Nebraska volleyball fought past mistakes, miscues and a tough defense to defeat an impressive Omaha team in five sets (16-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-13, 15-7).
Senior setter Nicklin Hames returned for her first match since missing Nebraska’s first two of the season with an ankle injury.
“I’m happy that we won, disappointed with how we played,” she said after the match.
Here are my three takes on NU’s match vs the Mavericks:
Way too many mistakes
Nebraska went through stretches where they could not get out of their own way. Omaha started the first set determined and fired up after having to wait for Georgia to beat Arizona State in the first five-set battle of the day.
Cook said the wait clearly didn’t affect the Mavericks.
In the first set while down 12-8, Nebraska gave UNO five points in the form of two service errors, an out-of-rotation violation, a two-hit violation and a centerline violation.
In the third set after Omaha forced Cook to call a timeout down 8-4, outside hitter Madi Kubik committed a net violation, giving away a very important point. Later, there was a miscommunication and the ball dropped on the ground while three players watched it hit the court.
Nebraska had eight service errors and four of those came in the first set: two from Hames, one from Kubik and another from freshman Ally Batenhorst. Batenhorst played in and started her first game as a Husker on Friday but after a rough set, Cook turned to his more experienced players.
The first and third sets were the two sets Nebraska lost. They won the other three matches with fewer errors and well-rounded offensive and defensive efforts.
“I guess we decided to play great our three games and UNO played great their two games,” Cook said.
Two of Nebraska’s outside hitters played their best games of the season
Junior hitter Kubik and freshman Lindsay Krause both had their best games of volleyball this season during Nebraska’s first game on Friday.
Kubik had a team-high 16 kills with three errors and hit .394, beating her previous season-high by more than .200. She had the most serve receptions on the team with only two errors.
She provided a much-needed spark to Nebraska’s offense. Kubik delivered back-to-back kills to boost the Husker’s lead to 20-12 in the second set. She then scored NU’s last two points to win the set 25-14.
Krause had the best game of her Husker career. She had 12 kills, hit .189, a career-high, and added nine blocks. The Omaha native had a team hit 17.5 points against a team that full of players she either played alongside or against.
“There was 11 Nebraska kids over there that have been losing to Krause and the Nebraska girls for a long time,” Cook said of Krause who won four consecutive Class-B state championships at Omaha Skutt.
“That was also a little stick-it-to-Skutt-day today, so blame Skutt on why they played so well,” he said. “No, (Omaha) played great, but they’re not afraid. Like I said, we were gonna get their best shot and we got it.”
Krause teamed up with middle blocker Kayla Caffey in the fourth and fifth sets, the only ones Caffey played, to assist two blocks in the fourth match and two in the fifth match to earn the 13th and 14th points.
Both Caffey and Krause had four blocks in the fourth set and three in the third set.
While it wasn’t Lexi Sun‘s best game of the season, she did contribute 10 kills (hitting .114) and nine digs.
Hames was a major factor in winning the match
In her season debut, Hames had 118 assists and one block.
Head coach John Cook said he planned to rest Hames and play one set with another setter in the 6-2 system. However, he said his team wasn’t playing well enough for his original plan.
“That was kind of the plan but it wasn’t going very well, we were not in rhythm at all,” Cook said. “UNO made that happen and so I thought our only chance is to try to get a rhythm going and go to a 5-1.”
Caffey had six kills in the final two sets and Cook said that was because Hames is very comfortable setting to her. Hames’s ability to fuel her teammates helped Nebraska.
“It probably helped win us the match,” Cook said. “But she was really shaky coming out and it’s her first game of the year, really. So I thought she was a little shaky, but as the match went on, she got better and better.”
Notes from Georgia vs. Arizona State:
In the 9:00 a.m. game in the Ameritas Players Challenge, Georgia defeated Arizona State in a five-set battle (25-22, 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 15-7).
Opposite hitter Kayla Rivera led the Bulldogs with a hitting percentage of .476 with 13 kills and three errors. Outside hitter Kacie Evans had a team-high 16 kills.
Amber Stivrins, younger sister of Nebraska’s Lauren Stivrins had 15 kills, five errors and hit .294. Amber received some applause from Husker fans when her name was announced before she served.
Arizona State outside hitter Iman Isanovic had a match-high 23 kills on 51 swings, hitting .314. Middle blocker Sage Naves had 13 kills and seven errors.
Nebraska plays Georgia at 6 p.m. on Friday on BTN and Arizona St. at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, that game will be on BTN+.