Senior Kelsey Robinson and freshman Kadie Rolfzen finished Wednesday’s match against Iowa with two service errors each and combined for six of Nebraska’s 10 total attack errors. But the contributions they left with their successful kills overshadowed any type of offensive flaw.
The two outside hitters combined for 22 kills Wednesday night to help No. 13 Nebraska sweep the Hawkeyes (10-11, 1-8 Big Ten) 3-0. The 25-19, 25-21, 25-8 win improved Nebraska’s season record to 14-4 and Big Ten record to 7-2.
After dropping its second conference loss to No. 25 Purdue on Saturday, coach John Cook said he was pleased with the way his team bounced back Wednesday night.
“Any win in the Big Ten is a great win,” he said after the match. “We started off well, then got on a low there. We made some nice adjustments after game two. … We started playing Husker volleyball in game three, which was good to see.”
Entering the match, the Hawkeyes were on a high from winning their first Big Ten match Saturday against Indiana. They trotted onto the court seeking to capture two conference wins in a row for the first time since October 2012. However, the home team had different plans in mind.
In a first set in which the Huskers made four attack errors, the Huskers made light of Iowa’s seven team miscues to win 25-19. Robinson and freshman Amber Rolfzen led the Huskers with five kills and three kills, respectively.
After hitting just .070 in the first set, Iowa bounced back in the second game, striking with a .323 percentage.
Junior setter Mary Pollmiller began game two with her second kill on the night to give the Huskers the early momentum. Nebraska would go on a 12-7 run before forcing Iowa to use its first timeout of the set. However, the brief pause in action didn’t faze the Huskers, as they won three more points before the Hawkeyes called their second timeout.
Sophomore middle blocker Cecilia Hall would strike back with two kills to extend Nebraska’s lead to 17-9. But the Hawkeyes slowed down their counterparts by answering with a pair of kills and an ace serve by Rachael Bedell to force Nebraska to use its first timeout of the set. The senior outside hitter tacked on three more kills to narrow the Huskers lead to 21-17.
However, the late surge would be too little too late. Kadie Rolfzen hit three consecutive kills to extend the Huskers lead to five. Her sister, Amber Rolfzen, put the nail in the coffin with the set’s last kill to head into game two with a 2-0 advantage.
After being on the losing end of its home match last Saturday against the Boilermakers, Nebraska knew it would have to use what they learned in practice this week to secure its seventh conference win, Robinson said.
“I think we made a lot of adjustments going into the third game,” the senior said. “That’s when we picked up our defense the most.”
After allowing Iowa to hit .300 points higher in game two, the Husker defense came alive in the third set, combining for six blocks to hold the Hawkeyes to a -.077 offensive performance.
“We held them to the lowest any Big Ten team’s held them to this year,” Cook said. “We’re pleased about that, and that was our goal tonight.”
But it wasn’t the defense alone that stole the show in game three.
“I think the way we played game three is how we can play volleyball,” Cook said.
After jumping out to an 17-4 lead, Robinson punched in her first service ace on the night to extend Nebraska’s lead to 15. And the outside hitter wasn’t done. The senior finished the set with three service aces.
With the team heading to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 24 Ohio State Friday, Robinson said improving her serving was a goal in boosting her and the team’s confidence in conference play.
“It was fun because I feel like I’ve been struggling with my serve,” Robinson said. “It was fun to get a run and go after it. We’re excited to play Ohio State and get a good road win.”