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UNO's Rylee Marshall has been playing her best volleyball this season

UNO's Rylee Marshall has been playing her best volleyball this season

Rylee Marshall

Rylee Marshall is averaging 0.99 blocks per set this season, with that number increasing to 1.21 in Summit League play.

Check out the All-Nebraska volleyball teams since 2015.

UNO set the tone for Saturday's Summit League sweep of South Dakota State with a 12-0 run in the first set.

An ace block by Rylee Marshall and Sami Clarkson started the run, making the score 10-7. That duo combined for another block to make it 20-7 near the run's end.

That's nothing new. The Mavericks have been productive with their block during league play, with 11.5 blocks Saturday — their most in a three-set match this season.

Marshall, a senior middle blocker from Fort Calhoun, has been in the middle of a lot of those. A three-year starter, Marshall has been playing her best volleyball this season.

"She's doing a lot of things well right now," coach Matt Buttermore said.

Marshall was in on a season-high eight blocks Saturday and is averaging 0.99 blocks per set. That number is 1.21 in Summit play.

She also has the team's second-best hitting percentage at .263. She trails only right-side hitter Sadie Limback, who leads the league in kills at 3.76 a set.

Marshall said familiarity with her teammates — Limback and setter Clarkson have also started at least three years — and the coaches has helped elevate her play. Just as important, she thinks she's playing with a better tempo than earlier in her career.

"He's slowed down my timing (on attacks)," Marshall said of Buttermore. "And I have confidence. That's helped me become a better attacker."

Three weeks ago, Marshall even picked up her first weekly league honor: defensive player of the week. For the award, she had 11 blocks in a pair of sweeps, and in one of the wins, she had eight kills in 11 attempts for a .727 hitting percentage.

Marshall was pleasantly surprised by the honor.

"I don't really think of myself as a defender, but I am a middle blocker," she said with a smile.

UNO finishes a three-game homestand at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a key match against UMKC. UNO and Denver are tied for first place in the Summit at 7-1, followed by South Dakota (7-2), which lost to Denver on Saturday after beating UNO last Thursday, and UMKC (6-2).

The Mavs and Kangaroos split a pair of five-set thrillers last season, with UNO winning the final set 16-14 on the first night and UMKC winning 15-13 the second.

"That's going to be a tough one," Buttermore said. "We're going to get ready to play a tough match."

Tuesday's match also marks the midway point of the Summit regular season. UNO will play seven of its final nine matches on the road.

Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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