Husker volleyball grinded out a win against Kansas, winning in four sets (26-24, 18-25, 25-16, 25-17). The exhibition match was played in front of 6,117 fans in the Heartland Event Center in Grand Island, Neb.
Here are three takes from Nebraska’s spring match:
Outside hitters shine:
Senior Madi Kubik continued to prove why she is still Nebraska’s No. 1 left side hitter with a big match. She had a match-high 20 kills, hitting .311 with seven digs and one block assist.
However, Husker Head Coach John Cook said sophomore Lindsay Krause has been the best left-side hitter all of spring practice. Krause had an off-day on Saturday as she had three kills with three errors and blocks.
Sophomore Ally Batenhorst played the last two sets and had four kills, hitting .111 with one block and two digs.
On the opposite side, Whitney Lauenstein had a great showing as she had 12 kills and a team-high eight blocks.
“Whitney is a very inexperienced player and we kept telling our setters to set her as much as we can,” Cook said. “Obviously, she makes big kills but she’s got to learn how to do the little plays and how to use the block a little more but she’s learning and this is why (this was) such a huge match for her playing.”
Nebraska has four good options at outside hitter but needs to find consistency with at least three of them. Kubik and Lauenstein proved that during the exhibition.
Allick with a chance to make a difference:
Freshman Bekka Allick was the only middle blocker that played on Saturday that will be on the Huskers’ 2022 roster.
Callie Schwarzenbach played with Nebraska and practiced with them for most of the spring. However, Schwarzenbach announced in January that she is transferring to Long Beach State for her fifth season. Since she is still on scholarship at Nebraska, she practiced with the team.
Kayla Caffey did not play on Saturday and is still awaiting her final eligibility decision as Nebraska submitted a waiver to the NCAA to allow Caffey to play her seventh year of college volleyball.
As for Allick, Cook said she was “born to play volleyball,” as she responded great to the environment in her first match as a Husker.
She had six kills, hit .056 with five blocks and two digs.
Cook said it’s easy to see if a player is nervous based on how they serve because “it’s just them and the ball.” He also said Allick was probably Nebraska’s best server as she had one error on her 10 times to the line.
The Huskers will add Penn State transfer Kaitlyn Hord to the middle blocker group but with Caffey’s status undecided, it’s promising that Allick has a bright future.
Seriously good defense:
Nebraska’s back row defense is something they hang their hat on. They value it so much that they probably also hang their coats and scarves on it, too.
The Huskers have AVCA first-team All-American and 2021 Freshman of the Year Lexi Rodriguez at libero and Keonilei Akana and Kenzie Knuckles as top-tier defensive specialists.
Akana led Nebraska with 18 digs and Rodriguez had 15. Knuckles supplied nine digs of her own.
Setter Nicklin Hames had eight digs and 38 assists. Although Hames announced she would be coming back to Nebraska for her fifth season but not as the starting setter, she started for the Huskers on Saturday.
Cook said she is their best setter right now and he wanted the game to go smoothly. Hames also provides a huge boost on defense.
Nebraska’s defense was on display in the first set as Hames laid out to get a hit up, Knuckles popped it straight in the air from the ground and Rodriguez sent it over the net from the backline. Kubik joined in on the fun as she came up with a huge block.
“We talked about how our defense can suffocate teams and when we start digging balls and working hard in (transition) then we can take over a match,” Kubik said. “I don’t think at the beginning of the match, we were doing that. Just being able to rely on our block and (defense), that can help us propel through a match.”