HuskerOnline - Three takes from No. 6 Nebraska volleyball's 3-1 loss to No. 16 Stanford
other sports Edit

Three takes from No. 6 Nebraska volleyball's 3-1 loss to No. 16 Stanford

No. 6 Nebraska volleyball (6-2) fell to No. 16 Stanford (5-2) at Maples Pavilion in four sets (19-25, 25-12, 21-25, 23-25). This is the Huskers' second consecutive loss of the season.

Head coach John Cook said on Huskers Radio Network that he is happy with how his team competed against the Cardinal.

Here are my three takeaways from this matchup:

Nicklin Hames, Kayla Caffey and Ally Batenhorst get ready for a serve against Creighton
Nicklin Hames, Kayla Caffey and Ally Batenhorst get ready for a serve against Creighton (Abby Barmore)

Growing pains

The Huskers' starting lineup looked very different on Tuesday. Four freshmen (libero Lexi Rodriguez and outside hitters Ally Batenhorst, Lindsay Krause and Whitney Lauenstein) found themselves on the list.

Veteran left-side outside hitters Lexi Sun and Madi Kubik did not start or play prominent roles against Stanford. Sun served for the middle blocker in the first set and Kubik took over in the remaining three.

With three in-experienced outside hitters on the court, there are going to be growing pains.

Batenhorst had 10 kills with six errors and hit .098. Krause also contributed 10 kills but had seven kills, hitting .088 on the match. Lauenstein had five kills with two errors to hit .176 against Stanford.

Cook said he still hasn't seen the consistency and low-error performances he wants from his outside hitters.

Sun and Kubik hit basically zero against Utah, and Batenhorst and Krause did the same on Tuesday. Lauenstein hit a little better against Stanford but not high enough. She also had roughly half the swings Krause and Batenhorst had.

It's hard for Nebraska fans to watch their seemingly invincible team lose matches, let alone two in a row. However, it's not the end of the world.

Cook kept the starting lineup intact, even though there were some struggles, for a reason. He is a big picture guy and sees that getting his freshmen experience in pre-season matches, big ones at that, will help Nebraska tremendously down the road when it counts the most.

Even with the stiff competition, he still wants his players to know he trusts them and doesn't want them "looking over their shoulder worried they're going to get pulled if they're not doing well," he said.

While the Huskers have dropped two close games within four days, there is a lot of volleyball left to be played.

Passing breakdown

For most of the game, the Huskers struggled with returning Stanford's serves and didn't have good passes when getting them up. This meant Hames was running around the court trying to set her hitters. Never good for a setter.

But in the second set, the Huskers turned the tables and blew out Stanford 25-12. The biggest difference was passing and serving.

On Huskers Radio Network after the game, Cook said that because of Stanford's fast offense, it was important for NU to serve tough to break down the Cardinal passing game.

In the second set, Stanford had four errors in a row trying to cope with NU's improved play.

However, in the next two sets, the same passing problems with the Huskers arose. Stanford put a lot of pressure on Nebraska from the service line.

Cook said the difference in the sets was the passing breakdown in the first and third sets, which allowed for big runs by Stanford.

Despite the passing issues, Cook said setter Nicklin Hames had "her best match setting of the year."

"She did a really nice job of setting the ball and not always on perfect passes," he said.

Hames had 43 assists, 11 digs, one kill and two block assists.

While Stanford had some great servers (Cook said he hoped Kipp's would just go out), Nebraska needs to find a way to help Hames out with better passes. Their opponent's serving will not get any easier as the season continues.

Added pressure

The Huskers host No. 5 Louisville on Saturday at the Devaney Sports Center.

After two consecutive losses in less than a week, it's important for morale to beat the Cardinals.

The Husker's team has a lot of potential and they know that. However, Nebraska volleyball rarely losses and they need to get back to what they do best.

If NU doesn't come out victorious against Louisville, again, it will not be the end of the world. But, it could create some much-needed momentum and confidence for this squad heading into the extremely competitive conference play.

Either way, with four freshmen competing for starting roles, this team will have another chance to prove themselves and iron out a more consistent starting lineup.