Huskers Chase B1G Title on Senior Night
The top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team plays its final match of the regular season on Saturday against the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines at 7 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers will recognize their four seniors - Andie Malloy, Amber Rolfzen, Kadie Rolfzen and Justine Wong-Orantes - following the match.
Nebraska enters the match with a 26-2 overall record and 17-2 mark in Big Ten play, which puts them in a tie for first with Wisconsin at the top of the conference standings. The Huskers can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win over the Wolverines, who are 22-9 overall and 11-8 in the Big Ten after a sweep of No. 14 Michigan State on Wednesday night.
If the Huskers win and Minnesota beats Wisconsin in Minneapolis, the Huskers will claim the outright Big Ten title, their first conference championship since 2011. If the Huskers and Wisconsin both win, they would share the regular-season title, despite the Huskers’ 3-0 win over the Badgers on October 21 in Lincoln. Minnesota is still alive to share the Big Ten title, but would need to beat Wisconsin and have the Huskers fall to Michigan, creating a three-way tie at 17-3.
Saturday’s match will air on NET and will be streamed at BTN2GO.com. The Husker IMG Sports Network will broadcast the match on HSN affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. John Baylor will have the play-by-play and Diane Mendenhall will provide color commentary.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will take place on Sunday at 8 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU. Should the Huskers be selected as one of the top-four overall seeds, they would not only host the first and seconds rounds next weekend, they would also have a chance to host an NCAA regional the following weekend should they advance. As of earlier this week, standing-room only tickets remain for the potential NCAA first and second rounds in Lincoln. They can be purchased through Huskers.com or the Nebraska ticket office.
• Nebraska is 12-3 all-time against Michigan and defeated the Wolverines 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 to begin Big Ten play this season in Ann Arbor on September 23. Nebraska has won four in a row over Michigan.
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 17th season at Nebraska and 24th overall season as a head coach. Cook is 494-64 at NU and 655-137 overall.
• Mark Rosen is 361-230 in his 18th year as head coach at Michigan.
About the Huskers
• The Huskers are ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll, where they have spent 12 of 14 weeks this season.
• With one more win, Nebraska would reach 18 Big Ten wins for the first time since joining the conference in 2011. The 2011 and 2015 Huskers went 17-3.
• Nebraska leads the Big Ten in kills (14.34 per set) and hitting percentage (.293) and ranks third nationally in hitting percentage.
• Defensively, the Huskers boast the top opponent hitting percentage in the conference at .142 and rank fourth in the nation. The Huskers are second in the Big Ten in digs (14.76 per set) and blocks (2.89 per set).
• Nebraska’s defense in conference play has been stellar. The Huskers lead all teams in blocks (2.97 per set) and opponent hitting percentage (.148) in conference matches.
• Kadie Rolfzen is three kills shy of reaching 1,500 for her career. Only six Huskers have surpassed 1,500 kills.
• Justine Wong-Orantes is seven digs away from becoming the first Husker to record 1,800 career digs.
• The Huskers are now 3-1 in five-set matches this season after Wednesday’s loss at Minnesota. It also marked the first time since 2012 that the Huskers led 2-0 and lost the match.
• Nebraska’s loss at Minnesota ended its 17-match road winning streak and 24-match winning streak in all matches played away from the Devaney Center.
• Nebraska’s 213 attacks at Minnesota was its most attacks in a match since 2004.
• Nebraska is 5-0 this season when losing the first set.
• Nebraska’s .885 win percentage under head coach John Cook is the best by any program since Cook took over in the 2000 season.
• Since Cook became head coach at Nebraska in 2000, the Huskers have won at least 20 straight matches nine separate times.
• Nebraska has won 26 matches this season, marking the 16th time in his 17 years that Cook’s Huskers have reached at least 25 wins.
• The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air on Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Huskers will likely host the first and second rounds next week at the Bob Devaney Sports Center with dates and times to be determined.
• Michigan enters the match with a 22-9 overall record and 11-8 mark in conference play. Abby Cole leads Michigan with 3.18 kills per set and is hitting .327. Jenna Lerg is second in the Big Ten with 4.21 digs per set. Michigan is hitting .260 this season and allowing opponents to hit .202.
Huskers Ranked No. 1 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is the unanimous No. 1 in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll, its fifth straight week holding the top spot.
• The Huskers began the year at No. 1 in the preseason poll for the fifth time in school history (2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2015) and spent the first six weeks of the season at No. 1. The 2006 squad went wire-to-wire to win the national title. This year’s Husker team is aiming to become the first in program history to repeat as champions.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 98 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 455 times, which is the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has been ranked in the top 10 in the last 31 polls dating back to December of 2014.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 508 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.
First-Team All-American Kadie Rolfzen Closing Out Husker Career in Style
• Senior outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen was named a first-team AVCA All-American in 2015, her third career All-America honor but first selection to the first team. Rolfzen was also a unanimous All-Big Ten selection, her third straight season on the team.
• Rolfzen leads the Huskers with 3.16 kills per set and adds 2.45 digs per set. She has 45 career double-doubles, has served a career-best 20 aces this season and is hitting .294.
• An NCAA Senior CLASS Award finalist, Rolfzen ranks seventh in school history with 1,497 career kills and is seventh in career digs with 1,188. She joins Jordan Larson as the only Huskers to rank in the top seven all-time in career kills and digs.
• Rolfzen, who was chosen to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 7 team this year, was named Big Ten Player of the Week on October 17 after posting 21 kills and 11 digs at Ohio State and nine kills and eight digs at Maryland.
• Against New Mexico on September 10, Rolfzen became the fifth Husker all-time to reach 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs.
• Rolfzen was named the most valuable player at the Nebraska Invite, Lobo Classic and Ameritas Players Challenge this season.
• Rolfzen was not only productive on the court in 2015, she excelled off of it. The graphic design major posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in 2015-16 to earn Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors.
Amber Rolfzen Building on Breakout Season at Middle Blocker
• Senior Amber Rolfzen made a position switch from outside hitter to middle blocker before the 2015 season, and the switch resulted in second-team AVCA All-America honors and the Big Ten blocks title for the Papillion, Nebraska native.
• Rolfzen is averaging 1.98 kills per set and a team-high 1.42 blocks per set. Rolfzen ranks third in the Big Ten and 18th nationally in blocks per set. She is hitting .334.
• Rolfzen picked up a plethora of awards the week following her standout performances vs. Wisconsin and Minnesota on October 21 and 23, respectively. Rolfzen had a career-high 16 kills in both of those matches and hit .560 with nine total blocks. She was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week, espnW National Player of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week.
• Rolfzen ranks sixth in school history on NU’s career block assists chart with 477. She has been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week twice this season and five times in her career. She ranks ninth in school history in career blocks with 526.
• Rolfzen was named to the All-America Second Team and the All-Big Ten Team after posting 1.58 blocks per set in 2015, which led the Big Ten and ranked fourth nationally. Her block average was the best by a Husker since Melissa Elmer’s school-record 2.17 in 2005.
• Rolfzen was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team after 10 kills and four blocks with a .625 hitting percentage in the championship win over Texas.
• Rolfzen accumulated three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors in 2015 and has one so far in 2016 after 2.33 blocks per set against Purdue and Indiana.
Wong-Orantes Positioning Herself as All-Time Husker Great
• Senior libero Justine Wong-Orantes burst onto the national scene in 2015 with third-team AVCA All-America honors and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award.
• Wong-Orantes is averaging 4.14 digs per set this season and broke the school record for digs in a single match with 35 against Minnesota on October 23. The previous record was 34 by Maria Hedbeck in 1993.
• Wong-Orantes is Nebraska’s career leader in digs with 1,793. She surpassed Kayla Banwarth’s previous career record of 1,706 in the win at Penn State on November 4.
• Banwarth is the starting libero for the U.S. Women’s National Team, and Wong-Orantes is trending on that path. Wong-Orantes played with the U.S. Women’s National Team at the Pan American Cup over the summer, averaging 4.8 digs per set while helping the Americans to the bronze medal.
• The Cypress, California native averaged 4.55 digs per set with a total of 555 digs in 2015, the third most by a Husker in school history.
Experienced Hunter Leads Huskers as Captain Again
• Despite being in her first season as the Huskers’ starting setter last year, Kelly Hunter was picked as one of the team captains. Now a junior, Hunter is the Huskers’ lone captain as selected by head coach John Cook.
• Hunter is averaging 11.20 assists and has served 23 aces, second-most on the team behind Annika Albrecht’s 24. Hunter ranks third in the Big Ten and 14th nationally in assists per set. She leads the team in double-doubles this season with seven.
• Hunter has been named Big Ten Setter of the Week four times this season, giving her six career awards.
• The Papillion, Nebraska native guided the Huskers to the national title in 2015 and received AVCA All-America honorable mention. She was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team after posting 42 assists, four digs and three blocks in the championship match.
• Hunter averaged 11.64 assists per set last season and totaled 1,501, the third-most in the nation. She had 10 double-doubles and was the Big Ten Setter of the Week twice.
Foecke In Rare Company
• Mikaela Foecke was the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player last season, becoming just the third freshman to earn the honor, after 19 kills on .385 hitting in the championship win against Texas. The other freshmen to win the award were Deja McClendon (Penn State, 2010) and Kerri Walsh (Stanford, 1996)
• This season, Foecke is averaging 2.82 kills per set and is hitting at a .300 clip, significantly outpacing her .277 average as a freshman.
• Foecke received AVCA All-America honorable mention and was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten Freshman team in 2015.
• Following her freshman season, Foecke was a finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award, presented annually to the top amateur athlete in the United States.
Holman Strengthens Huskers’ Middle
• Junior middle blocker Briana Holman made her first official appearance in a collegiate match since December 2014 when she took the court with the Huskers at the season-opening VERT Challenge. Holman transferred from LSU to Nebraska but did not receive her scholarship release, so she was forced to sit out the 2015 season.
• Holman is averaging 2.40 kills and 1.20 blocks per set. She is hitting .346 on the season.
• On opening weekend, Holman had an immediate impact. She was named the espnW National Player of the Week after averaging 2.57 kills and 1.43 blocks per set while hitting .571 in the wins over Florida and Texas. Holman had 10 kills and seven blocks against the Gators, and eight kills and three blocks against Texas with a .727 hitting percentage.
• Holman was a first-team AVCA All-American at LSU in 2014 with 3.94 kills and 1.47 blocks per set. She was a two-time All-SEC performer for the Tigers and represented the U.S. Collegiate National Team at the World University Games in South Korea in July 2015.
Malloy Brings Experience to Husker Roster
• Senior transfer Andie Malloy gives the Huskers more depth and experience at outside hitter. A two-time All-Big 12 performer at Baylor, Malloy earned her degree in 2015 and had one season of eligibility remaining.
• Malloy is averaging 2.61 kills per set for the Big Red. She had a season-best 19 kills at Penn State and was a member of the Lobo Classic all-tournament team in September.
• Malloy came to Nebraska after ranking second in the Big 12 in kills per set (3.89) and double-doubles (17) in 2015.
Huskers On Television
• The Nebraska volleyball team is set to receive extensive television coverage in 2016. The Huskers make 16 regular-season TV appearances.
• The Huskers have one match on ESPN2, eight broadcasts on Big Ten Network and seven more on NET. All 10 of the Huskers’ Big Ten home matches are televised.
• Any match on BTN or NET is also streamed online at BTN2GO.com. For non-televised Big Ten matches, an online stream is available for purchase through BTN Plus at BTN2GO.com.
Huskers Tabbed Big Ten Favorites
• The 14 Big Ten head coaches selected Nebraska as the unanimous favorite in the Big Ten Conference Preseason Poll. The Huskers finished second in the Big Ten in 2015 with a 17-3 record and are trying to win the conference crown for the first time since 2011.
• Seniors Amber Rolfzen, Kadie Rolfzen and Justine Wong-Orantes were picked to the All-Big Ten Preseason Team. The Rolfzen twins were All-Big Ten selections last year, while Wong-Orantes earned honorable mention but was selected as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Kadie Rolfzen was one of four unanimous selections to the preseason team.
Cook Adds to Legacy
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 17th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2016. He has led the Huskers to three national championships, six final fours, 10 conference championships and 14 top-10 final rankings since 2000. Cook has 655 career wins and is the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA history.
• Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .885 win percentage in that time (494-64).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 45 All-Americans and 18 Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year.
• Cook is one of only four active coaches - and one of six all-time - to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award.
Busboom Kelly Celebrates Second National Title - One as Coach, One as Player
• Regarded as one of the best recruiters in the nation, assistant coach Dani Busboom Kelly has helped Nebraska’s resurgence to the forefront of college volleyball over the last four seasons, as the Huskers captured the 2015 NCAA National Championship at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, the same place Busboom Kelly won the national title as a player for the Huskers in 2006.
• Busboom Kelly coached two AVCA All-Americans and two honorable-mention selections in 2015. Kadie Rolfzen was a first-team AVCA All-American, while Justine Wong-Orantes was a third-team selection for the first time, as well as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after a sparkling season at libero. Setter Kelly Hunter and outside hitter Mikaela Foecke earned All-American honorable mention, and Foecke was the NCAA National Championship most outstanding player, just the third freshman in NCAA Division I Volleyball history to earn the honor.
• In her four seasons at Nebraska, Busboom Kelly has helped the Huskers to four NCAA regional final appearances. In 2015, Nebraska setter Kelly Hunter was third in the nation in assists (1,501), while Justine Wong-Orantes was second in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.57) and moved to No. 4 in school history in career digs.
Tamas’ Bring Instant Impact
• Chris Tamas is in his second season as a Husker assistant coach, while his wife, Jennifer (Joines) Tamas, is a volunteer assistant. The two came to NU in May from Cal Poly, where they spent two seasons in the same roles. Both Chris and Jen are former U.S. National Team captains. Chris was a first-team AVCA All-American in 2003 at Pacific, while Jen was the Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2003 at Pacific.
• Chris Tamas’ impact on the program was felt immediately, as the Huskers won the 2015 NCAA Championship in his first season on the bench. With Tamas guiding the Huskers’ block and defense, Amber Rolfzen was an AVCA second-team All-American and an All-Big Ten middle blocker. The Huskers posted the top opponent hitting percentage in the Big Ten (.167) and were second in blocks per set (2.94). Rolfzen’s 1.58 blocks per set ranked fourth in the nation and was the highest block total by a Husker since 2005.
Husker Fans Set Attendance Standard Once Again
• Nebraska fans are poised to lead the nation in attendance for a fourth straight season as their 8,224 average per match is outpacing the rest of the nation.
• For the third straight season, the Huskers led the nation in attendance in 2015, this time with a new NCAA attendance record of 8,206. NU’s average was 1,301 more than runner-up Hawaii.
• In 2013, the Huskers led the nation in attendance (8,175) for the first time since 1992, ending Hawaii’s 21-year reign as the national leader.
• The Huskers repeated as attendance champions in 2014 with 8,083 fans per match, which included a school-record 8,585 fans at the Oct. 3 win against Penn State.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top three nationally in attendance every season since 1990 (26 straight seasons).
• The Huskers have sold out every regular-season match since 2001, a streak of 218 consecutive matches, the longest sellout streak in the history of NCAA women’s athletics.
• The Devaney Center has hosted the three largest regular-season crowds in NCAA history and seven of the 10 largest.