The No. 6 Nebraska volleyball team will look to extend its current win streak to four games when it takes on the No. 15 Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, Nov. 10. The game will be the second of a four-game road trip for the Huskers.
Nebraska won the contest between the two schools earlier this year 3-1 on Sept. 21 in Lincoln.
The Huskers are riding a wave of momentum after defeating No. 7 Penn State and sweeping Rutgers and Iowa in their last three matches. Those wins have raised Nebraska’s record to 19-6 (10-5 Big Ten) as it tries to bolster its resume ahead of the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan currently sits at 19-7 (8-7 Big Ten) and is in a bit of a slump, as the team has lost four of its last five contests. Two of the losses and the lone win in that span were against top-10 teams.
Despite their recent slide, the Wolverines rank in the top five in the conference in kills per set with 13.76 and fourth in assists per set with 13. This efficiency is due in part to a veteran offense that includes junior setter MacKenzi Welsh and senior outside hitter Carly Skjodt.
The pair have started every game for the Wolverines this season. Welsh is fifth in the Big Ten with 10.82 assists per set and Skjodt ranks second in the conference in kills per set with 4.21.
Freshman outside hitter Paige Jones has also made an impact for Michigan with 3.32 kills per set, good enough for 11th best in the conference. Jones has struggled recently, however, hitting .000 and -.054 in the team’s two most recent matches against then-No. 5 Wisconsin and Maryland.
Defense is a mixed bag for the Wolverines. Although they are allowing opponents to hit just .175 against them, they are only mustering 1.93 blocks per set, which ranks second to last in the Big Ten.
Michigan, however, has a good defensive line behind its blockers which includes senior libero Jenna Lerg, who leads the Big Ten in digs per set with 5.17. As a team, the Wolverines are second in the conference in the category, averaging 16.11 digs per set.
The Huskers will attempt to counter the Wolverines’ defense with contributions from a plethora of offensive weapons. Senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke is averaging 3.64 kills per set to lead the team. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins has also been reliable this season and ranks third in the Big Ten with a hitting percentage of .401.
On Monday, head coach John Cook said he wanted to see higher hitting numbers from sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun after she had six straight matches hitting under .200 until she hit .308 against Rutgers last Saturday. She responded with a 12-kill, .400 hitting percentage performance on Wednesday against the Hawkeyes.
Cook also mentioned how he wanted to get freshman middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach more involved on the offensive side. In the last two matches, Schwarzenbach hit .714 against Rutgers and .500 with nine total kills and no errors against Iowa.
Schwarzenbach has been a big reason why the Huskers lead the conference in defense, allowing opponents to hit just .129 against them. She is second in the conference with 1.49 blocks per set and Stivrins isn’t far behind, earning 1.15 blocks per set which puts her in the top 10 in the conference as well.
First serve between the Wolverines and Huskers is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.