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BERTRAND: NU volleyball loss prepares team for tougher games

  • Eric Bertrand
  • 0

It’s tough to lose in any facet of life, but it happens.

The Texas Longhorns handed the Nebraska volleyball team its second loss of the season in a back-and-forth five-set battle. In the competition, the Huskers showed they are capable of contending with the “big dogs” of the NCAA.

In my mind, the loss only helps the Huskers.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some facts.

To start, the Longhorns are the reigning NCAA champions. Not to mention, they are a team that has already knocked off two Big Ten Conference opponents, No. 1 Penn State and No. 24 Illinois (also in five sets).

The Huskers are a part of the “Texas facing Big Ten teams” trend.

The current Longhorn roster looks almost identical to last season’s. Almost.

Texas had only one senior on the roster during its championship run a year ago, utility player Sha’Dare McNeal. Now they have four.

One new addition for the Longhorns is freshman Chiaka Ogbogu, who, in only her second start, showed promising potential against the Huskers. The 6-foot-2-inch middle blocker recorded six block assists in her first match, a week before notching another seven against the Huskers.

And Ogbogu is not the only blocking threat on the Longhorn squad.

Another middle blocker, sophomore Molly McCage tallied more than 100 blocks during her freshman year. McCage has already recorded 32 block assists and three solo blocks so far this season.

Hence the reason the Huskers were out-blocked 16-9 on Sunday.

The Longhorns’ blocking numbers also add to the errors in the Huskers stats.

The Huskers finished the match with 30 attacking errors, but the Longhorns’ 16 blocks count as attacking errors for Nebraska. Without them, Nebraska’s total attacking errors on Sunday would be 14.

That’s not as daunting as 30.

Now let’s move into some offensive elements.

Although the Longhorns had a better hitting percentage on the day compared to Nebraska, .232 to NU’s .223, the Huskers out-killed Texas 73 to 62.

This should start to become a trend in Husker matches as they are seventh in the nation in kills-per-set, averaging 14.88.

Nebraska saw four players record double-digit kills on Sunday, senior Kelsey Robinson leading the way with 26.

Another encouraging sign was the leadership late in a game.

When the game got close, Robinson, a captain, stepped up for the team and took control. Nine of Robinson’s kills came with five points remaining in the set.

The late surge of offense isn’t the only uplifting characteristic of the loss.

The young Husker squad kept the game close against a proven competitor. The final score was 20-25, 25-19, 27-25, 21-25, 15-12. And there were 16 lead changes throughout the competition. The score was tied 44 times. Like I said, it was a back-and-forth battle.

The Texas players even commented on the see-saw match.

“We made a great play and made a great swing and they pick it back up,” McCage said in a press conference after the match. “It’s hard against a team like that.”

In my eyes neither team separated themselves in the match. It really did come down to the wire.

The Huskers know where things went wrong, and they will be working on fixing their mistakes in preparation for Big Ten play. Take this for what it is: a loss, so move on.

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