Jazz Sweet continues to put down kills at a very high level for the Nebraska volleyball team, and coach John Cook thinks there are signs that could continue even when the opponents get better once the conference season begins next week.
The sophomore right-side hitter had another great match Friday afternoon in the Huskers’ 25-18, 25-15, 25-11 victory against Central Michigan. The fourth-ranked Huskers have now won seven consecutive matches.
Sweet had seven kills on 10 attempts in the match. She had just one hitting error, giving her an above-average hitting percentage of .600. Sweet had five kills on her first six attempts of the match, and was drilling some shots right to the floor.
Sweet had reached double-digit kills in each of the Huskers’ previous four matches.
Cook says there will be good chances for Sweet to get lots of kills this season, and the odds improve for that to happen if freshman middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach can also be a threat and take some of the defensive game plan off Sweet.
Setter Nicklin Hames has a great understanding of how to set Sweet, Cook said. Depending on the situation, Hames knows when the ball needs to be set fast, or higher.
“It’s just like when two beach players get in a rhythm,” Cook said. "Nicklin just knows how to set her in a situation, and Jazz now knows that and is able to really either wait and drive, or go fast.”
Sweet started from the beginning of her freshman season last year, and averaged 2.22 kills per set with a .273 hitting percentage. This year those averages are 2.93 and .341.
This year Sweet says she has a better understanding of what to do when she’s hitting.
“I can kind of see the floor better, and see where the players are lining up on the other side,” Sweet said.
And now she’s getting the results in matches to reinforce what she’s doing in practice.
“It feels really good to know my training is really paying off right now,” she said.
Mikaela Foecke also had an efficient match, with nine kills and just one hitting error on 21 attempts for a .381 hitting percentage.
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins had a season-high nine kills. She had a .471 hitting percentage in the match, and says her connection with Hames continues to improve. After each point the hitters are supposed to communicate with Hames, and tell her if it was a good set, or ask her to set the ball to a different spot.
“Today they were pretty high, so that was good,” Stivrins said.
Nebraska served eight aces in the match. That included a memorable stretch in the second set when Hayley Densberger had three ace serves in four rallies, including two in a row.
“I was like, ‘Go for the turkey,’” said Stivrins, in a reference to three consecutive strikes in bowling.
The Huskers were at their best in the final set, when they had 12 kills on 16 attempts with no hitting errors. Nebraska hit .750 in that set to raise its match hitting percentage to .347.
Central Michigan had only seven fewer kills than Nebraska, but the Chippewas had 13 serving errors.
Cook thanked the Nebraska fans for showing up again for a match at noon on a workday. The actual attendance was 4,564.
“I’m just in awe of the Husker fans,” Cook said.