Nebraska volleyball season in review: Middle blocker
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Nebraska volleyball season in review: Middle blocker

Husker volleyball finished as the No. 2 ranked team in the AP poll after falling to Wisconsin in the national championship game in five sets. Nebraska was ranked No. 12 at one point in the season and surged toward the end in the NCAA tournament.

In this series, HuskerOnline will break down Nebraska's season by position group based on statistics and national rankings.

Series: OH |

Nebraska middle blocker Kayla Caffey
Nebraska middle blocker Kayla Caffey (Getty Images)

Middle blocker observations:

Caffey:

Kayla Caffey is the only Husker whose hitting percentage ranked in the top 150 in NCAA volleyball. The 6-foot-0 middle's .363 clip was ranked No. 50 in the 2021 season in the NCAA and No. 6 in the Big Ten.

The second-team AVCA All-American had the third most kills on the team (255). Caffey's kills per set went from 2.04 in 2020 to 2.41 kills per set in 2021. She led the team with 118 blocks. Opposite hitter Lindsay Krause had the next most with 90 blocks.

Against Wisconsin in the national championship, Caffey had a career-high 15 kills and hit .267 with four blocks. In the regular season, Caffey had her two best games against Purdue, hitting .634 on the series.

Caffey and Nebraska have completed an NCAA waiver for her to play her seventh season of volleyball. If granted, the Huskers will be getting their led blocker and one of their top hitters back in 2022.

Blocking:

Nebraska ranked fifth in the Big Ten in blocks with 2.50 blocks per set and No. 36 in Division I volleyball. NU had the 18th most blocks in DI volleyball with 303 blocks during the 2021 season.

The Huskers didn't have a blocker in the top 10 of the Big Ten and their highest-ranked player in DI volleyball is Caffey at No. 108 with 1.11 blocks per set.

Head coach John Cook said several times during the season that his team's blocking was better than it looked. Just because they weren't getting stuff blocks that show up on stats, didn't mean they weren't getting their hands on lots of hits and impacting the shots of the players across the net.

Nebraska middle blocker Lauren Stivrins
Nebraska middle blocker Lauren Stivrins (Getty Images)

The farewell tour:

Six-year senior Lauren Stivrins missed Nebraska's first 11 games due to an off-season back surgery. The 6-foot-4 middle hit .339 on the season with 185 kills and 89 blocks. In the Big Ten conference play, Stivrins ranked No. 7 in hitting percentage and Caffey ranked No. 4.

In the 2021 season, Stivrins hit her lowest percentage since her redshirt freshman season in 2017 when she hit .309. She scored her second-highest blocks per set since 2018 last season.

After five seasons of being an integral part of Nebraska's team, Stivrins is ended her career like it began, in a national championship match.

Schwarzenblock:

Callie Schwarzenbach was Nebraska's middle off of the bench. There were a couple of games where Schwarzenbach matched up better with the other team's personnel and/or the Huskers needed a big block upfront.

The 6-foot-5 middle started the first 11 matches while Stivrins was sidelined with an injury. Schwarzenbach contributed in 17 matches and started 13 matches. She had 61 kills, hit .264 and had 63 blocks, averaging 1.21 per set.

Schwarzenbach will play her fifth and final season at Long Beach State, where former Huskers associate coach Tyler Hildebrand is the head coach.

Up next:

With Stivrins and Schwarzenbach leaving, Kalynn Meyer is the only other middle blocker on the roster that is returning in 2022 that had experience in 2021.

Meyer played in six matches, all at the beginning of the season when Stivrins was absent. The Superior, Neb. native had eight kills on 22 swings and hit .227. Meyer had eight blocks, including four against Omaha.

During the off-season, Meyer is throwing shot put for the Nebraska track and field team and won her first invite with a personal-best throw of 50-3 1/2 (15.33m). She also received the Mark Colligan Memorial Award, given to the meet's Most Valuable Men's and Women's Thrower.

Incoming freshmen:

Of Nebraska's four incoming freshmen, two of them are middle blockers. The Nebraska Volleyball Gatorade player of the Year Bekka Allick, who is 6-foot-4 and from Waverly, Neb., is the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2022 by PrepVolleyball.com.

Nebraska's newest addition, Maggie Mendelson, committed to play both volleyball and basketball for the Huskers on Nov. 20. The 6-foot-5 middle, who is Utah's Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year, is the No. 4 overall 2022 prospect and was the No. 1 overall 2023 prospect until she reclassified her grade.

This article is about how the Huskers performed by position in 2021, HuskerOnline will break down each position group for the 2022 season closer to the start of the season.