LINCOLN — In the eyes of coach John Cook, Nebraska accomplished everything he wanted to in the season opener but left plenty of room for improvement.
The fifth-ranked Huskers hit .260 and tallied 15 team blocks and just four service errors. Plus they ran two different offensive systems, tried out several lineups and played all 12 available players.
The effort was enough to sweep Colgate 25-13, 25-16, 25-11 in front of 7,913 fans at the Devaney Center on Friday night.
“For the first night, it was good," Cook said. "It wasn't great, it was good."
Nebraska had great balance, as seven players recorded at least three kills, led by 10 from senior Lexi Sun at a .308 clip. With those kills, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter surpassed 1,000 career kills at Nebraska, becoming the 23rd all-time to do so and ninth in the rally-scoring era.
Freshman Lindsay Krause added six kills, including one on the first rally of the season, while junior outside hitter Madi Kubik and senior middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach had five each. Senior middle blocker Kayla Caffey terminated on all three of her attacks.
The Huskers used a two-setter system for the first two sets as Anni Evans and Kennedi Orr split playing time. Orr took over setting duties in the third set and led the Huskers to a .324 hitting percentage. The 6-foot freshman finished with a double-double of 17 assists and 10 digs.
“They both didn't flinch,” Cook said. “They looked like they were in control and running the show and didn't look panicked at all. And it's both their first college match (setting).”
While the offense improved as the match went on, the defense imposed itself on an undersized Colgate team. The Huskers finished with 15 team blocks, led by 10 from Schwarzenbach, her most since 13 in her freshman season.
Caffey, Sun, Krause and Whitney Lauenstein each had at least four blocks.
“We're just a more physical team with Whitney and Lindsay and all of our freshmen,” Schwarzenbach said. “They're just big, physical players, so I think they're already up there pretty well and they're just going to get better as we go on with the little things that we're working on.”
Freshman Lexi Rodriguez anchored the floor defense with 15 digs as she made the start at libero in her first career match. While her passing was sharp, Cook said she also played an important role as the secondary setter on the court.
Rodriguez finished with six assists including a pair of overhead backward sets to the pin for kills.
“She puts the ball up there where the (outside hitters) can get good swings, and that's probably the most impressive thing that she did,” Cook said.
Even the Huskers who made brief appearances had big impacts. Sophomore Kalynn Meyer notched the first stat line of her career with three kills on six swings with a block in the third set. Also, sophomore Keonilei Akana served nine points in the third set, including eight in a row.
The only Huskers who didn’t get into the match were seniors Nicklin Hames and Lauren Stivrins, who were dressed in street clothes; freshman middle blocker Rylee Gray, who also missed the Red-White scrimmage with shoulder soreness; and freshman outside hitter Ally Batenhorst. Cook said she is banged up and could have played, but they wanted to be conservative and get ahead of it.
The Huskers will face a tougher test Saturday at 4 p.m. against Kansas State, but Cook said they got the job done against Colgate.
“I thought they had a lot of fun and they played hard,” Cook said.
At Nebraska (1-0);25;25;25
CU (kills-aces-blocks): Shadwick 7-0-1, Overmyer 6-0-1, Horn-Bostel 3-0-1, Thompson 3-0-4, Leota 2-0-0, Hauschild 1-0-2, Altergott 1-0-0, Snyder 1-0-0, Carfino 1-0-0. Totals: 25-0-9.
NU: Sun 10-2-4, Krause 6-0-5, Kubik 5-0-2, Schwarzenbach 5-0-10, Caffey 3-0-4, Lauenstein 3-0-3, Meyer 3-0-1, Orr 1-0-2, Akana 0-2-0. Totals: 36-4-31.
Digs: CU 42 (Cigna 15, Altergott 8, Shadwick 6, Kurowski 6, Carfino 2, Overmyer 1, Horn-Bostel 1, Thompson 1, Hauschild 1, Jones 1), NU 49 (Rodriguez 15, Orr 10, Krause 8, Sun 4, Evans 4, Kunckles 3, Kubik 2, Schwarzenbach 2, Caffey 1).
Assists: CU 22 (Kurowski 15, Jones 5, Thompson 1, Cigna 1), NU 32 (Orr 17, Rodriguez 6, Evans 6, Sun 1, Krause 1, Schwarzenbach