Nebraska volleyball faces next challenge, Purdue comes to town

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#6 Nebraska (23-3, B1G 15-2) vs. #19 Purdue (19-8, B1G 10-7)
When: Sunday, November 20, 2022, noon
Where: Devaney Center
Video: BTN
Radio: Husker Radio Network

#6 Nebraska (23-3, B1G 15-2)

#1 Nicklin Hames SR passer 5’10”
#2 Kenzie Knuckles 5’8” SR DS/L
#4 Anni Evans JR Setter 5’9”
#5 Bekka Allick 6’4” FR Mo
#seven Maisie Boesiger 5’6” FR DS/L
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5” SO DS/L
#9 Kennedi Orr Setter SO 6’0”
#ten Madi Kubik 6’3” SR OH
#13 Whitney Lauenstein 6’2” SO OH
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’5” SO OH
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4” SO OH
#23 Kaitlyn Horde 6’4” SR MB
#33 Hayden Kubik 6’2” FR OH
#44 Maggie Mendelson 6’5” FR Mo

#12 Purdue (19-8, B1G 10-7)

#3 Megan Renner 6’2” JR S
#4 Grace Balensiefer 5’10” GR S
#5 Maddy Chinn 6’3” SR OH
#7 Ravin Colvin 6’1” SO MB
#8 Maddie Schermerhorn 5’10” SR DS
#10 Ali Hornung 5’10” SO DS
#12 Emma Ellis 6’2” SR OH
#16 Madeline Koch 6’2” SR OH
#17 Eva Hudson 6’1” FR OH
#20 Hannah Clayton 6’2” GR MB

Like an onion, this game, and the two that followed it against Wisconsin and Minnesota, have layers. The match itself is a thick layer that requires attention and has significant value. To win this game is to beat a quality team, represent growth and execution as a team, and progress towards end-of-season goals.

The next layer of the onion is the need to win against conference championship goals. Nebraska is tied for second with Ohio State with a 15-2 conference record. Wisconsin leads the race with a 17-1 record with its most recent five-set victory over Penn State last night.

The final layer of the onion is the need to demonstrate a consistent high standard of play for the NCAA Tournament and placement, seed-wise, in that tournament. Games at the end of the regular season mean a lot because how a team plays in November is closely tied to how it will play in December at the NCAA National Championship Tournament.

A win over Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota is a beautifully written and packaged love letter to the selection committee to let it be known that Nebraska is playing to win. Those are the diapers for Nebraska’s three remaining regular season games, but that’s not what the Huskers are talking about in practice. They’re just preparing to win every point against the Boilermakers.

Purdue is led by freshman outside hitter Eva Hudson and a backing band not used to carrying the load. Purdue is very inconsistent. They can look like fire during one set and be cold as ice the next. Nebraska defeated Purdue in three sets on October 19 at West Lafayette.

Nebraska beat Purdue with a hard serve that led to tons of away sets. Nebraska followed up those tough serves with a powerful block because they could expect the ball to go outside. This recipe worked once and will work again. Drill the ball on serve and use strong, disciplined blocks to stop Purdue.

Hudson is placed two to three times more than any other player. She averages 4.68 kills per set. The only player who is half as good as her is Raven Colvin, a 6’1” sophomore middle blocker. So Hudson gets the ball, you can just plan it.

When Purdue can get more production from its actors, they make a much better team. Maddy Chin, Emma Ellis and Madeline Koch sometimes have high kill nights in second outside and other times they don’t. This is why all three pass through this position like a revolving door.

Coach Shondell quickly rotates that second outside hitter position, so we’ll likely see the three outside hitters mentioned above. If one of the outside hitters gets hot, she’ll stay in that role and we’ll see Nebraska make blocking and defensive adjustments.

Take-out? If Chin, Ellis, or Koch start picking up wins, watch Nebraska’s block adjust, and then that outside hitter will be blocked multiple times and maybe even replaced soon after.

Nebraska’s scouting report focuses on the outside freshman shooting removal of Hudson slugger. She’s set 70-80% of the time, so reducing her shots gives defenders behind the block the chance to dig in and force Hudson to hit her second or third shot choice, forcing errors.

The Huskers will attack with their serves. Purdue is working on line-up changes at the Libero level, so clearly something isn’t working for them there. A Libero needs to be a good serve-receiving passer and so far Purdue’s Liberos have had problems, so whoever it is at the Libero, expect serves to go to her.

Purdue’s lackluster run is just one more reason they put Hudson on the outside so much. That won’t change against Nebraska. Expect big blocks and defense around that big block when Hudson rolls or flips. Nebraska will handle business that layer of the onion against a quality Purdue team.

Around the conference, there are wins and losses to talk about. Unranked Maryland defeated No. 5 Ohio State in four sets. OSU won set 1, then Maryland soundly beat them the next three sets, 16-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18. Emily Londot had 10 kills but 14 errors. It was a big loss. #14 Penn State defeated #9 Minnesota in four sets. Penn State gave Wisconsin a run last night, but in the end the Badgers won in five sets.

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