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Illinois v. Nebraska--October 27th, 2018

weaver75

Special Counsel
5 Year Member
All 5 of our recent losses have come at teams ranked in the top 10 and may be are one of the top 6 or 7. Having a talented but freshman setter for the first time ever was going to cause growing pains this year, especially losing our assistant coach. Stivrins and Schwarzenbacher are great to build around. And in volleyball there is always at least one surprise transfer. Let’s worry now about getting it together for a run to the final four this year.
 

Undertow

Inactive as of 11-01-2018
What a difference a month of high level competition makes. Unfortunately, it appears that the veteran ladened team with the senior setter has made more progress than the team with a bunch of newcomers. That’s counterintuitive……You would think that the larger upside would belong to the younger team, but my eyes and ears have to testify to the opposite. And now that this is the 5th loss in 7 matches, now that teams are in the stretch run in conference play, seeds of doubt start to creep in on how high the ceiling actually is for the Big Red.

Illinois came away with a 27-29, 25-19, 27-25, and 25-22 victory in Lincoln. A highly entertaining match with extended rallies and fantastic defensive play (bodies were flying everywhere). A month earlier, the Huskers left Champagne with a much more convincing win over these same Illini. The biggest difference in Illinois is the forementioned defensive play. They matched the Huskers in keeping the ball off the floor, sometimes miraculously so. Both sides put pressure on the opposition by constantly digging attacks and upping drops. Big Red had a serving advantage (less errors than Illinois), but both teams were aggressive in the service game. Where the Huskers had a decided advantage in blocking on September 29th, that aspect was a draw last night. The play of the middles reversed itself. I wrote back in September that Bastianelli was clearly the 3rd best middle blocker on the floor. Last night, she showed why she is an All-American. Illinois DID exploit the one weakness Nebraska has on defense, and constantly pounded the area that Hames was slated to block in when she rotated to the front row. Much like Reed of Penn State, they fed Quade to attack over the smaller Hames. And while the hitting percentage for Quade was pretty ho-hum at .171, when she takes 82 swings at that percentage, it proves to be effective, particularly when you factor in the difficulties the Huskers were having closing out on offense.

For only the second time this season, I thought the better team was the opposition, not the Huskers. The first set, I thought Nebraska was in control and was perplexed (annoyed?) it took them eight set points to close it out. After that, it seemed the Illini were in control though Nebraska had two set points in the 3rd set. The delta wasn’t a lot, but the difference was a senior setter able to “better the set” more often than her opponent, and the advantage of having a taller block when the setter rotated to the front row.

The Huskers played a great game defensively----both teams did. Just to give an example of how “different” it is in the B1G as opposed to other ranked teams and leagues, the Nebraska-Illinois match went 4 sets and had nearly 200 digs between the two teams. 10th ranked Creighton just played 18th ranked Marquette in the Big East, also in a 4 set match, and the total number of digs was in the 140s. Defensively, this Big Red team may be as good as last year’s team. A lot of credit needs to go to Maloney for that. They don’t pass nearly as well, but they keep the ball off the floor in similar fashion to the 2017 National Champs.

Offensively, it doesn’t appear that Hames is improving substantially setting wise. Coach Cook is more likely to blame poor passing, but the Illini were having all sorts of problems passing, yet Poulter was able to “better the set” often despite this. There were multiple sets by Hames where the pins and middles could do little with it. This is the 2nd game in last 4 where the Huskers hit below .100. Now Hames has improved her service game and defense, but her blocking and, more importantly, setting abilities have not substantially increased since B1G play started. But that is the difference between having a senior setter like a Poulter or Kelly Hunter and a true freshman setter.

Sun and Sweet are having problems putting attacks away against better teams. Schwarzenbach is too inconsistent a force on offense. Is that because of lack of attempts or because she also is a true freshman? Stivrins continues to play at a high level but is hampered by lack of attempts or poor sets. Yesterday for every 5 slides they tried, 2 sets were solid that Stivrins could crush, 3 were off where Stivrins could do very little but try and drop it or just push it over. It shouldn’t be this way. There is more offensive talent than last year, but it is underperforming. With the blocks becoming bigger and more athletic, in the future Coach Cook may need rethink the speed of the offense. While quicker sets may be higher error, at some point you have to account for the fact that against really good teams in the B1G, offensively you’re hitting closer to .100 than .200.

In B1G play, 17th ranked Purdue, beat The 4th ranked Cult That is Penn State. The B1G Northern Teams traveled to Michigan and swept both Big Blue and Sparty. The Michigan – Wisconsin match was a good one and did go 5 sets. So to summarize the B1G ranked teams, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue won both matches. Nebraska and Penn State went 1 -1 with the Huskers losing to a top 10 team in 4 and the Cultists losing to a top 20 team in 5. Michigan went 0-2 losing to top 7 teams.

Nationally, BYU, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Texas, and Creighton all won this week. Pittsburgh and Stanford each have a game today to complete the week. As mentioned earlier, Creighton beat Marquette to open up a 2 game lead in the Big East and likely locked up the championship. Cal Poly at 11 lost to Hawaii in Big West Conference play. Florida and Kentucky won earlier this week and also have games to play today.

I don’t know if Nebraska will drop out of the top 10 or not. I don’t think they will AND I don’t think Creighton jumps them. My guess at a Top Ten are BYU, Stanford, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, Penn State, Nebraska, and Creighton. Cal Poly was 11 and since they play in a crappy conference, I think they drop to at least 15 and maybe further. Even though Michigan lost to teams in the top 10, I think the SEC teams jump them at 11 and 12 with Michigan at 13 and (it wouldn’t surprise me) Purdue at 14. 15 through 25 will again be largely determined by what happens in the PAC-12 today,

Finally, it is disappointing to see some of the hyperbolic commentary from the football forums start to infect the volleyball threads. Hopefully this is a one off, and the “HYPERBOLICS” will retreat back to football. The reality is that this Nebraska team is a good team not a great team. Probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the conference, which makes it the 7th or 8th best team in the country even with its offensive struggles. The Friday match coming up will tell if that statement is accurate or not. Because this team is so good defensively, when they struggle offensively, they probably get eliminated in the sweet 16 or regional finals, depending on the draw come Tournament time. When the offense is clicking, which we’ve seen evidence of, they are a final four team still.

Next for Nebraska is the Cult That is Penn State. The Cultists are coming off a loss to Purdue. Big Red gave one away at Cultist Valley. The Fightin’ Schwarzenbachs don’t squander this match at home and win it in 4.
 
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Ackos

Heisman
15 Year Member
Ill came into this match playing loose, and having fun. NU was tight and played that way.
 

Ackos

Heisman
15 Year Member
Sun and Sweet are having problems putting attacks away against better teams.

Coach Cook mentioned that Sun hasnt adjusted to big10 vb yet. At UT (in the much weaker big12) Sun was able to routinely blow throw opponent blocks. Sun has found out that you dont blow through blocks in the big10, and needs to make adjustments to her game.
 

CrnhskrBob

Husker Immortal
15 Year Member
All 5 of our recent losses have come at teams ranked in the top 10 and may be are one of the top 6 or 7. Having a talented but freshman setter for the first time ever was going to cause growing pains this year, especially losing our assistant coach. Stivrins and Schwarzenbacher are great to build around. And in volleyball there is always at least one surprise transfer. Let’s worry now about getting it together for a run to the final four this year.
On the other thread, that's about what I said. :thumbsup:
At least in the case of putting it all together to make a successful tourney run. :)
 

CrnhskrBob

Husker Immortal
15 Year Member
Sun and Sweet are having problems putting attacks away against better teams.

Coach Cook mentioned that Sun hasnt adjusted to big10 vb yet. At UT (in the much weaker big12) Sun was able to routinely blow throw opponent blocks. Sun has found out that you dont blow through blocks in the big10, and needs to make adjustments to her game.
No surprise, as this is the B10!!! No other conference can approach the quality of the B10!!
 
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