The No. 9 Nebraska volleyball team heads to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in Nebraska’s first unranked match since Oct. 10 against Indiana. Both teams are currently on a losing streak and neither team will want to drop this match.
Nebraska heads into its fourth consecutive road match by facing Ohio State on a three-game losing streak, all to ranked opponents. The Huskers are 3-3 in away matches and head coach John Cook hopes to change that record.
“It’d be nice to have gotten a win at some point in the last three matches,” Cook said. “But we got to learn from that and understand the level we have to play to finish matches, and we get another shot on Wednesday.”
The team is working on building confidence and coming back from the losses. Cook said he feels the team is persistent and won’t let a tough schedule get in the way of that. He tells the team it is a point-to-point mentality and the team will need to understand how strong they have to play. When asked during the press conference on Monday if the the losses will affect the confidence of the team, Cook said the losing streak only seems to motivate them.
“I think it will make this group more determined and understand the level they have the play at,” Cook said.
Outside hitter Mikaela Foecke seems to be driving the Huskers forward. Foecke dominated hitting last season, but this year has helped the team in other ways. She leads the team in attacks, kills, points, attack receptions and serving.
Foecke is third on the team in digs, with 2.52 per set, and leads the team in serving with 29 service aces this season. The senior from West Point, Iowa, is hitting .301 on the season and averaging 3.65 kills per set.
Two others high up on the hitting list are middle blockers Callie Schwarzenbach and Lauren Stivrins. Both Schwarzenbach and Stivrins are dominating on defense, but also average 1.01 and 2.00 kills per set, respectively.
Stivrins helps the team out in more than just her role as a starting middle blocker. The sophomore is hitting .379 on 293 total attacks with only 39 errors. Stivrins has 150 kills so far this season and has accounted for 211 of Nebraska’s points.
The Buckeyes sit at 12-10 this season and are currently on a two-game losing streak. Ohio State holds a 3-7 conference record and suffered its most recent loss to No. 17 Purdue, getting swept in three sets.
Ohio State opposite hitter, Vanja Bukilic, leads the team in kills, with 240 on the season, and averages three kills per set. With a total of 528 attacks in 80 set appearances, she also has the most errors on the team, with 102 this season.
The Buckeyes average 0.5 more kills per set than their opponents and earned 121 service aces on the year, 10 more than their combined opponents.
Compared to Ohio State, the Huskers average 2.1 more kills per set and have hit 129 service aces on the year.
Even with the most losses since 2014 and the potential of Ohio State keeping up with the Huskers, Cook said he feels his team can bring back the championship mindset and take on the rest of the season.
“It is a grind and it’s a point-by-point mentality, and now we have to have that for the next five weeks,” Cook said. “We can talk about it all we want, but until you go through it, you don’t understand.”
Game time is 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Columbus, Ohio, with coverage of the game on BTN Plus.