No. 1 Nebraska Highlights A Weekend At Rec Hall
Exactly three weeks ago, I wrote this. Right now, I could essentially replace “Illinois” with “Nebraska” throughout the article and that would probably suffice in describing this upcoming Saturday Night; however before all of the focus falls on No.1 Nebraska (17-1, 10-0), it is worth mentioning that the No. 8 Penn State Women’s Volleyball team (15-5, 8-2) will face Iowa (11-12, 1-9) tonight at 7 p.m. The Lions will hopefully not overlook the Hawkeyes who they defeated (25-23, 25-23, 25-14) on September 21st in Iowa City, but could you blame them if they did? Iowa has lost five straight matches. They have won only four sets overall since Big Ten play began. Going from facing Iowa to Nebraska will be like transitoning from jogging up a hill to climbing a mountain.
When the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten, a yearly football rivalry received much attention, but one was bound to form between the two storied Women’s Volleyball programs as well. The first matchup of the season did not disappoint as Nebraska prevailed (25-18, 25-16, 23-25, 19-25, 15-10) in a five-set thriller in Lincoln. Tomorrow night, Penn State has an opportunity for redemption and another chance to beat a top ranked team after falling just short against the Illini three weeks ago.
In the first matchup, Ariel Scott nearly carried Penn State to a come from behind win with her twenty three kills and a .360 hitting percentage. Deja McClendon contributed sixteen kills, but only had a .109 hitting percentage. Both will have to be at their absolute best tomorrow night for the Lions to pull the upest.
Penn State enters the weekend on a four game winning streak, and if it’s not up to five going into the Nebraska match, something will be seriously wrong. It also does not hurt that Nebraska will also be in action tonight at Ohio State before traveling to State College. Led by juniors Gina Mancusco and Hannah Werth along with sophomore Morgan Broekhuis, they boast a 15-match winning streak but were taken to a fifth set by both Minnesota and Michigan State before defeating Illinois in four sets to earn the number one overall ranking.
Penn State was almost good enough to defeat the Illini three weeks ago. Countless times, it appeared they were going to pull off the victory before ultimately coming up just short. They will have to be even better against a Nebraska team that is not likely to ignore mistakes; however, it would not at all be surprising to see another five-set classic.
Nebraska was the last team to win a national championship in 2006, before Penn State’s four year reign began. Is a win tomorrow night necessary? No, but is it important? No doubt.
Much is being made about the decision to make the football game against Illinois tomorrow a whiteout. Perhaps, after the final whistle, we can transport it to Rec Hall for the 8 p.m. start.
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