This is the eighth week of the regular season for the Nebraska volleyball team, and the Huskers are making more of those plays that make coach John Cook get up from his chair — in a good way — to applaud the players.
Plays like a perfectly executed block, or a kill after one of those challenging out-of-system plays, when Nicklin Hames isn’t the setter.
Those are plays that the team spends several hours each week training for, and when it works, it’s really something special.
“When they do things that we train and you see it that’s the best thing as a coach,” Cook said. “Win or lose, if they’re doing what we trained them to do, it’s very rewarding as a coach.”
It was several kills by Madi Kubik in Nebraska’s latest win against Purdue on Wednesday, that got big reactions from Cook and assistant coach Jaylen Reyes. The freshman outside hitter had her best match of the season with 22 kills on a .314 hitting percentage.
Cook was impressed when Kubik hit shots off the blockers’ hands for kills. And Kubik got a lot of kills off those out-of-system sets, when the blockers know where the attack is coming from.
“Just being able to go up and find ways to get kills,” Cook said. “We train that all of the time. When they execute it and see it, it’s great.”
Fifth-ranked Nebraska (14-2, 6-1 Big Ten) will take a three-match winning streak into Saturday’s match against Maryland in College Park.
The winning streak began after Nebraska's second — and worst — loss of the season, a sweep at the hands of Wisconsin.
But Nebraska has improved on offense, and especially on defense, since then.
You have free articles remaining.
“I think we’ve raised our level since Wisconsin,” Cook said. “We got better in the last week and a half. And we got to keep doing that, and that’s what is so hard in this conference is you got to get better every week and keep improving. They’ve come in and worked really hard and I think some of that is paying off.”
Nebraska’s offense has been more consistent and is getting contributions for more players.
In Big Ten matches Nebraska is hitting .290, which is the second-best mark in the conference.
“I think Nicklin is getting better,” said Cook of Hames, Nebraska’s second-year setter. “Nicklin was struggling for a while, she was sick and beat up and she set three really good (sets against Purdue).”
Hames averages 10.72 assists and 2.86 digs per set. She has eight double-doubles on the season.
And on defense, the Huskers have held three straight Big Ten opponents under .100 hitting.
Now after four straight home matches, Nebraska will play its next three on the road against Maryland, Indiana and Purdue.
“We have to get our resiliency muscle fired up and hit the road and perform there,” Cook said. “It’s fun playing here, and I think our players feed off the crowd, and now we got to make our own energy.”
* The Huskers have won nine road matches in a row dating to October of last season.
* Nebraska has won 44 straight matches against unranked opponents dating to 2017.