Top-Ranked Huskers Sweep No. 2 Texas Again
EUGENE, Ore. – The top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team swept No. 2 Texas, 25-15, 25-16, 25-21, on Saturday at the VERT Challenge in a rematch of last year’s national title match.
The Huskers moved to 2-0 in the 2016 season with two top-10 wins on opening weekend, as NU beat No. 10 Florida, 3-1, on Friday. The Longhorns fell to 1-1.
Nebraska has won 18 straight matches dating back to last season, which included a sweep of the Longhorns in Omaha for the national title in December. The Huskers last swept the Longhorns twice in a row in 2006 and 2007. The last time the Huskers swept a top-two team was second-ranked Stanford in the 2008 AVCA Showcase in Omaha.
Nebraska displayed its depth with five players recording at least seven kills. Kadie Rolfzen had 11 kills and 11 digs while hitting .348, and Amber Rolfzen had 10 kills. Her fellow middle blocker, Briana Holman, had eight kills with no errors for a .727 hitting percentage. They each had three blocks. Andie Malloy had nine kills, and Mikaela Foecke had seven.
Kelly Hunter had 40 assists and a team-high four blocks. Justine Wong-Orantes (12) and Kenzie Maloney (10) combined for 22 of the Huskers’ 48 digs, as the Huskers’ impressive passing was on display throughout the match.
NU outhit Texas .304 to .140 and had a 7-5 edge in blocks. The Huskers once again won the serving battle with seven aces, compared to zero for Texas. Kadie Rolfzen had three of them. Ebony Nwanebu led the Longhorns with 13 kills.
Set 1: Nebraska started strong by taking an 8-3 lead to force an early Texas timeout, but the Longhorns came out of the timeout with a 5-1 run to cut it to 9-8. After a Husker timeout, kills by Amber Rolfzen and Foecke, and an ace by Sydney Townsend pushed the lead to 12-8. After Texas cut the lead to 15-12, NU went on a 4-0 run to go up 19-12 after Malloy unleashed a kill. The Huskers built the lead to 23-14 after a reversed call gave Amber Rolfzen her fourth kill of the set. Amber Rolfzen gave the Big Red set point at 24-15 with another kill, and the Longhorns hit wide to finish the set, 25-15. NU hit .389 in the frame to just .143 for Texas. The Huskers had three aces as well.
Set 2: With the score tied 2-2, Foecke, Malloy and Kadie Rolfzen tallied kills around a Malloy solo stuff to go up 6-2. The Huskers went up 10-3 on back-to-back kills by Amber Rolfzen and another from Malloy. The Huskers used a timeout after Texas ran off three straight points to pull within 11-8, and Hunter and Amber Rolfzen followed with a block to make it 12-8. Texas cut it to 12-10, but Foecke sent a kill to the back line to kickstart a 4-0 run that made it 16-10 Huskers. A kill by Holman and another Texas hitting error, their 11th of the match, padded the lead to 18-11. Holman smashed another kill to make it 19-12, and Kadie Rolfzen sent a kill crosscourt for a 20-14 lead. The Huskers’ floor defense took over late in the set with an impressive display of digs, as NU closed out the 25-16 win with an ace from Annika Albrecht.
Set 3: Texas battled back in the third set, taking a 10-7 lead. NU pulled within one, 11-10, on back-to-back kills by Foecke and Kadie Rolfzen. The Huskers tied it 12-12 on a block by the Rolfzen twins and took their first lead since 2-1 at 14-13 on a Kadie Rolfzen ace. Hunter then hammered down an overpass to make it 15-13 and force a Longhorn timeout. Kadie Rolfzen put home another ace after the timeout for a 16-13 lead. Texas fought back to tie the set, 16-16, but Malloy regained the lead for the Huskers. Holman smashed her seventh kill and then combined with Hunter for a block go up 20-17. The Huskers closed out the sweep, 25-21.
Up Next: The Huskers host the Nebraska Invitational next Friday and Saturday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Nebraska will play Iowa State on Friday at 6 p.m. and Oregon State on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. As part of the tournament, Syracuse will play Oregon State on Friday at 3:30 p.m., and Iowa State will play Syracuse on Saturday at 5 p.m.