Nebraska volleyball handled Ball State with ease on Friday night, sweeping the Cardinals in three sets. Next up for the Huskers is a date with Missouri in the second round.
This will be a rematch of last year’s second round match-up, which Nebraska took 3-0 in the Devaney Sports Center. It looked like a difficult match-up heading into the match last year and the Huskers went on to sweep MU, but one would have to think the Tigers would have revenge on their mind from that loss they took a year ago.
Before we dive more into Saturday’s match and what’s to come, let’s look back at how the Huskers took down Ball State. The offense was cooking, with Lauren Stivrins and Madi Kubik both notching 11 kills while Kubik hit .688 and Stivrins hit .667. Ball State had no answers for either of these two.
The defense was on point, as per usual, with Kenzie Knuckles recording 13 digs, Nicklin Hames getting eight digs with 34 assists and Madi Kubik also showing her defensive skills with seven digs. The defense will need to continue to play lights out, which isn’t usually a problem, but Missouri has the offensive prowess that could put this defense on edge a bit.
One of Nebraska’s key players heading into this match will be freshman Madi Kubik, who has been sensational this year. She won Big Ten Freshman of the Year for a reason and that’s because she’s an absolute wrecking ball, both up front and in the back court.
Kubik’s ability to play all six rotations as a freshman has helped fill the void of Mikaela Foecke graduating, and it could be argued that Kubik has been better as a freshman than Foecke was when she was a freshman. Strong statement, I know, but Kubik is insanely talented and will be someone the Huskers will lean on immensely in this match on Saturday.
Going back to Friday’s match, Ball State hung in there for a bit, but ultimately, they’re a young team that didn’t quite match up to the physicality of Nebraska. Missouri will match up with the Huskers much better and should be able to block Kubik and Stivrins a little better. That’s hard to do, but the Tigers have talent up at the net that should be up to the challenge.
What works for Nebraska is that they play tough competition all season long in the Big Ten. Each week during conference play, the Huskers are playing tournament level competition while Missouri can’t really say the same thing; The SEC has talented teams, but it’s not even close to the level of competition that Nebraska sees on a weekly basis, so that’s most definitely an advantage for the Huskers.
This match is also in Lincoln, which is always a plus for Nebraska, as the Devaney Sports Center is the best home field advantage in all of college volleyball. That will certainly be helping the Huskers out come Saturday and if they take down the Tigers, they’ll be on to the Sweet Sixteen once again.
Go Big Red!