NU Vball: Huskers host Rutgers, Maryland this weekend

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Huskers Host Rutgers, Maryland on Halloween Weekend

The No. 9 Nebraska volleyball team moves into the second half of its Big Ten schedule with home matches against Rutgers and Maryland this weekend. The Huskers host the Scarlet Knights on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Terrapins on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast on NET and streamed online with a BTN Plus subscription. John Baylor and Diane Mendenhall will have the radio call on Husker Sports Network (107.3 FM in Lincoln and 105.9 FM in Omaha). A free live audio stream and live stats are available at Huskers.com.

Friday’s match is the annual Red Cross "Pass the Bucket" night. Buckets will be passed around the arena to collect donations to support the Red Cross and its services.

Nebraska (16-4, 7-3 Big Ten) is looking to bounce back from a pair of 3-1 home losses last weekend to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The losses were the first for the Huskers at home this season and snapped a 16-match home win streak dating back to last season.

At 7-3 in Big Ten play, the Huskers enter the week in fifth place in the Big Ten standings. However, seven of the 10 matches have come against ranked teams, and four have been against teams ranked in the top 12. Of the Huskers’ next seven opponents, only one (Purdue) is currently ranked.

Rutgers (4-18, 1-9 Big Ten) split a home-and-home series with Maryland last week for its first Big Ten win. Rutgers won 3-2 on its home court on Oct. 21, while Maryland returned the favor on Oct. 24, 3-1. Rutgers had lost 10 in a row before the victory against Maryland. The Scarlet Knights are 1-29 in Big Ten play since joining the conference last season.

Maryland (11-13, 1-9 Big Ten) earned its first Big Ten win, 3-1 over Rutgers on Oct. 24, to snap a 12-match losing streak. The Terrapins have surpassed their win total from last season (10). Maryland has faced seven ranked opponents this season and is 0-7 with one set won (at Purdue on Oct. 3).

The Huskers are 1-1 all-time against Rutgers, though this will be the first meeting in Lincoln. NU won 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-18) last year on Oct. 31 at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ lone win in the series came in 1978.

Nebraska is 5-0 against Maryland. The Terrapins gave NU a fight in Lincoln last year, as the Huskers won 3-1 (25-17, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18) on Nov. 16. That came two weeks after a Husker sweep at Maryland on Nov. 1 (25-23, 25-22, 25-16).

ABOUT THE HUSKERS

• Nebraska leads the Big Ten with 16.31 digs per set. The Huskers also lead the Big Ten in kills per set overall (14.32) and are 12th nationally.

• In Big Ten play, the Huskers are second in blocks per set (3.00), digs (16.34 per set) and third in opponent hitting percentage (.174).

• The Huskers are hitting .256 on the season to rank third in the Big Ten and 36th nationally. NU is holding opponents to .178 hitting on the season.

• Two-time All-American Kadie Rolfzen is putting up a team-best 3.20 kills per set along with 2.73 digs per set.

• Libero Justine Wong-Orantes averages 4.69 digs per set, third-most in the Big Ten. Wong-Orantes has a remarkable 5.18 digs per set in 10 conference matches to lead the league.

• Middle blocker Amber Rolfzen leads the team with 93 blocks. Her 1.55 blocks per set is first in the Big Ten and 11th nationally.

• Setter Kelly Hunter guides the Husker attack with 11.43 assists per set to rank second in the Big Ten and 14th in the nation. In Big Ten play, she leads all players with 11.61 assists per set.

• True freshman outside hitter Mikaela Foecke averages 3.04 kills per set and has won two Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week honors.

• Outside hitter Kelsey Fien, an All-Big Ten performer in 2014, is averaging 2.57 kills per set.

• Senior middle blocker Cecilia Hall is putting up 1.69 kills per set on the season with a team-best .283 hitting percentage.

SCOUTING RUTGERS

Rutgers is led by Meme Fletcher, who ranks fourth in the Big Ten this season with 3.92 kills per set. Lauren Cloyd adds 2.28 kills per set. The Scarlet Knights are last in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.167) and opponent hitting percentage allowed (.270) this season. Setter Anna Sudbury averages 8.75 assists per set and libero Ali Schroeter puts up 3.12 digs per set.

SCOUTING MARYLAND

Adreene Elliott leads the team with 3.39 kills per set. Abby Bentz and Kelsey Wicinski each have 22 aces this season entering Friday’s match at Iowa. The Terrapins have been without senior captain outside hitter Emily Fraik (injury) since Sept. 17. Maryland is 13th in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.202) and opponent hitting percentage allowed (.232) overall this season. The Terps lead the Big Ten in service aces (129) for an average of 1.48 per set this season. They have 42 aces in Big Ten play for a league-leading average of 1.44 per set.

ROLFZEN ECLIPSES 1,000 CAREER KILLS

Junior outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen became the 21st Husker to reach 1,000 career kills when she did so against Wisconsin on Oct. 24. Rolfzen is just the ninth Husker to do so before her senior season and the first since Jordan Larson as a junior in 2007.

• A two-time third-team All-American, Rolfzen continues to be one of the top six-rotation players in the Big Ten with 3.20 kills and 2.73 digs per set this season.

• Rolfzen has a team-high 33 career double-doubles and was the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 21.

• Rolfzen is a two-time All-Big Ten selection and academic All-Big Ten honoree.

WONG-ORANTES GAINING RECOGNITION

Junior libero Justine Wong-Orantes ranks sixth in school history with 1,200 career digs entering Friday’s match. Wong-Orantes is in the midst of one of the best defensive seasons by a Husker all-time:

• Wong-Orantes has 347 digs on the season for an average of 4.69 per set, which would be the fourth-best single-season mark in school history. Assistant coach Dani Busboom Kelly holds the school record at 5.04 digs per set in 2006. Current U.S. National Team member Kayla Banwarth holds the other top marks: 4.96 in 2009 and 4.81 in 2010.

• Wong-Orantes surpassed 1,000 career digs at Iowa State on Sept. 19, becoming the fastest Husker to reach 1,000 digs, doing so in just 75 matches.

• Wong-Orantes was named the espnW National Player of the Week after a career-high 30 digs in a comeback win at No. 1 Penn State on Oct. 2.

• Wong-Orantes earned two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week awards in the month of October, the most recent following 27 digs at Illinois, a career high for a three-set match.

• Wong-Orantes has played in every set in 65 consecutive matches dating back to her freshman season in 2013.

POSITION SWITCH PAYS OFF FOR AMBER ROLFZEN

Junior Amber Rolfzen made a position switch from outside hitter to middle blocker in the offseason, and the return has been significant.

• Rolfzen leads the Big Ten in blocking and ranks 11th nationally with 1.55 blocks per set.

• Rolfzen’s block average is the best by a Husker since Melissa Elmer’s school-record 2.17 in 2005.

• Rolfzen posted at least five blocks in eight straight matches from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23. The last Husker to do that was three-time All-American Melissa Elmer in 2005.

• Rolfzen was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 12 following a pair of eight-block matches along with a season-best 12 kills against Michigan.

HUSKERS TURN TO SOPHOMORE SETTER HUNTER

Redshirt sophomore Kelly Hunter coordinates the Husker attack with 11.43 assists per set. The Papillion, Neb., native – who was high school teammates with Husker twins Kadie and Amber Rolfzen – has helped the Huskers play at a faster tempo this season and has the Huskers hitting .256 on the season after hitting .236 in 2014. Although she played sparingly in 16 matches as a freshman in 2013, Hunter is seeing the first regular match action of her career after redshirting last year behind senior Mary Pollmiller. Hunter’s impact was felt immediately as the season began:

• Hunter was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week on Aug. 31 and the Nebraska Invitational MVP on opening weekend after a 50-assist, 11-dig, eight-kill performance against Pittsburgh.

• Hunter had a career-high 57 assists and nine kills in a 3-2 comeback win against Oregon on Sept. 5.

• Hunter has notched 50 or more assists five times this season.

• Hunter has seven double-doubles this season, including two last weekend against Minnesota and Wisconsin.

FRESHMAN FOECKE MAKES INSTANT IMPACT

True freshman Mikaela Foecke, PrepVolleyball.com’s No. 2 recruit, has been an impact player for the Huskers since the beginning of the season. Foecke is second on the team in kills per set (3.04) and service aces (14). She is also hitting .267, the best by an NU hitter.

• Foecke is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor in back-to-back weeks on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. Her first honor came after hitting .632 vs. Georgia Tech with 12 kills and no errors. Her second honor came following 13 kills and four digs in back-to-back matches at Creighton and Iowa State.

• Foecke had a career-high 22 kills in a 3-2 comeback win at Penn State on Oct. 2.

• After switching from the right side to her more natural left side, Foecke recorded six consecutive matches of double-digit kills from Sept. 5 to Sept. 19.

• Foecke served five aces in back-to-back sweeps at Northwestern and Illinois on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17. Her five aces in a three-set match were the most by a Husker since 2004.

HUSKERS COME IN AT NO. 9 IN AVCA POLL

Nebraska is ranked ninth in the AVCA Coaches Poll after losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin last weekend dropped them six spots from No. 3. The Huskers had been ranked No. 3 for two straight weeks, their best ranking since Oct. 14, 2012.

• Nebraska has appeared in all 488 AVCA Coaches Polls since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every poll all-time.

B1G CONFERENCE LEADING THE WAY

The Big Ten continues to set the tone as the top volleyball conference, with five teams in the top 11 of the NCAA RPI this week. Nebraska comes in at No. 7 this week. Other Big Ten teams in the top 11 are No. 4 Ohio State, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 8 Penn State and No. 11 Wisconsin. Five other teams rank among the top 34, giving the conference 10 teams in the top 34 of the RPI. No other conference has more than five.