attack with three kills to build the lead to 21-16. Florida pulled within 23-21 but hit long to give the Huskers match point, and NU won the match after Florida went into the net.
Up Next: Nebraska faces No. 2 Texas on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (CT) in a rematch of last year’s national title match. A free live stream will again be provided. Fans can also listen to all the action on Husker IMG Sports Network affiliates and online.