Iowa came in at 10-5 overall and 2-2 in conference. 4 of their 5 losses have been to ranked teams (Washington, Michigan, Illinois) or teams receiving votes (Colorado). The only real bad loss was to Lipscomb in the first weekend of the season. The wins are over teams that are largely non-descript with three exceptions: Iowa State at Ames (3 – 1), Syracuse also at Iowa State (3 – 2), and Sparty at Iowa City (3 – 0).
Taylor Louis is their senior stud outside hitter, alongside somewhat unheralded Cali Hoye, an emerging junior outside who is coming into her own. The BTN TV crew flashed an impressive stat for Taylor Louis (who spent her first two years at Marquette before transferring). Louis is the current active leader in kills for a career.
The first set was again a display of beautiful volleyball. It seems this team wants the fans to get a glimpse every match of their potential. I don’t recall an attack error and only one service error in the first, and while the block wasn’t that impactful, it wasn’t necessary as the serve and offense rolled the Hawkeyes 25-10. My only minor complaint was the middles weren’t that involved, but considering the efficiency of the outside and opposite hitters, it is difficult to be critical of the choices made by Hames in distributing the ball in that first set.
It is odd how a few inches on the wrong side can change the momentum of the match. In first set, serves were just in or clumsily dug by the Hawkeyes. In the second, Iowa watched at least 4 Husker serves just sail long by inches. Sweet, who didn’t make an attack error in first, made 4 errors from her opposite position trying to attack down the line and just missing wide. If you totaled the amount she was wide on her 4 attacks, I doubt it adds up to a foot. But with the few inches here, and the few inches there, the unforced errors resulted in a flip of the momentum and an Iowa victory in the second set 23-25. The block again was largely non-existent. Another huge factor in the turnaround was the fact the Hawkeyes passed much more effectively than in the first set.
It does appear that the Home team relaxed in the 2nd set after destroying the visitors in the first. This happened also against Michigan State in the 2nd and 3rd sets (25 – 9 followed by 21 – 25). As Coach Cook has said multiple times, this team is not good enough to coast, particularly in this league.
In the third and fourth sets, the Big Red cut back dramatically on the unforced serve and attack errors. The defense came alive and held the Hawkeyes to a negative hitting percentage in the last two sets. The block, while not dominant, did influence play in the final two sets with Stivrins getting 7, Schwarzenbach with 5, and Sweet with 5. It did appear, especially in the fourth set, that Iowa was starting to tire, especially Cali Hoye who had a match high 49 swings. The Huskers cruised in the final two sets, winning comfortably 25-15 and 25-11.
When the foundations are examined, the results are positive, but not excellent. Service aces outpaced service errors 11 – 10 and if you take out the 2nd set errors, it is much more encouraging. Blocking was okay, especially on sets 3 and 4, but the Big Red end up with only a 10 to 8 advantage. Nebraska defense DID shut down Iowa in the last two sets and the hitting percentage for the Black & Gold was a meager .071 for the match.
Offensively, the Four Horsemen of the Volleyball Apocalypse had efficient nights with Foecke hitting .459 (37 attacks, 20 kills), Sweet .300 (30 attacks, 15 kills), Sun .385 (26 attacks, 13 kills), and the Middles .333 (18 attacks, 7 kills). Again, my only equivocation in the offensive attack is to get the middles more attempts, particularly in sets 3 and 4.
A special mention should be given to Hayley Densberger. She had her best match of the season at Illinois and followed up with a good performance tonight. Densberger has really stepped up her service game and her defense, aside from a couple of passing errors back to back in the third set, was solid.
The next evolution for this team is to become more consistent, and avoid relaxing after clubbing an opponent in a set.
Iowa is a borderline NCAA Tournament Team. In the best case scenario, I see this team at 10 -10 in conference at best, and that’s assuming winning AT Indiana and AT Michigan State. That would put the Hawkeyes at 18 – 13 which is probably squarely on the proverbial “bubble.” A major determining factor is how the PAC-12 shakes out. If the PAC-12 puts in 8 to 9 teams, it undoubtedly means teams like Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan State will be on the outside looking in.
In B1G play, nationally ranked Wisconsin (no. 6) defeated Illinois (no. 7) in 4 sets with scores of 21-25, 25-21, 25-23, and 25-18. Minnesota (no. 5) defeated Northwestern in straight sets.
Which brings us to the next opponent the no. 5 Gophers. The only common opponent between Minnesota and Nebraska is the Ducks of Oregon which defeated the Rodentia 3-1 but lost to the Huskers in straight sets. This also begins an ugly portion of the schedule which includes 6 current nationally ranked top 10 teams in 8 games:
Oct 6th vs Minnesota
Oct 10th vs Indiana
Oct 13th @The Cult that IS Penn State
Oct 19th @ Wisconsin
Oct 20th @ Minnesota
Oct 24th @ Ohio State
Oct 27th vs Illinois
Nov 2nd vs The Cultist again, this time in Lincoln
The Fightin’ Schwarzenbachs have their work cut out for them in the next month. But in the immortal words of Colonel Mustard, “Keep the faith.”
[QUOTE LINCOLN, Neb. - The No. 3 Nebraska volleyball team posted a 3 -1 (25-10, 23-25, 25-15, 25-11) win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in front of 8,097 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday night.
Mikaela Foecke had 20 kills and nine digs while hitting .459, Jazz Sweet had 15 kills and Lexi Sun added 13 kills and 13 digs on .385 hitting as the Huskers won their 14th straight match to improve to 14-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. Iowa dropped to 10-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten.
Nebraska had a .373 to .071 hitting advantage, and freshman setter Nicklin Hames had 47 assists and 11 digs.
Kenzie Maloney had 12 digs as the Huskers posted nine more than the Hawkeyes, 50-41. Nebraska served 11 aces, including three by Sun and Maloney, and two each by Maloney, Hayley Densberger and Lauren Stivrins. Callie Schwarzenbach and Stivrins led the team with five blocks each.