Nebraska volleyball won their first match of the NCAA Tournament with a sweep over Hofstra in Lincoln. Next up for the Huskers: the Missouri Tigers.
The NCAA Tournament is underway and Nebraska volleyball is moving onto round two! Their first match was a sweep over the Hofstra Pride, who came into the game at 25-7 overall with a 13-3 record in the CAA. Hofstra had a good season and they were a solid team coming into the tournament, but they were clearly outmatched by the seventh-seeded Nebraska Huskers.
Nebraska hit an impressive .352 while holding Hofstra to .134. The Pride had one service ace and seven service errors to Nebraska’s five aces and five errors. Sophomore Lauren Stivirns couldn’t be stopped and was the star of the match, hitting .500 with a career-high 12 kills. Senior Mikaela Foecke and sophomore Lexi Sun both had nine kills.
This was the NCAA Tournament debut for the many freshmen on the team, but they all performed well. Nicklin Hames had 30 assists and two digs, Megan Miller had seven digs and two service aces, and Callie Schwarzenbach had three kills and four blocks. Seeing the freshmen perform well in their first glimpse of postseason action is critical for this team moving forward.
Nebraska’s second match will be a little more difficult, as they’ll face a squad that was ranked in the national poll in the final week of the season: that team being Missouri. Mizzou swept Arizona in their first match of tournament play, which was played in Lincoln prior to Nebraska’s win over Hofstra.
This is the first time Missouri has played Nebraska at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, but these teams used to play at least once a year back in the Big 12 days. As we all know, Nebraska left the Big 12 in 2011 and joined the all mighty Big Ten while Missouri bolted for the SEC the following year.
Missouri is a sneaky good team this year and could be a tougher opponent than what Husker fans are anticipating. The SEC isn’t as tough as the Big Ten, which bodes well for Nebraska since it seemed like every match they were playing a top ten opponent. Missouri did, however, finish the year ranked 24th in the nation and made a surprising run in last year’s tournament, getting all the way to the Elite Eight. They’re not a cupcake opponent by any means.
This very well could be the final match played at the Devaney Center this season, as Minnesota has to lose in order for Nebraska to host any more games. So more than likely, it’ll be the last time that the three seniors – Mikaela Foecke, Kenzie Maloney, and Brooke Smith – play in front of the hometown crowd in Lincoln.
That part is certainly sad, but the most important part is that Nebraska doesn’t look ahead and focuses on the task at hand. That’s taking down the Missouri Tigers on Saturday at the Devaney Sports Center and advancing to the next round.
Go Big Red!