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  1. Being seeded at 5 is probably one higher than I thought Nebraska would be. I am disappointed (again) that the committee didn't try to avoid all B1G regional finals (last year was Illinois - Wisconsin and Nebraska - Minnesota except that the Gophers choked in the regional semis). For as unfavorable as the regional final match up is, the 3rd round match is actually pretty good with Hawaii as the 12 seed. Wisconsin has it even better with aTm somehow being selected as the 13 seed. My guess is that aTm doesn't make it out of the 1st weekend (see the Rice Owls). As far as the top 4 seeds, I didn't think that the committee would reward a crappy conference like the Big 12 with two top seeds. Not only did they reward the conference with two top seeds, they rewarded them with THE two top seeds. Pitt also plays in a crappy conference (the ACC) but the reality is that the Big 12 has ZERO depth. But instead Pitt gets a 6 seed, has to go to the West Coast for the 2nd weekend, AND has to play the 8th ranked Penn State squad that somehow ended up an 11 seed even though they finished tied for 2nd in the B1G at 17-3. This is the 'reward' Pitt gets for being 29-1 in a power 5 conference (albeit a weak one). The committee places too much reliance on the RPI. The RPI actually rewards teams in weak conferences. Baylor beating a 11-5 Oklahoma squad looks a lot better than a Wisconsin beating a 7-13 Oklahoma squad, which is what the Sooners record would have been if they played in the B1G (and that's probably being generous). Other observations. Penn State at 11 is a joke. Washington at 15 - 5 in the PAC-12 should not be the 8 seed over Florida, Kentucky, and Penn State. Again too much weight on the RPI and too much credit for wins over Wisconsin in September when the Badgers were in the middle of a four game losing streak. Oklahoma in the tournament over California is also puzzling. 10 -10 in the PAC-12 and 20-10 overall is a better resume' than 11-5 in the Big 12. Plus California swept Oklahoma 3-0, even though that was also a September match. Oklahoma beat literally no one of substance. They split with Iowa State and lost twice to Baylor and Texas in conference. As mentioned before, they lost in 3 to California, in 3 to Colorado State, and their "best" victories in non-conference where 5 setters over Oregon State, Indiana, and Arizona State. Iowa State in the tourney is even more mystifying. 8-8 in the Big 12, and with only one solid win in non-conference over Northern Iowa, and losses to UCF, Penn State (in a sweep), and LSU. The Big 12 should only have two reps. In the first weekend I don't see a ton of upsets, but probably more than last year. As mentioned before, look for Rice to come out of the aTm group. I also like Colorado State over 8 seed Washington, and San Diego over 12 seed Hawaii setting up a rematch with the Huskers. Marquette and 16 seed Purdue is a coin flip, and I would like to jump on the Illini bandwagon with Jacqueline "Swing Away" Quade, but I think they've actually regressed in the past few weeks. Losing to Northwestern on the final game of the regular season is not a good look.
  2. I didn't see this one coming. Another for the class of 2021. In volleyball recruiting, this would qualify as a 'late add'. Welcome one Whitney Lauenstein, a local from Waverly, to the Husker volleyball family: https://www.omaha.com/sports/college/huskers/teams/volleyball/waverly-junior-whitney-lauenstein-fulfills-a-dream-by-committing-to/article_f0dc1290-b13e-5aef-99db-d49224a1dd6d.html This one is a bit confusing to me. i assumed, going by the numbers, Ms. Lauenstein would be a walk-on, but she is indeed a scholarship player. This is the 2021 class currently (at least what I've been able to keep track of): 2021 Alexis Rodriguez DS SCH 5’ 04” U18 USA Team 2021 Lindsey Krause OH SCH 6’ 03” U18 USA Team 2021 Kennedi Orr S SCH 5’ 11” U18 USA Team 2021 Rylee Gray MB SCH 6’ 04” 2021 Ally Batenhorst OH SCH 6’ 04” Made USA tryouts 2021 Whitney Lauenstein OH SCH 6’ 02” The 2021 class is loaded. Four of the six were invited for the U18 USA National Team tryouts and three of the six actually made the team. That team won the gold in September this year by the way. Again the numbers don't add up to 12 scholarship players (they actually exceed by a couple). The Huskers should be losing 3 scholarship players after 2020. And I don't know the rules well enough to know how a medical redshirt counts against the total number of scholarships. Anezka Szabo already has a medical redshirt and would otherwise have exhausted her eligibility in 2020.
  3. Even with Meyer being the only scholarship player, it is still going to be a crowded field in 2020. No one is slated to leave, so a scholarship player will have to red shirt. The only other player that was recently in Nebraska's sights for this class was Lauren Ware, a two sports star out of North Dakota. Her scholarship was going to be in basketball, but she wanted to play both sports. She ended up committing to Arizona. This class won't be highly ranked, but the 2021 class will likely be a top five, if not the top ranked recruiting class in the country, assuming all the verbals remain committed.
  4. USA Women's team claims silver at at the FIVB World Cup. https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/September/29/US-Women-Claim-World-Cup-Silver-with-10-1-Record Much like other World Cups, this is a once every 4 years event. Unlike other World Cups, the women's volleyball is a round robin affair with the top 12 ranked teams in the World. Every team plays every other team and the winner is the one with the best record / points total / points/set winning percentage. China was unbeaten, and the US came in at 10-1 to claim 2nd. Couple of observations. Poulter is now the number one setter on this team. Pretty amazing considering the competition. Beating out Carlini is impressive considering she (Carlini) is a legend in her own right and was largely responsible for Carli Lake, who set team USA to bronze in the last Olympics, to resign from team USA. Kiraly is still experimenting but I think he realizes that the TEAM plays much better with Larson and Robinson on the outside, even though Hill and Bartsch-Hackley may be more physically imposing. He started Larson and Robinson on the outside in 7 of the 11 matches and often in the tougher matches. Additionally, I think Kiraly is starting to crack on his insistence that Courtney is his libero. Against Russia, in a match that was crucial in securing the silver, Kirachy started Wong-Orantes (3 Nebraskans starting --- Robinson, Larson, Wong-Orantes). Kelsey Robinson was selected as outstanding outside and Andrea Drews was selected outstanding opposite. Drews continues to rack up the accolades, but Kiraly seems to have a short hook for her, especially when Thompson is available. 14 were on the World Cup roster, only 12 are allowed on the Olympic squad. My guess is you go down one middle and only carry one libero. The 3 middles are probably Ogdobu, Washington, and Akinradewo (coming back from a pregnancy). The four outsides are Robinson, Larson, Bartsch-Hackley, and either Hill or Foecke. The setters are Poulter and Carlini. The outsides are Drews and Thompson. The libero is an unknown. Courtney has been marginal at best. Wong-Orantes may not be that far removed from making the team. Regardless of who makes it, Robinson becomes the emergency libero. That group has more than a puncher's chance at a gold in 2020. Larson has a silver (2012) and a bronze (2016). I hope she gets her gold.
  5. Comments on the red-white scrimmage Apparently not a sell out, but a pretty impressive showing for Husker fan as a volleyball scrimmage still manages to pull in the upper 7K in attendance. I do feel sorry for the players that had to endure the autograph session that followed the match. When they showed a clip of The Line for autographs, my writing hand instinctively started cramping up….a “sympathy” cramp as it were. It may be prudent next year for the team to autograph a few thousand group pictures prior to, in order to better manage the adulation onslaught. I would think that you would particularly want the “real life” interactive to be selective towards young girls who idolize the “big girls” on the team. It seems like Frost did something similar this year for Fan Day in football i.e. pre-signed some autographs but catered to younger fans at the actual event. It is poor form to couch all the subsequent comments with a caveat, but here it goes anyway. It is one day, one match. And not even a real match but a scrimmage amongst yourselves (we talkin’ practice) where nearly eight thousand friends just also happen to show up. But to come away with any dramatic new insight on this team seems like reaching a bit. And perhaps myopic. Particularly since all said “insights” are made by LISTENING to the match without the benefit of seeing it. The BIG story was the play of Capri Davis. 19 total kills with most of those coming AGAINST the Red squad. Per the coach, this KILL explosion is a rather recent development. On Thursday in practice, Ms. Davis went off and became nearly unstoppable. Whether this is a new level of play as the result of hours of practice and repetition, or this is just an athlete who is ‘in a zone’ for awhile and will eventually return to norm, remains to be seen. Davis had moments last year where she looked the part of a starter (see Creighton and 18 kills in a 5 set match), but she was too inconsistent. She (Capri) is an athlete on the freakish side (probably not Jordon Thompsonesque, but next level freakish) who was a bit raw coming out of high school. If the pieces are starting to fit together for her, then stand by for the pyrotechnics. I just happen to disagree with the announcers (John Baylor and Lauren Cook West) that you slide her into the rotation at the outside position. Put Capri at opposite, and if you absolutely want a lefty at right pin, then put in Jazz for one rotation, almost an inverse of the rotation Capri and Jazz did last year. Admittedly the views held for Ms. Sweet are largely based on her underwhelming performance last year. But the chatter on the audio broadcast was also underwhelming. Reports that she “struggled to get kills” in practice don’t engender thoughts of a breakout season. For the rest of the good, Hames distribution and the offensive presence of the middles was a solid positive, especially this early. Stivrins was perfect on offense (7 for 7, no errors) and Callie had double digit kills. That was a point of contention for most of last season (get the middles more involved) and now it simply is part of the game plan which should open up the pins. Sun and Kubik should benefit from this strategy. There was even some back row attacks from both sides (hats off to Nicole Drewnick for setting one early for the white team). Even with the loss of Foecke, the offense should be more efficient with Hames maturation in running the show. The USA National team could take a page from this offense. Coach Cook was also effusive in his praise of Riley Zuhn, particularly the fact she has dual roles as a middle and as an outside attacker. She’s a big girl that looks like she could pound the ball hard enough to make it (or you) cry. But she is also developing into an all-around player (digging, passing) that Cook can rely on as a six-rotational player for depth purposes. In fact, the head coach seemed more than pleased with the incoming freshman and the contributions and competitiveness they brought to practice, and the team in general. Lexi Sun had a solid game on the outside with 11 kills, but a hitting percentage below 0.300. Madi Kubik struggled a bit both attacking and passing. Probably a slight case of the yips since she (along with Kenzie Knuckles) was hyped as one of the best passers on the team. The not so good was the number of service errors. A 6/23 ace to error ratio won’t win many games in December. But this is a scrimmage in August and probably the biggest crowd that many of these freshman have played in front of, maybe by a factor of multiples. The only good thing to say is that I don’t recall any of the errors being serves into the net. They were aggressive errors i.e. often serves just a tad too long. It will be interesting this coming week to see who starts against Creighton. My opinion (that doesn’t matter by the way) you start your best seven, which, based on a very limited snapshot, appears to be Stivrins, Schwartzenbach, Sun, Kubik, Davis, Hames, and Knuckles with a flip of the coin between Densberger and Miller on who the first defensive specialist off the bench is (that will probably vary match to match and geared to whomever is serving better). Start Davis at opposite and if you feel the need, occasionally sub in Sweet when the position rotates to the right front (rotation 1). The B1G pre-season rankings should come next and just maybe the remainder of the TV schedule. Seems a bit late, but that may be due to the B1G agreement with Fox Sports (BTN2GO and BTN plus are now BTN +…………?). I had to laugh at an article on the NCAA website where a writer was ranking the five most likely teams to possibly go undefeated in route to a national title in volleyball this year in which he included Stanford (clearly the best team in their conference), Texas (plays in a weak conference), BYU (see Stanford), Kentucky (tougher conference than previous years and they play Florida twice this year), and …….wait for it……Illinois. Talk about randomness. https://www.ncaa.com/news/volleyball-women/article/2019-08-23/di-womens-volleyball-teams-best-chance-undefeated-2019 The writer goes on to talk about Quade (legitimate POY contender) and that the Illini return 7 of the top 9 rotational players. But he fails to mention the 2 that aren’t returning were All-Americans and that one of the All-Americans happened to be the setter (Poulter) who only ran the ENTIRE offense and is so good that she is now essentially the 2nd best setter on the National team. As Nebraska fan can attest to, a POY caliber setter is not a hole likely to be filled by a transfer from Auburn.
  6. Not much of a difference in the initial rankings with how the season ended last year. If you overlay the final poll of the 2018, it doesn’t take a lot of manipulation to come up with the pre-season poll. In fact, Louisville is the only team in the top 25 in the pre-season that wasn’t in the final top 25 of 2018. Not sure if this is a lack of imagination on part of the voting coaches, or if teams at the top are just doing a good job of recruiting and training to maintain the status quo. Stanford at the top is not surprising to anyone. They had 5 All-Americans on the floor against Nebraska in the finals and return all of them with the exception of middle blocker Tami Alade. Then they go out and get an All Pac-12 middle transfer from UCLA. Then they go out get the no. 1 recruiting class for 2019. The Color Cardinal are stacked and loaded. While the Pac-12 is a tough conference, it clearly isn’t the grind at the top that the B1G is. Stanford is a cut above everyone else. But you have to admire the Color Cardinal. They don’t duck anybody. Stanford opens non-conference play with a couple of ho-hum opponents, then they have Florida, Texas, Penn State, Minnesota, Nebraska and BYU to close out the non-conference portion of their schedule. All pre-season top 10 teams. Almost like a B1G schedule in the middle of October. The Pac-12 has 5 other teams in the top 25 occupying positions 11-25 and 2 other schools receiving votes. Last year was a quagmire for Pac-12 teams in the bottom half of the top 25 with each taking turns beating up on each other. At one time, there were 7 teams ranked from 14-25 with two others receiving votes. Oregon and USC ended tied for 2nd in conference with 13-7 records. This year, it will be slightly different as Oregon has the horses to break out of the pack and hang around the top ten most of the year. For the other schools……… it’s more of the same mosh pit with the weekends characterized by 5 set matches and plenti-o-upsets. Nebraska at no. 2 is not as clear cut as Stanford is at no. 1, but is largely there because of the “Cook Factor” and the reality the Huskers have made 4 final fours in a row. Plus they did have the No. 2 recruiting class behind Stanford. The top five B1G schools that finished in the top 10 last year, are also ranked in the top 10 this year. There might be some disagreement on who slots where, but putting Minnesota at no. 3 makes sense if you’re just looking at the number of returning All-Conference players. However, after experiencing the growing pains of replacing a POY caliber setter in 2018 for the Huskers, I believe that Minnesota replacing Seliger‑Swenson, Illinois replacing Poulter, and to a lesser extent Penn State replacing Weiskircher is going to be tougher sledding than people might expect. Particularly in the first half of the season. I would probably flip Wisconsin and Minnesota. I would probably also swap Penn State and Illinois as the orange & blue lost All-American middle Bastianelli in addition to Poulter. Michigan and Purdue are also included in the top 25, but no other B1G team is even receiving votes. The B1G will be a deeper conference this year and I expect teams like Ohio State, Maryland, and Michigan State to compete for tournament berths with Iowa and Indiana as dark horse picks. In 2017 the SEC was a two team conference with no one else in the picture. Last year, the two teams were challenged a bit. And while it is still Kentucky’s and Florida’s conference to lose this year, there are even more teams getting into the competitive mix. Look for Tennessee, Missouri, and South Carolina to be in the top 25 discussion along with LSU and their no. 10 recruiting class. And it won’t be long before aTm and their 200 + million dollar athletic budget starts participating in the volleyball ARMS race. The SEC is an improving conference as opposed to ……………. The ACC is again down to Pittsburgh and Louisville with the Panthers gunning for a hometown visit to the final four. And while Florida State is a consistent presence in the NCAA tournament, this conference, surprisingly, is not a very good volleyball conference. The ACC has one final four appearance in tournament history (Florida State in 2011) which is the same as UT@Arlington. If Dani Busboom can somehow maneuver through the pig sty that IS Louisville Athletics (The Bird Cardinal), she could have a chokehold on this conference for years to come. Texas again has a lot of returning talent, again has a highly regarded recruiting class, again is the prohibitive favorite in the B12, again is ranked in the top ten, and again will find a way to squander a title run. Texas did win the title in 2012, but are 1 – 7 in final fours since 2008. Baylor also is a very athletic team, however, they are maddeningly inconsistent. They will beat a top 5 Wisconsin team, then within 24 hours lose a match to something called UT@Rio Grande Valley formally known as Pan American University (go fightin’ Vaqueros????). With a year of seasoning along with a good recruiting class, a young Kansas squad should also compete for a tournament slot. It will be interesting to see how TCU’s top 5 recruiting class translates to the court. Iowa State is another possible tournament entry albeit more of a long shot. BYU is again in the top 10 and has a chance to make a statement early in non-conference play with matches against Stanford, Texas, and Marquette. Last year I called the West Coast Conference the “Conference That Sucks” because BYU was plowing through it effortlessly. That depiction was sorely inaccurately as the West Coast Conference placed 4 teams in the Tournament and 2 (San Diego and BYU) made the 2nd weekend (the sweet 16). It appears that BYU, Loyola Marymount, and San Diego are again in contention to make the Tournament with Pepperdine being a team to watch. There is little to no depth to this conference after those 4 teams. The Big West and the Big East are similar to the ACC in that there are one or two contenders will be in the top 25 all season long but the remainder of each conference is largely non-competitive. Cal Poly is the bell cow of the Big West with perhaps Hawaii providing some competition. The Big East has Marquette and Creighton and ……….nobody else. The advantage of a weak conference is that a team can post an inflated win – loss record and get an inflated ranking. The disadvantage of a weak conference is that the AVCA poll will punish the hell out of a team than finally succumbs to a loss in said weak conference, at least they did last year. The AAC doesn’t have a team in the top 25 but has two teams that made the NCAAs last year in UCF (undefeated in league play) and Cincinnati (the team with the best player in the nation – Jordan Thompson - assuming she doesn’t go pro after her electric performance on team USA in the VNL and the Olympic Qualification Round Robin). Tulane will also compete for a tournament spot as they made the finals of the 2018 NIVC (the women’s volleyball equivalent of the NIT) and had a top 25 recruiting class. Wichita State was down last year after having to replace multiple All-Americans on the 2017 squad, but I don’t anticipate the Shockers will be down for long. The remaining conferences (including the Missouri Valley) are probably represented by a single entry i.e. the conference winner in the NCAAs. Missouri State and Northern Iowa have the potential to get multiple berths from The Valley, but it is not likely. A more detailed look at the B1G teams will occur when the B1G announces their pre-season rankings. Is a 6’01” transfer from Auburn enough to replace Poulter at setter and feed Prince and Quade at Illinois? Does Coyle from Iowa recover from her knee injury to be able to lead the Hawkeyes to a Tournament berth? Do new facilities and a top 5 recruiting class propel Ohio State into the top 25? But back to the national discussion briefly and specifically as it relates to the Huskers. The pre-season poll looks to be more of the same from last year. Nebraska at no. 2 is a good start for the Huskers but will be hard to hold on to with the competitiveness of the B1G.
  7. Admittedly this is just CBS Sports version on the All-Time All American teams at the 150th anniversary of the sport. But for Nebraska fan, it is a fond look back at the excellence of the past: https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/college-football-turns-150-all-time-all-america-team-features-the-games-greatest-ever/ As the article states, four Nebraska players and five positions on the first team, 2 more than anyone else. Nebraska also has 3 on the 2nd team and 2 "honorable mentions." Like most all-time lists, there is a certain amount of recency bias, but this list isn't too bad in that regard. 1st team - Frazier, Rimington, Suh, Rodgers (two positions: punt returner and all purpose player) 2nd Team - Will Shields, Rich Glover, Alex Henery Receiving votes - Aaron Taylor, Dominic Raiola The one name that sticks out to me not on the list for Husker fan is Bob Brown. I was too young to remember much of his college days, I just know he was the Baddest O-Lineman on the planet in the late 60s and early 70s.
  8. This news is a little dated but with the upcoming season upon us, the 2019 NCAA Division 1 recruiting rankings as determined by "an elite group of Div 1 coaches" is as follows: https://volleyballmag.com/2019-ncaa-womens-recruiting-rankings/ Stanford is 1 and Nebraska 2. Per the article there is a "gap" between the top two and Oregon at 3. As far as B1G teams, the Buckenidiots are 4 and Purdue is 7. They only picked the top 10 but the usual suspects made "honorable mention" namely Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Not only did Ohio State recruit well, but they are moving into new digs as is Indiana. And remember Northwestern just got new facilities in the last half of the 2018 season. A veritable volleyball ARMS race in the B1G. TCU is the big surprise in the top 10 recruiting list at 5. I thought it was amusing that the author had to point out that Texas was in the top 6 for the 4th straight year. There are two edges to that sword. Yes Elliot can recruit well in fertile recruiting grounds, but he recently is losing players also. The prime example is 2017 Gatorade POY Lexi Sun. And there have been others. He has someone on the Texas staff that can coach up the middles well, but there isn't a ton of Texas players (other than middles) on the USA roster.
  9. A new walk-on was added to the 2020 commit list. Abby Johnson, a 6'4" Middle Blocker / Outside Hitter is the newest Husker. https://journalstar.com/sports/huskers/volleyball/attending-two-nebraska-volleyball-camps-this-summer-earned--foot/article_e8f4a409-95c9-5a5b-9660-340a4db77c35.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-siderail-latest By my count, that is three committed, one more potential commit on a basketball scholarship and one de-commit. 2020 Madi Endsley OH SCH 6’ 03” To Washington 2020 Kalynn Meyer MB SCH 6’ 03” 2020 Lauren Ware MB / OH BB 6’ 05” (Not Committed 2020 Annika Evans S WO 5’ 09” 2020 Abby Johnson OH / MB WO 6’ 04” SCH is scholarship player, WO is walk-on, and the BB designation means Ms. Ware would count against the basketball scholarships. Again, the team currently has 12 scholarship players and no one graduates. A lot of things can change in a year, but right now a scholarship player will have to redshirt in 2020.
  10. As noted in the previous post, The US swept Argentina 25-22, 25-17, and 25-13 to punch their ticket to the 2020 Olympics. See the article for more detail and for an unofficial box score: https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/August/04/Olympics-Bound-US-Women-Claim-Ticket-to-Tokyo Kiraly went with the same line up that finished against Bulgaria including Larson and Robinson on the outside. I started watching the match, but unfortunately found out that Hulu still hasn't figured out how to buffer live sporting events. It literally locked up after a Thompson kill in the first set that put the US ahead 12 to 11. Even after multiple resets, uninstalls and installs, on both Roku and FireStick, the NBC channel would lock up at the same exact place. So a word of caution for those of you who, like me, don't watch a lot of TV, but subscribe to a streaming service to watch the fall sports. Make sure that if you subscribe to Hulu, pick out a live sporting event during the trial period to see if you have "issues." This is the 2nd time I'll cancel out of Hulu because they can't get live sports right. I was hoping that after two years they would finally figure it out. My internet connection is plenty fast enough (65 - 70 mps) and I don't have that problem with Playstation Vue or YouTube TV. I would try Sling TV but they don't have BTN which, obviously, is a deal breaker. Streaming issues aside, just looking at the box score, it appears that the pins again had most of the attacks with the middles once again MIA offensively, although not to the degree of the first two matches of the tournament. Thompson had another solid outing at opposite, even though she started the match with two hitting errors and anther attack getting stuffed in the first three attempts in the match. And under the "I may be slow, but I'm not very bright" category, I finally figured out that the reason Ogbugo wasn't starting at the middle was she didn't make the trip even though she was on the roster initially. I was looking at the team photo following the win over Bulgaria and saw she wasn't in it. Then I looked at the box score and she wasn't even listed. I know she was on the roster for the tournament so she must have been a late scratch. Of course, they didn't mention anything about her missing in the first two telecasts nor can I find out any info as to why she wasn't there. Anyway, congrats to team USA and, of course, in particular to Robinson and Larson who both played key roles in securing the qualification berth.
  11. So much for the so called "favorable draw." While the US did win, they had to punch, kick, scratch, and claw their way to victory with a 5 set win over Bulgaria 21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, and 15-10. Some details: https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/August/03/US-Women-1-Step-Closer-to-Olympic-Berth Kiraly swapped the outsides out, starting Kim Hill and Larson, and keeping the remainder of the starters the same. After a first set loss, Thompson was put in at opposite for Drews. And when the US went down 2 sets to 1, Robinson replaced Hill. The 5 setter wasn't a case of the US playing down to the competition, Bulgaria played well above their ranking. In taking the first set, I believe that Bulgaria was error free. In fact, both teams minimized the errors in the extended match with the US committing just 11 and Bulgaria 13. As well as Bulgaria played, it was disturbing from a USA perspective to see a 5'11" outside jack up nearly 20 kills. And Paskova got the majority of those by pounding it through, over, and around the block. There wasn't many points won by tooling the block that you might expect from a smaller player. The US didn't have an answer for her until Robinson blocked her twice in the 5th set. Hill had a strong start and led the US in kills after 2 sets. She cooled off in the 3rd as Thompson started to heat up and was getting the majority of the sets. Larson was consistent and steady throughout and ended up with the most points on the US team. Robinson did exactly what Kiraly wanted her to do, and provided a spark that, in essence, turned the match around. There was a point in the 5th set tied at 9 where Robinson had a sequence of plays that resulted in two kills and a block to give the US some breathing room at 13-9. For Husker fan, it is interesting to note that when Kiraly needs the momentum to change in a match, he turns to Robinson (this match down 2-1) and Larson (VNL championship game down 2-0). Drews didn't have a strong first set, but that was largely because Hill was getting most of the attempts. I thought Kiraly subbed her out too quickly. When Thompson came in the 2nd set, she also didn't impact the match immediately as Hill and Larson continued to get most of the action. However from the 3 set on, Thompson was impressive with her athletic display and fearless nature. She ended up tied with Larson for the most kills even while playing one less set. Carlini had a good night at setter and really set herself apart with her defensive skills. There were several times she was diving on the floor and extending rallies. And in a crucial stretch in the 2nd set, she was involved in 3 blocks that turned the momentum to the US. That's the advantage of having a 6'2" setter. To say Megan Courtney had an uneven performance at libero would be generous.....and polite. She did a much better job receiving this match and she had some outstanding covers. But her bump sets were horrific, often times leaving the attackers no room (and no choice) but to tip the ball over. Contrast that to Larson having to set a handful of times and dropping it on the proverbial dime so that the attacker could "swing away." Larson does so many of the little things with precision. The consummate pro. The middles did a decent job defensive but were absent again on the offensive side. Washington did get two kills back to back in the 5th, but that nearly doubled her output for the match. Ogbogu did not see the court again. Not sure what is going on with her. A comment on the coverage on the Olympic Channel. You would think that two required timeouts per set (after the first team to 8 and to 16 points) would be enough to get the necessary commercials ran. But not on the Olympic Channel. Coming back after commercial, you would find that 2 to 3 points were missed in the TV coverage. Very odd and annoying. One more win against Argentina and the ticket is punched to Tokyo. Argentina lost to Bulgaria in 4 but beat Kazakhstan in 4. Hopefully the US will dispatch Argentina with a little more breathing room than the Bulgarian match.
  12. After starting out a little shaky (maybe a slight case of the yips) the US swept past an overmatched Kazakhstan team 25-17, 25-10, and 25-10. https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/August/02/Robinson-Leads-US-Women-Past-Kazakhstan Kelsey Robinson did Husker Nation proud and led Team USA with 11 kills on 16 attempts and 13 total points. Jordon Larson did not play. Some thoughts on the match. For one match (and it's important to remember it is just one match), against an inferior opponent, Megan Courtney was a dumpster fire. From the first serve in which they aced her, Kazakhstan was targeting the US libero, and was somewhat successful. At least 3 of their 4 aces in the match were aimed at Courtney and it may have been all 4, I can't remember for certain. The announcers were commenting how "unusual" it was to target the opposing libero in the service game. The color commentator made a remark in the middle of the match of how the libero position was a weakness for the US and "why can't they find a legitimate libero who plays the position when they can select from over 300 collegiate programs?" referring to the fact that Courtney is a converted outside and will return to the outside when she resumes her professional career. Kiraly finally subbed her with Mary Lake midway through the third set, unfortunately Ms. Lake was also unimpressive in her short stint. Robinson and Bartsch-Hackley played the entire match on the outside. KRob did an excellent job on the attack as evidenced by her team leading kills, but it is her all-around play that is particularly impressive. As one example, when Courtney was having "issues" receiving, Kiraly had KRob help cover for Courtney when KRob rotated to the back row. Bartsch-Hackley had solid stats, but did not have a particularly outstanding game. A very quiet 7 kills on 17 attacks and the Kazakhstan block, as weak as it was, has some success against her. I was a little surprised that Kim Hill did not see playing time in the third set when the substitutes started coming in. Hill did not play in the VNL and has not played since her professional season ended in May. Drews and Thompson excelled at the opposite position. Drews played the first two sets and Thompson played the third. Drews hits the ball so damn hard it routinely will clock above 90 km/hr. And Thompson is just a freak athlete that can leap out of the gym. Thompson has some holes defensively (i.e. when and where to cover on a tipped ball), but that is just inexperience and will come with more playing time. This position is turning out to be a strength for Team USA. The setter position is also a strength and Carlini had an efficient game. Poulter played in the third set and there was no drop off. Those two are so good (plus you have Micha Hanc$%k and Seliger-Swenson in the wings) that Carli Lake left USA Volleyball. Ogbogu did NOT start in the middle, instead it was Dixon and Washington. Somewhat of an upset since the only match Ogbogu didn't start in the VNL (as least that I can remember) is the final match in the preliminary round against Thailand. The middle was solid, but not spectacular. Rettke played a portion of the third set and looked disjointed.....probably a bit of nerves. The middles didn't get a lot of offensive opportunities, which against Kazakhstan doesn't matter. But against better opponents, more balance will be needed. Bulgaria is next. The Bulgarians beat Argentina in 4 sets after dropping the first set in a deuce. Bulgaria finished last in the VNL in 2019 and is relegated to the Challengers Cup in 2020. Team USA still has to win the matches, but this is shaping up to be a very favorable draw in order to qualify for Tokyo.
  13. I thought I saw where Foecke had signed professionally, but couldn't remember the article. I finally stumbled on it again at the Flo Volleyball site. It isn't the top article, it is the 3rd article down that talks about where members of the VNL 25 player roster were going in the upcoming professional season: https://www.flovolleyball.tv/articles/6486068-a-closer-look-at-the-final-vnl-roster-for-the-usa-women Foecke is going to Italy, Larson is going to China after playing in Turkey for the last 5 seasons, and Robinson is staying in Turkey, but signing with a different team. There were a few unsigned, most notably Tori Dixon and Annie Drews. Foecke will need to make a decision by the fall of 2020 whether to enter vet school at Iowa State or to continue a professional volleyball career. She was accepted at Iowa State and they even worked with her to keep her spot into vet school open for a year. My understanding it is pretty difficult to get into vet school, but I would think that is a "life choice" that could be delayed.
  14. I put this under Husker Volleyball, mods / admins please feel free to move if necessary. The roster has been set for the US Women's Volleyball team for the 2020 Olympic Qualifier later this week. It has a definite Nebraska flavor, but is missing one ingredient: https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/July/26/US-Women-Set-Roster-for-Olympic-Qualifier Ms. Foecke did NOT make the roster this time around and instead, Kim Hill joins the list of outsides that includes Larson, Robinson, and Bartsch-Hackley. The remainder of the team is the same as the VNL roster for the final round including Courtney and Lake at libero. Hill has Olympic experience and has starred in international competition before. At the 2014 FIVB World Championships she was selected as the MVP, was a member of the 2016 Olympic Team that got the Bronze, and was the leading scorer in the 2018 VNL title game against Turkey. She didn't play a set in the 2019 VNL and originally I thought she was ousted when the 25 player roster was announced. That turned out to be incorrect as Ms. Hill did make the VNL roster, she just didn't travel or play at any of the sites. Apparently that was her decision after a long professional season in Europe. The teams competing against the US in the qualifier are Argentina, Bulgaria, and Kazakhstan. The US is a combined 41-1 against the three opponents. The fun starts Friday August 2nd and is a round robin affair with each team playing 3 matches over 3 days. Team USA WILL BE televised via the Olympic Network on Friday, NBC Sports on Saturday, and NBC proper on Sunday. Final thought. The only players on this roster that were on the 2016 Olympic Team are Hill, Larson, and Robinson. Seems like a ton of turnover, but it is also indicative of the level and depth of talent coming in to Women's USA Volleyball.
  15. An update on the U18 USA team as they cut the roster to 12: https://journalstar.com/sports/huskers/volleyball/nebraska-volleyball-recruits-chosen-for-youth-national-team/article_d448f503-1c7a-5f96-9785-8da5b378315f.html and https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/July/26/USAV-Names-Girls-Youth-National-Team-Roster Orr, Rodriguez, and Krause made the cut, Batenhorst did not. For people counting at home 3 of the 12 are committed to Nebraska, 7 of the 12 are committed to B1G schools, 2 are uncommitted, 2 are committed to PAC-12 schools (Stanford, UCLA), and 1 committed to a Big 12 member (Kansas). Nebraska was the only school with multiple commits, and a Penn State commit was NOT on the list. The U18 team will represent the US in the U18 world championships in Egypt September 5th through 14th. I'm sure this is a great thrill for the girls, but it is also slightly inconvenient, as their high school volleyball seasons will be in full swing as they play overseas.
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