We have data now, but we have no context. That makes a lot of organizing extremely difficult at best and a fool’s errand at worst. So, I’ve given a lot of thought to some of these teams but very little to others. Alas, sometimes you just have to throw things at the board and see what sticks.
- Russ Rose
- Washington State
- San Diego
- Florida State
- Colorado State
I don’t have much today. There are simply no connections between the pods in our directional graph. Some teams did stuff that I thought probably deserved some movement and got moved. Some teams did very little to prove or disprove my initial assumptions and stayed put. I was in Lincoln at VERT(Longer article to come.) and didn’t see much beyond the four teams that were there. I spent most of the rest of the weekend traveling to and from Lincoln. The official post on VolleyTalk courtesy of user vbprisoner can be found here. The AVCA’s vastly inferior poll can be found here.
Nebraska’s Place in the Fray
Tough to tell right now. The first match for Big Red was pretty different than the clean volleyball we’ve come to expect from the Huskers. However, with all the new players and the losses sustained by graduation and transfers, it wasn’t a totally unexpected start. Statistically, it wasn’t even that different from Nebraska’s appearance in the VERT Challenge in 2017. Obviously, I’m not expecting this team to win a National Championship. That is an unfair expectation at any time, and doubly unfair when half of the team is new to the program. It does; however, illustrate the incredible transition a team can make from opening day to tournament time.
That’s why they play the games. That’s why we watch the games.
The Omaha challenge was last week and I was there for all but one game. Nebraska, Kansas State, Northern Iowa all went 2-1 in the competition while the host UNO went 0-3. However, that’s getting ahead of myself. Let’s first start off with the games.
→ Kansas St. vs. Omaha (2017-09-14)
Game 1. Kansas State and Omaha. The Wildcats have fallen off a bit from their typical results. Usually, near Top 25 status, ViPR started off the week rating the Wildcats around the sixty mark. Omaha started off just beyond 210th. Neither team was particularly clean during the match, but Kansas State’s superior talent did show throughout. Omaha, for their part, played above their predicted level and won the second set handily. Setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy was the star for the Mavericks and did her part taking the second spot in the WPA Top Performers and contributing thirty-four assists and twenty digs. Bryna Vogel of KSU took Top Performer awards in the top spot by terminating on thirteen of twenty-eight swings with only two errors. She also added sixteen digs and two blocks.
Omaha may have lost the game, but they were competitive throughout the game and as it would turn out later, the weekend.
→ Nebraska vs. Kansas St. (2017-09-15)
Game 2. After a hotly contested first set, Nebraska cruised through the rest of the match and completed a comfortable 3-0 sweep of KSU. Nebraska swept the Top Performers list as well with Kelly Hunter, Annika Albrecht, and Kenzie Maloney taking the honors. Kelly Hunter’s thirty-seven assists, eleven digs, three kills, three blocks, and a service ace were enough for top honors. Annika added an ace, two blocks, six kills, and fifteen digs. Kenzie Maloney continued a streak of strong performances from her Libero position with sixteen digs.
Both Husker middles had a strong day with Briana Holman acquiring ten kills on eighteen swings with one error and Lauren Stivrins terminating ten times on fourteen swings with three errors.
Kansas State’s Kylee Zumach stands out for the Wildcats with ten kills on twenty-seven swings with only two errors. She added an ace and two blocks for a solid day all-around.
→ Omaha vs. UNI (2017-09-15)
Game 3. The last match on Friday between Omaha and Northern Iowa was almost a repeat of Omaha’s previous match with Kansas State. Both games ended in 3-1 losses for the Mavericks, but that one was a comfortable second set win by Omaha. In this case, Omaha took the second set 25-19.
Bri Weber takes the Top Performer crown in this game despite having a bit of a rough day hitting. Weber had fourteen kills on forty-one swings with eight errors but also acquired a team-high twenty-three digs and an ace. Bri wasn’t the only hitter to struggle as both teams found terminating to be tough sledding. Omaha hit .105 for the match and Northern Iowa managed only .160 in what was a decidedly defensive struggle.
Claire Mountjoy’s match-high twenty-eight digs propelled her into Third Place on the Top Performers list.
→ Nebraska vs. UNI (2017-09-16)
Game 4. Northern Iowa’s upset of tenth ranked Nebraska was the only game of the weekend I did not see but don’t worry I was watching a game that was equally frustrating for Husker fans if not more so. Watching the football team spot NIU two touchdowns and fail to recover was pain enough.
Statistically, the game was exceptionally close. The teams scored the exact same amount of points and a quick back-of-the-napkin calculation tells me that UNI edged out Nebraska by 0.017 in ViPR Point Efficiency. A razor-thin margin in statistics, but due to Nebraska dominance in the third set, not so close in actual win probability added.
Bri Weber once again stands out for Northern Iowa with fifteen kills and six errors on forty-five swings. Adding nine digs, four assists, three aces, and a block completed a very good day for Weber and led UNI. The three aces for UNI were not the only ones on the score sheet for the Panthers as Taylor Hedges added another three and one apiece from Heather Hook and Piper Thomas. Nebraska’s struggles in serve-receive were not alone as it appears that they struggled to pass and dig. Despite having one more dig and the same number of kills, Nebraska took five fewer swings than Nothern Iowa which suggest some control issues on the back side of Nebraska’s court. A team that had graded out as the best defensive team in the country by ViPR’s viewing coming into the weekend, Nebraska’s struggles on the back end of this match must be concerning to those hoping for a deep tournament run.
→ Kansas St. vs. UNI (2017-09-16)
Game 5. Kansas State would top UNI in what was a game of runs back and forth. Those runs led to a fairly high scoring affair by WPA standards as Bryna Vogel led the way. Vogel accumulated fifteen kills on thirty-six swings and committed only three errors. To that, she added twenty-three digs, six blocks, and an ace. Bri Weber once again led the way for Northen Iowa with twenty-two kills on sixty-two swings and eight errors. Weber completed her double-double with seventeen digs.
Both teams struggled to stop long runs from their opponents during this match and momentum shifted quickly and completely. After the first four tumultuous sets, the fifth set was a breather for Kansas State when they took control early and never let go of it. Their five-set victory completed the cycle between Nebraska, UNI, and Kansas State. Nebraska beat Kansas State on Friday afternoon and lost to Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon. Northern Iowa beat Nebraska on Saturday afternoon and lost to Kansas State on Saturday night. And finally, Kansas State lost to Nebraska on Friday afternoon and beat Northern Iowa on Saturday night.
→ Nebraska vs. Omaha (2017-09-16)
Game 6. Nebraska concluded the Omaha Challenge by sweeping Omaha. After a hotly contested first set where Omaha had the chance to take the set, Nebraska cruised to comfortable wins in sets two and three.
Annika Albrecht takes top honors for the match with fifteen kills on thirty-two sings with three errors. Sydney O’Shaughnessy once again led the way for Omaha with twenty-three assists and nine digs.
Unfortunately, Nebraska’s story of the match was Briana Holman. The senior middle blocker went down with an ankle injury in the third set and was in obvious pain as she left the court. According to Coach Cook during his weekly press conference, Nebraska will be playing it carefully on just when Briana will be back. It appears to be an ankle sprain and Briana could be back at any time, but the staff will undoubtedly be cautious with the senior going forward.
Nebraska starts off the weekend continuing their storied history with Penn State on Friday at State College. The now fourteenth ranked Huskers will take on the second ranked Nitany Lions on BTN at 7 PM Central.
On Saturday, Nebraska will take on Rutgers.
The second week of volleyball season is in the books and this is who lit up the ViPR Win Probability Added sheet.
All-Around Division 1
Heather Hook of UNI takes the crown for the highest base score for WPA. She scored an impressive 2.2865 in UNI’s four set victory over USC. Getting the job done all over the court with 50 assists, 8 kills on 16 swings, 10 digs, 4 block assists and a service ace. I suspect a partridge in a pear tree may have been watching that performance. It was a performance which also takes the award for the highest accumulated score per set.
→ Southern California vs. UNI (2017-09-01)
Specialists of Division 1
The highest per set attack score was produced by Green Bay’s Lydia DeWeese. Scoring eighteen true kills on thirty-one attempts with only two hitting errors in a competitive three set loss to Butler. All three sets were won with two point margins and the third set scored 56 total points.
→ Butler vs. Green Bay (2017-09-02)
Minnesota’s own Samantha Seliger Swenson takes home the award for the highest setter score. Samantha captured the award by slightly more than a thousandth per set, just edging Duquesne’s Dani Suiter. A comfortable three set sweep of Tennessee provided the stat line for Gopher setter.
Game Not Available
Swenson accumulated forty-nine assists in three sets during a performance game that saw Minnesota hit 0.396. More than a solid day at the office, but Swenson also added three kills, two blocks, and seven digs.
We come to the most fickle of skills the block. The domain of those later described as having a sense of the moment, or a penchant for delivering in the clutch. Lauren Frilling of Xavier takes home the prize this week. Her eight block performance scored 0.4963 on the stat sheet. Two solo blocks and four block assists in a four set loss to Miami of Ohio.
→ Miami (OH) vs. Xavier (2017-08-29)
Aces and service points rule the serving score and Ivana Blazevic of Maryland Eastern Shore certainly acquired plenty of both. During Eastern Shore’s three set sweep of St. Francis Brooklyn, Blazevic served twenty-seven times and her team scored on twenty-two of them. Eight times the ball went over and did not come back. Ivana added thirty-six assists to her serving exhibition.
Game Not Available
Emily Lopes of CSU Bakersfield accumulated thirty-two digs in a four set match against Valparaiso. Averaging eight digs per set and doubling the total of the next person on the team placed Emily as the top performer in the Roadrunners victory.
→ CSU Bakersfield vs. Valparaiso (2017-09-01)
That’s it for the week’s Top Performances. Congratulations to all of the standouts.