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NU v. Penn St.--October 13, 2018

ColoREDo

REDo posts matter!!!
10 Year Member
I only saw the last half of the 4th set and all of the 5th but the Huskers didn't seem to have any fire in them. I am not sure if it was because of our recent success against PSU or what but they didn't seem to be that excited to be out there.

No need to worry. Cook will have them firing on all cylinders come tourney time.
 

carrolltonsker

Husker Immortal
10 Year Member
Tell me, was our problem, once again, the serve???????????????

I don't think I will have time to watch this match!!! :Cry:!!!
The serve was part of the problem, but both teams struggled with serving. The biggest problem, to me, is that we got gassed and PSU seemed to have more energy. We should have won in 4 sets. We led 19-16 in the 4th set, and then we seemed to look very tired and slow.
 

Undertow

Inactive as of 11-01-2018
A lot of familiar faces are absent from the Cult that is Penn State volleyball progarm. Gone is OH Ali Franitti whose career started back in 2014 as AVCA Freshman of the Year and 2nd Team All-American. The imposing defensive AND offensive presence of All-American MB 6’3” Haleigh Washington is no longer there. And, of course, the thunderous arm and “jump out of the gym” athletic ability of All American OH Simone Lee has graduated to the pros and the Team USA Pan American Volleyball Squad. Even Abby Dettering, the elder part of the “2” in the 6-2 offense that the Nittany Lions ran last year has gone on to play professionally in Europe. Someone said (I didn’t verify this) that 85% of The Cultist offense in 2017 was lost to graduation.

That was a loaded Penn State team. Probably Russ Rose’s best team that never won a National Title. Certainly a more athletic team than the 2017 Huskers. And a team that would have been undefeated and played for the Natty, except for those pesky Huskers. 2 Losses all year. And both to the Big Red. The struggles of this year’s Nebraska team is making me appreciate the consistency of Anika Albrecht, particularly the digging and passing, the “I’ll sell my soul for Nebraska Volleyball” effort of walk-on El Syd Townsend, and especially the enormous advantage to have an experienced, supreme talent at setter like Kelly Hunter.

But this year’s version of the Blue and White is not bereft of talent, just much of it young. They do return a few keys. The other part of the “2” in last year’s 6-2, senior setter Bryanna Weiskircher (the B1G has so much setter talent it is stupid), emotional leader (and sometimes quasi-irritant) libero Kendall White, and redshirt senior outside hitter Nia Reed, who would prove to be something that even the great Simone Lee couldn’t claim-----a Husker Killer.

The first set was sloppy on both sides of the net. The Cultist were probably too jacked up and tried to give the first set away with hitting error after hitting error, but Big Red was unwilling to accept their generosity and instead reciprocated with a combination of errors (service, passing, and, of course, their own hitting) to keep the Lions in the game. Eventually Nebraska was stubborn enough in their refusal to take the obvious gift, they instead bequeathed the Lions set number one 22-25.

Then the Huskers came out in set 2 and, as is in their modus operandi for at least one set a match, played brilliant volleyball. The Husker serving was stepped up intensity wise which led to less accurate passing by The Cultists, which led to better Husker blocking OR better attempts to set the offense in system, resulting in high percentage kills for Big Red. Like many other opponents having to face this onslaught, the Nittany Lions were shell shocked. The 11 points scored by the Blue and White was a new low for set scoring this season. And not just by a little, the previous B1G low was 19 against Minnesota. They scored 20 twice in the loss at Stanford. The other low was 16 points against, of all foes, American University, in a 3rd set that Rose probably had put in too many subs.

Sets 3 and 4 started establishing trends on both teams with each splitting deuce sets. Penn State really started feeding Nia Reed on the outside, and the Huskers initially had limited success in defending her, particularly when Hames rotated to the front. It was like Taryn Kloth from Creighton, all over again. Unfortunately the Husker’s don’t have Anezka Szabo (out for “who knows how long” with a high ankle sprain) to double sub in with Brooke Smith, upgrade the block, and kill some of the Reed momentum. Occasionally Coach Cook would double sub Capri Davis and Smith, but it is not the same. The Lions liked that match up with Reed on Hames so much, that they fed Reed a season high 70 times (the previous high was 47). And while 20 kills is not efficient (other Husker blocking combinations had more success against Reed), it proved to be effective. The other trend that started happening in the 4th (and which continued into set 5), was the Penn State block dramatically improved and started to have a consequence on the match. That happened at the same time that Hames started feeding Sun and Foecke almost exclusively. Coincidence? I think not. Foecke and Sun had 53 and 56 swings respectively. Sweet had 36, and the middles (Schwarzenbach AND Stivrins) had a paltry 28.

After blowing a lead in the 4th quarter, I mean 4th set, the Huskers made mistakes in overtime, sorry, in the 5th set, they hadn’t all game, er----match. 3rd and 1 and the offensive line gets a false start making it 3rd and 6. Sorry – at the start of the set Sweet for some reason shows an affinity for the net she hadn’t displayed all match resulting in net violations and 2 points for the Cultist that were actually won by Nebraska. Literally a 4 point swing (Just an aside. It seems the 50-50 calls all went The Cultist way and a couple of the net violations were pretty ticky-tac-----I know----wah). So instead of two shots at a first down from 1 yard, you end up with a pass reception for 5 yards and a 4th and one. Sorry again---instead of being tied at 8 – 8 midway in the 5th, the Huskers were down 6 to 10. So when you make another mistake by rolling the snap to the quarterback’s feet, panic ensues, you scramble around (out of system) trying to improvise, and end up with a desperation heave resulting in an INT……….and a 9-15 5th set loss.

Before I listened to the radio play by play, I had a list of “concerns” after watching the match on BTN and was curious if Baylor and Lauren Cook had similar takes.

1) The middles were not set enough AGAIN. At this point, I’m going to have to assume this aspect of the offense is not going to develop this year and will have to wait until Hames matures OR feels more comfortable with the middles. Coach Cook placed most of the blame on the poor passing not on Hames.

2) Hames is too predictable on her setting (applies to point 1 also). In the last two matches the block for Indiana AND The Cultist improved as the match wore on. Again, some of that is inconsistent passing and some is a sign of her youth. Not really discussed.

3) Good teams are going to abuse Hames when she is on the front line blocking. Short of Anezka getting healthy, there are really no good options this year to counter this. Hames is unlikely to grow, so she has a choice. She appears to be working on her technique and is getting better, but her high point needs to be higher. She needs more Husker Power time to increase her vertical. They acknowledge it is a weakness, but don’t feel it is that big of a problem. Nebraska is leading the country in opponents hitting percentage is the counter argument.

4) Serving and passing are still inconsistent. If they can correct the serving to where there is constant pressure on the opponents serve receive game, that is probably enough to elevate this year’s team to another level and hide some of its defects. See set 1 against Illinois and set 2 of this match. When the service game is on, all other aspects (blocking, passing, and offensive efficiency) improve. As far as passing, I’ve come to expect that it will come and go with this team. Anika and Sydney are no longer here to provide the consistency. And, to be clear, the passing overall is probably well above average compared to other teams. It just isn’t national championship quality. This is a constant critique of this team, but they didn’t really go much in depth during or after the match. I do know Coach Cook has said in his presser (after the Minnesota match I believe) that he really has come to appreciate what Anika Albrecht brought to the team last year.

When you look at the core fundamentals, the service game was NAILS in set 2, but average to below average in the other sets. Too many service errors which prevented extended service runs for the most part. Probably Stivrins least effective service game in awhile. The block was decent in sets 3 and 4, and the Huskers held a 13 to 10 advantage, but the only time I felt it was having an impact was in set 2 with an assist from a nasty service game. There are some concerns about blocking the attacks from the middle, particularly with Wisconsin and 6’8” Dana Rettke coming up on the schedule. Defensively, aside from the inconsistent passing, I thought the Big Red did a good job of keeping the ball off the floor.

Just to be clear, some of the content is critical of Hames, and I don’t mean it to be a harsh critique of her play. I think she is a stud. I think she will be on the B1G All-Freshman team and get some AVCA All-Region attention. It’s just the difference between senior setters Poulter, Seliger-Swenson, and even Bryanna Weiskircher and freshman setter Hames is noticeable. By the time Hames is a junior, she will be the next in a long line of B1G All-American setters.

In summary, Nebraska got beat by an inferior opponent (who played without one of their better freshman middles) in a 5 set match that lasted nearly 3 hours at Cultist Valley with 5000 people in attendance (another B1G volleyball spectator success story). If Nebraska plays like they did against Illinois, they win in 4. By losing this match, the Huskers are in the unenviable position of winning out to have any chance of a B1G championship and a top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. And the results of this coming weekend (Wisconsin and Minnesota), may adjust the Huskers goals sooner rather than later.

In other B1G action, Minnesota won both their matches against the Illinois schools, including beating the 8th ranked Illini in straight sets. The Cult that is Penn State beat Purdue earlier in the week, so they end the week 2-0 with a couple of excellent wins. Illinois split the B1G Northern Swing by beating Wisconsin 3 -1 (3 sets went deuce including a set that went 35-33) after being swept by the Gophers. Wisconsin also split by beating Northwestern earlier in the week.

Nationally, BYU beat a couple of crappy opponents in their crappy conference AGAIN so they will likely stay at No. 1. Stanford had an impressive week by sweeping both (ranked) Washington schools at home. Texas lost at Kansas in 4 sets on Wednesday, but beat Oklahoma in Norman in 5. Pittsburg beat North Carolina and plays North Carolina State on Sunday. As a point of contrast, the Panthers have played and beat 2 ranked teams (Cal Poly and Washington) all year. Something that several random PAC-12 or B1G teams do every weekend. Creighton won both matches and Cal Poly won their match this week. Florida won their match earlier in the week at South Carolina, but it went 5. In fact the last 3 matches the Gators have played have gone 5 sets. AND they play a competitive Alabama team on Sunday at home.

Likely the top ten will be BYU, Stanford, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Shorthorns, Wisconsin, and Creighton. 11 & 12 will stay the same with Florida and Cal Poly, assuming Florida beats Alabama. Again 13 through 25 will shake out largely based on the results of Sunday’s PAC-12 matches. Kansas will enter the top 25 and Arizona State will likely drop out.
 

BGRed

Starter
15 Year Member
The serve was part of the problem, but both teams struggled with serving. The biggest problem, to me, is that we got gassed and PSU seemed to have more energy. We should have won in 4 sets. We led 19-16 in the 4th set, and then we seemed to look very tired and slow.
Hard to say if we were gassed; but, Penn State had a big home crowd and fed off that energy at the end of the 4th set. Once they got the match to a fifth set, I felt we were in big trouble. Reed was very good most of the match and unstoppable down the stretch.
 

carrolltonsker

Husker Immortal
10 Year Member
Hard to say if we were gassed; but, Penn State had a big home crowd and fed off that energy at the end of the 4th set. Once they got the match to a fifth set, I felt we were in big trouble. Reed was very good most of the match and unstoppable down the stretch.
I felt we were gassed because we started hitting a lot more roll shots in the last two sets. Plus, when we did try to smash the ball, we were getting blocked fairly regularly. We were rarely blocked in the first two sets.
 

Diboy

Recruit
10 Year Member
I felt we were gassed because we started hitting a lot more roll shots in the last two sets. Plus, when we did try to smash the ball, we were getting blocked fairly regularly. We were rarely blocked in the first two sets.
Our setting got predictable on the edges and we were not aggressive with swings in the last two sets. We need to use the middle more on attack or at least show we are willing to do so. The Penn St block got better because they quit defending anything in the middle thus having double blocks on the edges more often.
 
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