LINCOLN, Neb. – The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team bounced back from a first-set loss to defeat Creighton 3-1 (23-25, 25-13, 27-25, 25-18) Saturday night in front of 8,249 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. NU finished the Ameritas Players Challenge unbeaten and improved to 9-0 on the season with a perfect non-conference record.
Kadie Rolfzen was named the most valuable player of the tournament with a full stat line – 17 kills, 13 digs and a career-high nine blocks. She was one block shy of posting Nebraska’s first triple-double since 2002. Rolfzen carried the Huskers in the fourth and final set with eight kills on .571 hitting to lift the Huskers to their 25th win in a row.
Briana Holman, an all-tournament team pick, had 11 kills and three blocks, while Mikaela Foecke and Andie Malloy also added 11 kills.
Justine Wong-Orantes had a season-high 22 digs and four set assists to earn all-tournament team honors. Kelly Hunter had 47 assists and seven digs.
Nebraska held a .245-to-.131 hitting advantage. The Huskers posted a season-high 14 blocks with Kadie Rolfzen and Amber Rolfzen each recording nine.
Creighton (6-6) got 12 kills from Lincoln Pius X graduate Lauren Smith. Jaali Winters had 11 kills but hit just .038 against the Big Red.
Set 1: A kill by Malloy and solo stuff by Amber Rolfzen gave the Huskers a 5-4 lead, and Holman and Foecke hammered back-to-back kills to make it 10-6 and force a Bluejay timeout. Creighton pulled within 12-11, but a kill by Holman and stuff by the Rolfzens pushed the lead to 14-11. An outstretched one-handed dig by Annika Albrecht helped set up Foecke for a kill that made it 17-14. A kill by Holman and Bluejay hitting error gave the Huskers a 21-18 edge, but Creighton came out of a timeout with back-to-back kills from Winters to pull within 21-20. After a Husker timeout, an ace by Megan Ballenger tied the set, 21-21. NU went back up 23-21 before Creighton came back to tie it again. An ace by Winters out of a timeout gave the Bluejays set point, 24-23, and a Husker block error ended the set in favor of the Jays, 25-23. It was the Huskers’ first set loss since the opening set of the season, snapping a streak of 24 straight sets won.
Set 2: The Huskers also dropped the first set to Creighton at the Devaney Center in 2014 before rallying to win 3-1, and they were ready to do the same again, striking for a 4-0 lead in set two on a Hunter ace. Back-to-back kills by Holman and Kadie Rolfzen increased the lead to 9-3 to force a Creighton timeout. Amber Rolfzen tacked on another kill, and the twins combined for another block to make it 12-4. Nebraska turned to Foecke for two more kills as it built an 18-8 advantage. Holman’s seventh kill gave the Big Red set point, and NU won its second set point, 25-13. The Huskers responded from their .258 hitting in set one to hit .400 in set two. Nebraska had four blocks in the set and held Creighton to .114 hitting.
Set 3: Nebraska went up 6-2 before Creighton answered with a 7-0 run to take a 9-6 lead. A swing by Malloy ended the run, but the Bluejays bounced back to a 14-10 lead. A service error and Holman/Kadie Rolfzen stuff pulled NU within two, and Malloy swung the Huskers back within one, 14-13. After a Creighton timeout, Kadie Rolfzen continued the run with her eighth kill. NU took a 16-15 lead after Creighton hit long, and another CU error made it 17-15. The Jays came right back with three straight points – two on blocks by Taryn Kloth and Lauren Smith – to go up 18-17. The Rolfzen twins combined for another block to tie it 18-18, and Foecke blasted a back-row set to put NU ahead 21-20. Creighton went back in front, 22-21, after two Big Red errors. The Jays gained set point at 24-22 before Foecke kept the Huskers alive with a kill. Kadie Rolfzen killed a bump set by Wong-Orantes to even the set, 24-24. Smith regained set point for Creighton with a kill after a timeout, but the Jays served long. A block by Amber Rolfzen and Malloy earned NU its first set point at 26-25, and the pair teamed up again for a stuff to give NU the 27-25 win. Amber Rolfzen had four blocks in the set, as NU increased its match total to 12.0. The Huskers needed their defense to come up big to take the set. They hit .100 but held Creighton to .073.
Set 4: Kadie Rolfzen took over for the Big Red, hammering five kills to get Nebraska level at 13-13. Nebraska took a 15-14 lead on an important challenge win, as the officials overturned a Creighton kill by ruling the ball went long. After a pair of Creighton hitting errors, the Huskers held a 17-15 lead. The Jays tied the set twice before Kadie Rolfzen blasted her 15th kill for a 19-18 lead. Rolfzen’s kill and Kenzie Maloney’s serving put the match away as NU went on a 7-0 run to finish the match. Kadie Rolfzen scored the final three points on two kills and a block.
Up Next: The Huskers begin Big Ten play on the road next weekend. NU will play at Michigan on Friday at 6 p.m. (CT) and at Michigan State on Saturday, with a time to be announced early in the week.
Kadie Rolfzen, Nebraska (MVP)
Justine Wong-Orantes, Nebraska (Best Libero)
Briana Holman, Nebraska
Marysa Wilkinson, Creighton
Lauren Smith, Creighton
Paige Folger, Gonzaga
Natalie Passeck, Montana State