Texas and Nebraska’s meeting in Saturday’s regional final will be the teams’ second of the season, but each team has made adjustments from that Sept. 22 match in Austin.
The Longhorns ran a 6-2 system in that first match, with senior Hannah Allison splitting the setting duties with freshman Chloe Collins. After Texas’ five-set win in September, coach Jerritt Elliott switched the Longhorns to a 5-1 system with Allison getting the starting nod.
Nebraska coach John Cook said the move didn’t surprise him.
“I told my staff after we played them, ‘They’ll be in a 5-1 next week,’ and they’ve been in a 5-1 since.”
NU freshmen right on serve
Three Nebraska freshmen combined for all four of the Huskers’ aces Friday, and kept San Diego off-balance with challenging serves.
Freshmen totaled five of the Huskers’ 10 serving errors in their first match with the Longhorns, but Cook said his youngsters have come a long way at the service line.
“Our serving has gotten better as we’ve gone on,” Cook said. “We’ve got a lot of young players serving, and they’re starting to figure it out.”
Rolfzens get a lot of swings
Kadie and Amber Rolfzen each were somewhat bottled up by San Diego on Friday. The twins combined for 11 kills and a .125 attack percentage.
But, Cook said, the freshmen were instrumental to moving the Huskers to the regional final, combining for 19 digs and avoiding costly mistakes that could’ve swung the momentum to the Toreros in three tight sets.
“Amber got a lot of out-of-system swings tonight,” Cook said. “I don’t know what her stats are, but she had a lot of tough swings tonight where we were out-of-system, scrambling, and throwing it up there. But I don’t think she had many errors and she gave us a chance to win some rallies.”
The Rolfzens combined for 25 kills in the Sept. 22 match at Texas.
First-set loss doesn’t hurt UT
Elliott didn’t like to see his team drop the opening game for the first time since Oct. 19. But even in that moment, he thought it might have been a blessing in disguise.
The Longhorns have typically set the tone early during their long win streak, which they extended to 22 straight after beating American Friday.
But the victory wasn’t easy at first against the Eagles. And the experience of regaining control should be beneficial for Texas, Elliott said. Maybe as soon as Saturday night against Nebraska.
“You’ve got to learn how to deal with adversity,” he said. “The teams that are able to deal with that, and have composure, and get good at their routines are the ones that are able to move on.”
American eyes bright future
American’s Cinderella story ended in four games Friday, but one senior thinks the Eagles’ run should give hope to other teams outside of the volleyball power conferences.
Watch out when predicting next year’s NCAA tournament results, said Juliana Crum. She thinks more surprising underdogs could match American’s postseason success in the future.
“I think this is a big indicator of things to come for American and other small schools,” Crum said. “This isn’t just a Big Ten, Pac-12 type of thing. Everyone else has a chance, too. Everyone else can do it.”
American swept No. 16 overall seed Duke to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.