Trailing 19-6 in the fourth set, the White Team could have packed it in and been satisfied with their effort at the annual Red-White scrimmage.
However, they fought back, mounting a furious comeback, and even earned a set point before the Red team rallied to earn a 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 27-25 victory Saturday evening in front of 8,035 fans at the Devaney Center.
Nebraska coach John Cook called the scrimmage the most competitive he’s ever participated in. He said the coaches tried to divide the teams as evenly as possible. They used the same lineups during a scrimmage on Thursday that resulted in a well-balanced battle.
“These guys love to compete,” Cook said. “I felt pretty confident that this was going to be a heck of a match, and that was a great comeback by the White team. It just shows you also their competitiveness and nobody quits. This is a group that gets after it.”
The Red team was led by 13 kills from junior opposite Merritt Beason and freshman outside hitter Harper Murray. Ally Batenhorst added eight kills but committed 10 hitting errors. Freshman Bergen Reilly recorded a double-double with 36 assists, 16 digs and four aces, including the final two points of the match. Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez tallied 18 digs for the Red team.
Lindsay Krause got a workout for the White team with 16 kills on 59 attacks. (The school record for attacks in a four-set match was 63, set by Lexi Sun in 2019.) The junior outside hitter added four aces and four blocks. Sophomore Hayden Kubik chipped in 13 kills, while freshman opposite Caroline Jurevicius finished with five kills and 10 digs. The freshman libero recorded a match-high 19 digs. Junior setter Kennedi Orr finished with 29 assists and four kills.
The middle blockers switched between the two teams. One played front row for the White team all the time, while the other two rotated in for the Reds. Sophomore Bekka Allick tallied 10 kills and seven blocks. Freshman Andi Jackson finished with 10 kills on a .438 hitting percentage to go with six blocks, while sophomore Maggie Mendelson had six kills and four blocks.
Here are a few takeaways from the fifth-ranked Huskers’ tune up before the regular season kicks off next week.
SETTLING SETTER — Reilly ran a balanced offense with her three pin hitters recording 39, 39 and 38 attacks. She was steady and kept the defense guessing most of the time. She looked the best in the first set, also when the White servers attacked Rodriguez. She fell into a rut in the fourth set, but managed to keep her calm and prevail with a couple big aces when the pressure was on.
Orr looked like a better blocker and had a few more impressive sets – including one she pushed to Allick falling backward for a kill. She has improved significantly from a year ago and even though she was called for two setting errors she looked confident running the show.
The offense wasn’t pretty as the Red hit .141 while the White hit .171, but other defenses won’t have as good a scouting report as the Huskers have on themselves.
LOTS OF FIGHT — It should be no surprise that a team featuring Krause, Allick and Laney Choboy took it personally when they fell behind big in the fourth set. When asked about the large deficit after the match, Krause knew exactly by how much they trailed.
Allick spearheaded the surge with two kills and a block during a 9-0 run. She also let out an emphatic “That’s right!” after her last block to cap the run.
Kubik was also crucial to the comeback as she recorded three straight kills to give the White team a set point at 25-24.
Krause said the difference was they wanted to go out swinging as hard as they could and didn’t want the other team to score points off tips and roll shots.
“As soon as we made that change and we decided that none of that was going to happen, a lot of our fire kind of came back that we had in those first three sets and we lost in the beginning of that fourth set,” she said.
OUTSIDE IT ALL — Cook said the outside hitter position isn’t settled yet amongst the four left-pin hitters. While each had their moments, he will build a lineup based on who is the best passer.
Cook said Kubik has been the most consistent passer so far in fall camp. While other players might have had better individual days, her lows are not as low as others.
Murray said she was excited to play in front of a packed Devaney crowd and finish her first match.
“All the freshmen, we all talked about it – we were super nervous,” she said. “We knew going into this that it was going to be a great match and having the upperclassmen be there by our side because they’ve been through this it meant the world to us. That was a perfect game for it and it was amazing.”