The fourth-ranked Nebraska volleyball team will hope to improve on their six-game win streak as they host the Husker Invitational this weekend.
Nebraska finished last week with a tough battle against Creighton in a five-set win over the Bluejays and also defeated Iowa State in a quick three-set sweep.
During his press conference Monday, head coach John Cook said he felt good about how the team played against its rising opponents.
“We had two really good matches against two teams,” Cook said. “We worked through nerves and we made jumps as a team in learning how to be in really competitive matches in front of big stages.”
The more the Huskers win and the better they get, the bigger their own stage at the Bob Devaney Sports Center gets and the more people begin to watch Nebraska closer waiting for those mistakes. Nebraska starts the weekend taking on Central Michigan on Friday, Sept. 14 at noon. Nebraska is the first ranked team Central Michigan will face this season, and could be one of its toughest opponents this season. The Chippewas broke their four-game losing streak this past Saturday after defeating Indiana State and head into this tournament with a record of 3-6.
Central Michigan has a hitting percentage of .169, compared to its previous opponents hitting percentage of .239 percent. The Huskers could give them some offensive trouble, as the team is struggling with defense. The stats comparison shows a weaker Chippewa defense and with Nebraska being strong in its offense, it could shake Central Michigan a bit. Central Michigan’s Megan Kern is the team’s leading defensive player, with a total of 109 digs on the season and an average of 3.21 per set. Nebraska senior Kenzie Maloney is the leading defender for the Huskers, averaging just over four digs per set.
Moving into Friday evening, the Huskers take on the New Mexico Lobos. New Mexico sits at 5-4 so far this season and is currently undefeated on the road. The Lobos took down Idaho and North Florida in a pair of close matches away from home. New Mexico’s best offensive player, Victoria Spragg, is hitting .317 on the year and averages 3.53 kills per set compared to Nebraska’s best hitting player, Lauren Stivrins, who is hitting .364 on the season.
Defensively, New Mexico struggles a bit as it only has 493 digs, compared to the 528 it has allowed opponents. The Lobos’ opponents are out-blocking them 87-75 and the Lobos only average 2.03 blocks per set.
But the real challenge for the Huskers is going to be the Missouri State Bears on Saturday night. The Bears are coming off a win at Texas A&M, but Nebraska is the the first ranked team they will face so far this season. Missouri State is hitting .188 on the season and average 12.1 kills per set, compared to its opponents averaging 11.9.
Cook said the Huskers focused on consistency this week and trying to smooth out the inconsistency of ball placement. One thing Cook reiterated to the team the whole season is that you can’t give other teams the opportunity to take the match.
“You better show up,” Cook said. “That’s what I’ve been telling these guys since day one and what we have been trying to instill in our freshmen, you have got to show up. There are no gimmes, especially in the Big Ten.”