Sometimes it goes like that
Sports are good because Texas vaporized Nebraska, 25-22, 25-14, 25-11, for a national title. Hear us out though as that may not have been what you were expecting to hear.
Sports are good because Texas vaporized Nebraska, 25-22, 25-14, 25-11, for a national title. Hear me out as I’m guessing that may not have been what you were expecting to hear.
What I mean is, you could play that match 9,999 more times and maybe none of those additional attempts looks as bad as Sunday’s championship match looked for Nebraska. But, sports are singular because there are no simulations, only the game, a one-off. It’s concrete and complete. There is only a winner and loser. In this match, which Husker fans may wish could’ve been the first of 10,000 simulations, Texas was unbelievable.
Over its entire history, Nebraska had never had an opponent record more than 10 service aces in a match. Not in the side-out era, not in the 30-point rally scoring era, not in the current rally scoring era. Never more than 10, even in matches that went five sets.
The Longhorns had 11 aces in three sets.
“Texas played great. They had a level of serving we hadn’t seen all year,” coach John Cook said. “It really impacted us, our momentum and our confidence. Everything started going their way, they got all the momentum and we could never get it back.”
It may not be much more complicated than that. Over its last three matches–all Tournament wins over 1-seeds Stanford, Wisconsin and Nebraska–Texas averaged 2.45 aces per set. The Longhorns averaged 1.66 in the regular season, a decent-ish 68th nationally. Their average over the final three matches would’ve ranked first nationally, 0.19 aces per set better than the next-closest team.
“I saw them do it to Wisconsin and Stanford,” Cook said, “so they’re on a roll right now.”
Sometimes it goes like that. Nobody walks away from that match happy other than Texas fans. If there were a movie version of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament, it would end any way other than that, just for dramatic purposes.
But you can’t script sports, which is their value, even when it stings.
Sunday’s match made me think of the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska was either about a 2-point favorite or underdog against Florida that year, depending on where you look. Point is, the teams were viewed as about equal, and point spreads wouldn’t be of much value if they were wrong a lot of the time.
As anyone reading this knows, Nebraska won that game by 38 points, a margin that was used to bolster the 1995 team’s case as the best ever. It’s nice when the one-off result matches the story you want to hear. You can then use that to build entire narratives.
Was Nebraska really 38-points better than the second-best team in the country that year? Probably not, but for the one time they got to play in those specific circumstances, at that specific time, in that specific version of the game, they were. And so it was written.
Texas won those rights on Sunday, and it will get out of control like it always does when you only have one data point. To the victor go the spoils.
Sometimes it goes the worst it could possibly go, and there are no do-overs here. You just have to live with it, and it’s why sports keep us coming back.
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Everyone, welcome Alexis Markowski to the 1,000-point club. In Sunday’s 76-51 win over Southern at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Markowski scored a game-high 21 points. Her 18th point was the one that hit the 1,000-point mark. She is the 38th Nebraska player to reach the milestone.
Markowski tweeted after the game that she couldn’t have reached the milestone without the help of her teammates. Coach Amy Williams credited her leadership and her role as the “hype girl” of the team, but also her growth as a leader for the team.
“I think where she’s really grown in my mind as a leader is just the way she’s become self-accountable,” Williams said. “The way she holds herself accountable makes her have the option to hold her teammates accountable.”
Nebraska is sitting at 9-2 before it hits the road on Wednesday to face Kansas. The two most recently met in the WNIT last season, which is ultimately what led to the Huskers’ elimination from the tournament. Will Nebraska get its revenge?
Octagon of fun
Can’t take the credit for the title of this one. Shout out to Nebraska.
The Huskers walked into Kansas State’s Octagon of Doom and made it a whole heck of a good time for the red team. It wasn’t a perfect game, but a second half of physicality made for a 62-46 Nebraska win. That means the Huskers are now 9-2 on the season.
About that physicality, the man of the afternoon was Juwan Gary. He had 18 rebounds, with 11 on the offensive end. As he put it, he’s going to keep going “until somebody boxes him out.”
Next up? North Dakota comes to town for a midweek matchup at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff is scheduled on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT. After that, it’s a matchup with South Carolina State on Dec. 29 before Big Ten play really begins.
Let’s finish this section with the quote of quotes from Gary as Nebraska moves forward and more people take notice.
“Nebraska ain’t nothing to play with,” Gary said. “I can tell you that right now. We have some dogs. We are a team that we were overlooked every time this year, so this is going to send a message, every time we get on the court, no matter if we playing a No. 2 team or a non-ranked team, we (are) going to perform at our best every time, and I’m pretty sure people know who Nebraska basketball is now.”
There’s a lot to say on the recruiting front, but let’s start here:
Coach Matt Rhule and some members of his staff crashed a wedding in Ainsworth, Nebraska, on Saturday. Seriously.
Rhule appears to have brought a signed helmet for the bride and groom — a couple named Emily and Kyle — and it doesn’t seem like anyone was upset by these particular wedding crashers.
The staff wasn’t just in town to crash a wedding, of course. They could have stayed in Lincoln to do that if they wanted. Instead, this was a trip to see tight end commit Carter Nelson. Two planes brought the coaches out to Ainsworth, with the coaches sticking around to watch Nelson’s basketball game.
Not all of the coaches crashed the wedding though. You likely saw some of them at wrestling’s dual on Saturday night, and that was by design. Someone needed to be back in town for the official visitors, which just so happened to include quarterback target Dylan Raiola.
Oh, one last thing: Nebraska quarterback commit Daniel Kaelin was scheduled to take an official visit to Michigan State. He did not go.
To borrow Rhule’s recruiting tagline, here’s what’s next this week:
Tuesday, we’ll have a signing day preview for paid subscribers. What can you expect starting Wednesday? Any surprises to watch out for? Names to know? We’ll cover it all and then some.
On Thursday, we’ll recap signing day and what we learned. While the early signing period runs through Friday, we’ll have a pretty strong understanding of what we’re looking at by the end of day Wednesday. There’s a reason coaches typically speak on the first day of the early signing period and it seems likely Rhule will release information on the scholarship signees and walk-ons at the same time.
More to come.