AMERITAS PLAYERS CHALLENGE
In a tournament hosted by the Nebraska Huskers, Big Red kept their winning ways going and extended their streak to four. Things got started on Friday with Nebraska downing Ohio 3-0 and Santa Clara defeating Wake Forest 3-1. Then, Santa Clara swept Ohio while Nebraska swept Wake Forest to round out Friday night leading into Saturday’s action. Following the results, here are the final standings from the round-robin tournament.
- Nebraska 3-0
- Santa Clara 2-1
- Ohio 1-2
- Wake Forest 0-3
2018 Ameritas Players Challenge All-Tournament Team
Mikaela Foecke, Nebraska (MVP)
Kenzie Maloney, Nebraska (Best Libero)
Lauren Stivrins, Nebraska
Michelle Shaffer, Santa Clara
Lilliana Light, Santa Clara
Lauren Park, Ohio
Caitlyn Della, Wake Fores
OHIO DEF. WAKE FOREST 3-0
- Ohio def. Wake Forest 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 27-25)
- Ohio improves to 2-4; Wake Forest falls to 0-6
- Lincoln, Nebraska | Devaney Center
- Attendance: N/A
- Box Score
- Ohio Release | Wake Forest Release
The preseason MAC favorites took down a foe from the ACC in Wake Forest, as the struggles continued for Wake Forest and Ohio ended the weekend on a positive note.
The combination of Jaime Kosiorek (11 kills, .233, 6 digs), Tia Jimerson (11 kills, .529, 4 blocks) and Lizzie Stephens (7 kills, .250, 8 digs) was too much for Wake Forest to overcome. Macy Reihing (16 digs) also led the back-row defenders.
For Wake Forest, just one player hit the double-digit kill mark in Myca Mitchell (10 kills, .304, 6 digs). Outside of Mitchell, her teammates hit just .011 as a team as the youth of Wake Forest continues to show – 14 players on the team are freshmen or sophomores.
In total, the Bobcats outhit Wake Forest .162 to .072 with more kills (40-32), aces (3-2), blocks (8-6), assists (36-30) and digs (44-43).
This spells trouble for Wake Forest throughout the rest of the way. Not only are the 0-6 with another 0-3 weekend that featured some winnable matches, but they got won just one set for the weekend. It could be a long season in the ACC unless they turn some things around.
For Ohio, their 2-4 record might fool you a bit but they are the preseason favorites in the MAC and had a treacherous first weekend. This next week should be a more winnable schedule, including another ACC foe in Virginia Tech.
#5 NEBRASKA DEF. SANTA CLARA 3-1
- #5 Nebraska def. Santa Clara 3-1 (25-13, 21-25, 25-9, 25-15)
- #5 Nebraska improves to 4-1; Santa Clara falls to 4-3
- Lincoln, Nebraska | Devaney Center
- Attendance: 8,047
- Box Score
- Nebraska Release | Santa Clara Release
Winning the tournament was on the line between these two, and Nebraska was able to take down Santa Clara to extend their winning streak to four – following an opening-season loss to Florida. For Santa Clara, they proved all weekend that they should be a presence in the WCC despite falling to Nebraska.
Pins Jazz Sweet (14 kills, .345, 4 blocks) and tournament MVP Mikaela Foecke (10 kills, .333, 10 digs, 3 aces, 3 blocks) continued to be powerful forces on the outside for the Huskers. Only one other Nebraska player – Lauren Stivrins (7 kills, .286, 3 blocks, 2 aces) – came into the day at over two kills per set though, so Big Red is still searching for another option – potentially Lexi Sun when she returns from injury, which still did not happen this weekend.
Still, they saw some strong individual performances from another hitter in freshman Capri Davis (8 kills, .375, 3 blocks), who came off the bench. Fellow freshman setter Nicklin Hames (37 assists, 13 digs, 5 kills, .400, 3 aces, 2 blocks) also continued to show her versatility and had her third double-double in five tries. Stivrins and Kenzie Maloney (9 digs) earned All-Tournament team honors.
For the most part everything clicked for Nebraska, who in sets one, three and four outscored Santa Clara 75-37. They had a down game in set two though, which seemed to reset their play and regain their attention in what was a 25-9 third set.
Helping the Broncos to win that second though were a pair of freshmen in Michelle Shaffer (8 kills, .333, 6 digs) and Liliana Light (25 assists, 6 digs, 4 kills, .333, 2 blocks), who were both on the all-tournament team. Junior Alexa Dreyer (5 kills, .235, 6 blocks) was also solid. In the end though, too many errors (26 hitting, 8 serving, 9 in reception and 1 ball handling) doomed Santa Clara, with Shaffer logging five serve errors and Michelle Gajdka notching 10 attack errors (-.368).
Overall for the match, Nebraska outhit Santa Clara .291 to .059, had more kills (50-33), digs (47-37) and aces (10-2). That last stat was key for Nebraska – something they were elite at last season – in keeping Santa Clara out of system and getting more free ball opportunities for their offense.
Moving forward, Nebraska will hope this weekend continues to build the confidence of their young core, especially with matches at #15 Creighton and at home against (RV) Iowa State – who is likely soon to be ranked – this week. Santa Clara meanwhile gets Boise State and UC Davis this next week as they try to add to their record.