Saturday, December 18, 2021

Live-Blogging NCAA Women's Championship Match (December 2021)

Just a few minutes away from Nebraska and Wisconsin for the national championship. Seemingly contradicting the opening claim of ESPN announcers Paul Sunderland and Salima Rockwell that Anna Smrek's excellent hitting night in the semis gives the Badgers a new look, Smrek hit .647 (12-1-17) in the first Wisconsin-Nebraska B1G match of the season.

Game 1: Wisconsin out of sync starting off, particularly in serve-receipt, as Huskers lead 5-1... Badgers close to within 6-4, now 6-5, as Nebraska's receipt shaky as well...  Jade Demps, who announcers pointed out specializes in hitting from the back row, delivers one of her specials for 7-6 UW lead... Huskers back on top 8-7... Demps with another back-row kill for 8-8... Ally Batenhorst, who cooled off in the semifinal match vs. Pitt after a great match vs. Texas in the regional final, registers a kill for NU... Now 12-10 Huskers, as Kayla Caffey heats up... 13-10... Madi Kubik also heating up for Huskers, as they lead 15-10 (on 7-2 run)... Lindsay Krause (pronounced Krowzy) joining in the act for Nebraska, 16-10... Badger block makes it 16-11... Lauren Stivrins kill ups NU lead to 17-11... Kubik again, 18-12, T/O Wisc... Huskers currently hitting .345 (13-3-29), with an "ensemble" attack... Nebraska hitting error and then kill by Julia Orzol cut lead to 18-14... NU responds with kill for 19-14... Long rally ends with UW setter Sydney Hilley sending off-speed ball over, followed by Badger block, now 19-16... T/O Nebraska... Huskers dampening a lot of Wisconsin spike attempts (i.e., deflecting them to keep them playable)... Wisc ace for 19-17, but Caffey kill ups Husker lead to 20-17... Badger kill to close within 20-18... Now 22-18 on NU block, T/O Wisc... Badgers hit long, 23-18 NU... UW service error gives NU game point, 24-19... Badgers within 24-21... Wisc block for 24-22, T/O Nebraska... Stivrins puts Game 1 away for NU, 25-22... Game-1 hitting: Wisc .171, Nebraska .156... Two names we haven't heard a lot for Wisconsin: Anna Smrek and Grace Loberg... ESPN's intro and outro music, One Republic's "All the Right Moves," really sticks with you...

Game 2: Early 2-1 Husker lead... Caffey and Kubik keeping it up for Nebraska, 4-1... 5-1 on big Husker block... UW kill for 5-2... Caffey answers, 6-2... Demps with back-row special for Wisc, 6-3... Krause for 7-3... Demps dug, but Nebraska hits it out. Huskers challenging no-touch call... Denied, so 7-4 NU... Orzol kill for 7-5... Serve into net, 8-5 Huskers... Kubik back-row kill for 9-5... Double-hit on set by Hilley, 10-6 NU (we're seeing more mishandled-ball calls lately)... Now 11-7 Huskers... Caffey (whose 6-foot-0 height makes her short only in a relative sense) with block for 12-7... Badgers out-of-sync, can't locate NU overpass, 13-7... Now 13-9, as Huskers hit it out... 13-10... Badgers (Loberg) with swing for 13-11 and she nails it (4-0 UW run)... Kubik kill for 14-11, but then Kubik blocked for 14-12... Wisc serves long for 15-12 NU lead... Badger block for 15-13... Kubik  off the block for 16-13... 16-14... Ace for 16-15... No T/O from NU... Husker block for 17-15, so T/O apparently not needed... NU service error for 17-16... Badgers into net, 18-16... NU hasn't won points on its own serve in a long time... Another Husker service error, 18-17... Caffey kill, 19-17... 19-18... Caffey again after Badger free-ball, 20-18... Loberg heating up a bit for Wisc, 20-19... Badger block for 20-all... 21-20 UW, now comes that Husker T/O... I've wanted to use the term "Red Roof Inn" for blocks, but both teams have red as their main color... Kaffey ties it 21-all... Demps dart from the back, 22-21 Badgers... 22-all... Another Demps back-row kill, 23-22 UW... Kubik kill for 23-all... Joust and ball goes out of bounds off Wisconsin for 24-23 Husker lead. Challenged... Denied... Game-point NU... Serves into net, 24-all... UW returns the favor, serving long, 25-24... T/O Wisc, "icing" the server? NU with swing for the game, but blocked, 25-all... Demps from the front-row for 26-25 Badger lead... Caffey kill off the block to tie it at 26-all... Wisc challenging on grounds that ball hit Caffey on ricochet after block before it landed out... Denied, so game continues... Caffey hitting .643 (10-1-14)  ... Robinson kill for 27-26 UW, but Caffey answers for 27-all... NU ace for 28-27... Loberg kill for 28-all... NU kill off block for 29-28... Rettke tip for 29-all... Badger block for 30-29... Another block gives UW the game, 31-29...

Game 3: Wisc offer to early 4-2 lead... After long rally, Demps blocked from back row, 4-all... 8-7 Wisc after Badgers serve long... Caffey kill for 8-8... Wisc 11-9... 12-9... Rettke with two hits out of bounds, NU within 12-11... Rettke block for 13-11, has two solo blocks and eight assists on the evening... 14-12 Wisc... 17-14 Wisc... 18-15... Trading side-outs, 19-16... 20-16 Badgers on Rettke tip... Huskers within 21-19... 22-19... 22-20... UW kill off block for 23-20... 23-21... Krause put-away after UW sends two free-balls, NU within 23-22, T/O Badgers... Demps hits wide, 23-all... Devyn Robinson tip for 24-23 Wisc... Robinson kill to end it, 25-23 Wisconsin...

Between-game note: Badgers now 6-0 in deuce-games vs. Nebraska this season...

Game 4: Nebraska block for 2-0 lead...  Block totals on the night: Wisconsin 18, Nebraska 7. Tied at 3-all... 5-all... Huskers with last three points for 8-5 lead... Badger block pulls them within 8-7... Ace for 8-all... 10-8 Huskers as knuckleball serve (no spin), which Wisc thought was going long, lands in... Badgers with three quick points for 11-10 lead... Huskers hanging in, 13-all... 14-all... 15-all... 16-all... You guessed it, 17-all... I'd like to see the side-out statistics, must be very high... Smrek hits wide for 18-17 NU... Now 19-17 Huskers... 21-17... 21-18... UW net serve, 22-18... 22-19... Kubik kills finds open space on the floor in-bounds, 23-19... 23-20... Another service error, 24-20 Huskers... Tip off block by Loberg for 24-21... Badger kill for 24-22, T/O Huskers... 24-23... Great rally! Looks like Rettke has kill for equalizer, but Huskers chase ball down and their off-speed hit lands untouched in front of the baseline... 25-23 Huskers to send it to five, NU's first deuce-game win over UW this season...

Game 5: 2-0 Wisconsin on Nebraska hit long (one linesperson called touch, but chair-ref overruled)... Now 3-0... 4-0... Rettke rejection (block) for 5-0... 6-0... 7-0... Huskers with their first point, 7-1... Rettke kill off the block, 8-1... Wisc hits long for 8-2... 9-2... 9-3 on Wisc service error... Demps hit long, 9-4... UW hits long again, 9-5... NU hits long, 10-5 Badgers... Wisc hits wide, 10-6... Batenhorst kill for 10-7... Badger block for 11-7... Stivrins for 11-8... Loberg kill for 12-8... NU off-speed shot for 12-9...  Rettke slide kill for 13-9... Ace for 14-9... Krause kill keeps the match alive, 14-10... Kubik kill for 14-11... T/O Wisc... Kubik hits out of bounds to (apparently) end the match. Chair-ref waited a while to deliver call. NU challenging for either touch or net violation... Objection sustained (touch), 14-12 Wisc... Long rally (Badgers had at least four swings for the title) and Rettke brings it home, 15-12... "When you say Wisconsin, you've said it all..."

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