On Saturday night, the Bob Devaney Sports Center played host to the second round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament with The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers playing host to the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. The Huskers moved on to the next round of the tournament, which will also be in Lincoln, 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-16).
Mikaela Foecke got things started for the Huskers with a kill to the middle of the TCU baseline to give Nebraska Huskers the first point of the night. A TCU attack error and Kelly Hunter ace made the score 3-0 Huskers.
TCU took the next point on a ball sailed out of bounds by the Huskers, but the Huskers didn’t let them get any closer. After briefly trading sideouts, Nebraska used a 3-0 run to open a 7-2 lead and force the first Horned Frog timeout of the night.
The timeout did nothing to stem the Husker tide and TCU was forced to use their final timeout of the first set trailing 12-3.
Things got better for the Horned Frogs after the second timeout as a 3-1 run made the score 13-6 with the Huskers still holding the advantage.
The Huskers earned a sideout to make the score 14-6 Big Red, but TCU then put together two more points to make the score 14-8 Huskers.
While TCU didn’t get closer, Nebraska also struggled to put the Horned Frogs away. TCU was still within six at 19-13. Nebraska, however, opened the lead up from there, taking a 22-13 advantage with Annika Albrecht serving.
TCU would not go away quietly in the set, however. Just as it looked like Nebraska was rolling with the momentum to close out the set, up 23-14, the Horned Frogs got their bearings once again and closed the score to 23-18 Huskers, leading to the first Husker timeout of the set.
Nebraska continued to struggle after the timeout, as TCU scored the next two points to close to 23-20 Huskers before Mikaela Foecke gave the Huskers their first set point, 24-20.
That set point was not the end for the Horned Frogs. If Nebraska was going to win this one, they were going to have to earn it, and another two-point streak for TCU made the score 24-22 Huskers, forcing the second, and final, Husker timeout of the set.
In a play that can only be described as rare, if not freak, Kadie Rolfzen’s attack was blocked back into her face and then cleared the net to land in the middle of TCU’s defense, giving the Huskers the point and the set, 25-22.
The Huskers hit a dismal .082 in the set, led by five kills for both Kadie Rolfzen and Mikaela Foecke. TCU had four blocks to Nebraska’s two.
Nebraska started the second set much the same as the first, taking an early 3-0 lead. The Huskers opened the lead early in the set to 5-1, which led to an early timeout for the Horned Frogs.
TCU scored out of the timeout, and then the teams traded points briefly, before TCU closed to 7-5 after scoring two in a row.
Nebraska opened the lead up to five at 11-6, and then took a 16-8 lead when the Horned Frogs took their second timeout of the second set.
Justine Wong-Orantes made the tape her friend, dribbling the first serve after the timeout over the net for an ace.
The Huskers kept rolling, riding an 11-0 run to a 15-point advantage, 23-8. While the set was all but a foregone conclusion, with the Huskers earning their first set point at 24-9, TCU fought to reclaim momentum going into the intermission, and with the score 24-12 Nebraska, the Huskers used their first timeout of the second set.
The TCU serve out of the timeout sailed long and the Huskers took the second set 25-12.
Nebraska hit much better in the second set at .233. Kadie Rolfzen added three more kills to bring her total for the night to eight, hitting .368. Nebraska added five blocks in the set to bring their total for the night to seven. TCU had five blocks through two sets.
The Huskers again started the set with a 3-0, but made it even better in the third, taking a 4-0 advantage and forcing the early TCU timeout.
TCU quickly closed back to 4-2, and then tied the score at five with Andie Malloy getting the kill that ended the 3-0 Horned Frog run.
A second straight kill by Malloy gave the Huskers a 7-5 lead, but TCU tied the score again at seven.
Nebraska finally began to separate from TCU again with Sydney Townsend serving. The Huskers opened the lead to 13-9 at which point TCU used their final timeout of the set.
Mikaela Foecke and Kelly Hunter powered the Husker offense to a 7-0 run that gave the Huskers a 16-9 lead before the Horned Frogs managed to tool the Husker block for a point.
That run ended up being the dagger for the night. TCU scored sparingly thereafter, but the Huskers extended their advantage, ultimately prevailing in the set 25-16.
The Huskers hit .205 to .056 for TCU on the night. The team was led by 14 kills from Kadie Rolfzen who hit .400. Mikaela Foecke added 10 kills to hit .286.
Nebraska outdug TCU 61-57 on the night led by Justine Wong-Orantes’ 24. Kelly Hunter also had 10 digs. The Huskers outblocked TCU 10-8 led by Kadie Rolfzen who was part of seven blocks.
After starting all three sets strongly, the Huskers did not close out any of the sets convincingly on the night, something that is concerning going forward. Next weekend, some of the best teams in the nation will descend on Lincoln for the regionals. At the time of this publishing, matches were still wrapping up, but stumbling through the end of the sets won’t get it done next weekend.
With Penn State, Nebraska, and (theoretically as the match wasn’t finished yet at the time this was published) Washington coming to Lincoln next weekend, nine of the last eleven National Championships will be owned by teams playing in Lincoln.
Look for our preview of the regional matches later this week.