Lauren Stivrins is back — and the highly anticipated return of the All-American Nebraska star was all it was hyped up to be. Stivrins missed the first 11 matches due to an off-season back surgery, and in the midst of her absence, Nebraska went through a flurry of lineup changes, three consecutive losses, and a drop in the rankings. But she returned on Oct. 1 against Michigan, and she too wanted to earn her spot. Stivrins posted 11 kills on .733 hitting with three blocks in the sweep, Now, the Huskers will face their first ranked opponent since the return of their leader — No. 13 Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are in the midst of a six-match winning streak following two back-to-back losses to Oregon and Stanford. They looked impressive in a sweep over then-No. 3 Ohio State, and next will face their first ranked matchup since the Buckeyes. Penn State leads the entire nation as a team in blocks per set with 3.32 with Kaitlyn Hord ranking second nationally with 1.74 blocks per set. Their offense has been finding its groove as well, led by Jonni Parker and other contributors in Adanna Rollins, Allie Holland, Erika Pritchard and Anastasiya Kudryashova.
As far as Nebraska and Penn State facing off, I expect an insanely loud environment at Rec Hall and some high-level volleyball. The Huskers have a talented freshmen class that, in the midst of shuffling around lineups, fell to three ranked teams. They’ve had some time to gel together as a group and will face a big Penn State opponent. When it comes to the history, Nebraska has won nine out of the last 10 matchups between these two teams, but the Huskers’ last two wins were at the Devaney Center. Now they will face the experienced Nittany Lions on the road.