LINCOLN — On Monday, Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook was still trying to figure out what happened to his team Saturday night in a 3-0 loss to Wisconsin at the Devaney Center.
“We had a good match at Rutgers, and then I’m trying to figure out Saturday night,” Cook said at his weekly press conference. “I’m trying to come up with an analogy for you guys. Just think Big 12 football, we gained 600 yards, Wisconsin gained 700. They won. There’s your analogy on how that match went. Otherwise, I can’t figure it out.”
It was just one of those matches. The Huskers hit a solid .336 for the match, but Wisconsin hit .376 against a team that was one of the leaders in the Big Ten in opponent’s hitting percentage at .156.
“That night was going to be an offensive night,” Cook said. “You probably won’t see any more of those this year. It was a crazy night. We felt we were on the right things, we just weren’t executing. Maybe we were just a step slow because of three road matches and going to Rutgers Wednesday. I don’t know.”
Cook was certainly happy with the Huskers’ offensive attack against the Badgers.
“We put on a hitting clinic for us,” Cook said. “The difference was we had 12 more errors than they did. You lose three close games, your errors make the difference. We had a lot more unforced errors than they did. That’s a very experienced team that played really well.”
The 10 serving errors by the Huskers didn’t sit too well with Cook.
“Those are not aggressive serves when you’re serving into the middle of the net,” Cook said. And what causes those serving errors?
“Focus, not doing your routines, maybe a little tight,” Cook said. “It’s like shooting an air ball on a free throw, jumping offsides in football, traveling. It’s one of those mental errors.”
Cook said he’d give his team a D+ in serving right now. He’d like to see that improved to “at least an A.”
“It’s them and the ball,” Cook said. “It’s all about confidence. Nobody else. You don’t need a setter or a pass. It’s them and the ball.
“Two of our six servers are freshmen. They are trying to be tough servers, but you’re living on the edge trying to serve as tough as you can.”
Cook signals his server where to serve before each serve.
“We’re serving to spots on the court,” Cook said. “We’re we have six spots we serve to, so we’re always trying to hit one of those spots. And then we’re doing it depending on their rotation, their passers, what’s working, what’s not working.
“Wisconsin made adjustments. I have numbers on how those passers are doing and how we’re doing in those rotations, so I can refer to that and make adjustments from there.”
The Huskers (11-2, 3-1 in the Big Ten) are off until Friday when they host Michigan State at the Devaney Center. That’s followed by a Sunday home match against Michigan.
“It gives us a chance to train a little bit,” Cook said. “Last week was just trying to survive three road matches. Just trying to keep them sharp and fresh. That’s the key. So this week we can get back into a routine.
“Even though I don’t like Friday/Saturday as much with the athletes going back-to-back, but it does give you a week to train and work on things. When you go Wednesday/Saturday, again you have to do a balancing act a little bit more.”