Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Nebraska Women Win Big

59d05bd833b67.image“Well they graduated five talented seniors,” I was thinking last week when I tuned into the Nebraska-Penn State volleyball game. “And Penn State is ranked second while the Huskers are ranked 14th,” I said to the cat. “And they are playing the match in Rec Hall,” I added, remembering the snake pit that place used to be back in the day when it had just been abandoned by the men’s basketball team and still smelled of old tennis shoes.

So my hopes for a win were, well, modest. Then the Huskers took the floor and swept Penn State, three sets to none. Note: this had not been done to Penn State at home for fourteen years!

I opened a can of Sassy’s favorite food.

Then, last Friday night, Nebraska’s women played Minnesota, which team was ranked third in the country. I say “was,” because the Huskers also swept the mighty Gophers. In fact they made it look easy. (The fact that they were playing at home in front of 8400 fans might have helped some). “Hooray!,” I said to a sleeping Sassy.  My joy was tempered, though–I didn’t see how they could pull that off against seventh-ranked Wisconsin on Saturday night. (Who schedules these games anyhow? Three top ten teams in 8 days?  Come on!)

Wisconsin is GOOD. Last night they looked better (to me at least) than Minnesota. They have an outside hitter named Dana Rettke who is six feet eight inches tall.  In other words, she can reach over the net while standing still.


Needles to say, that’s Rettke on the left. But she is not content, as some tall players are, to rely solely on her height. No, Rettke is a fierce competitor who can place a hard shot in the back corner of the court before you can say “Please don’t do that again!”

Like the nail-biter Nebraska played against Penn State in the semi-finals last year, the Wisconsin game went to five sets. Wisconsin took the first two sets, winning the first easily and the second by a couple of points. Sassy was hiding in a closet at that point.

I’d like to know what Nebraska coach John Cook says to his teams during half-time, because the Huskers came out roaring in the third set, taking it and the fourth with steady play. And then they romped in the fifth–Wisconsin seemed to run out of steam.  Sydney Townsend, a homie from Lincoln, had been instructed to serve the ball high and short, which caused Wisconsin to send floofers back over the net that were easily fielded by Nebraska’s front line.  Game, Set, Match!

Eight days, three wins over top-ten teams.  It doesn’t get any better than that!




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For those of you who are sports-impaired (here’s looking at you, Trep), the gentleman depicted in this photo is LeBron James, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers (a professional basketball team). Mr. James, in addition to being quite large, is very good at what he does. Some commentators, in fact, have hazarded that he is as good, or nearly so, as the fabled Michael Jordan.

In short, Mr. James (also known as “King” James) has some weight to throw around when he chooses to do so. And now he has done just that, taunt-tweeting the guy in the oval office and calling him a bum. The contretemps began when the Steph Curry, another popular player of basketball, refused an invitation to visit the White House even though his team won the national championship this year. The bum then dis-invited Curry, thus making sense to no one but himself:  how do you dis-invite someone who has declined to attend? (May I suggest that the bum is not a careful reader?)








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Elite Eight!



Nebraska players rush the court when their team pulls out a miracle win

Wow! What a game! Penn State, ranked number 16, were not intimidated. Not by the fact they were playing the number 1 seed in the tournament, not by the fact that Nebraska beat them twice during the regular season, not by the fact that Lincoln’s Devaney Center was packed to the rafters with 8200 Big Red fans (apparently Nebraska’s governor asked bosses to allow workers a couple of hours off so they could attend the 11 am game).

As a counter PSU brought their own rowdy followers all the way from State College who created a small patch of blue in the sea of red. No, the Nittany Lions were not the least bit intimidated. They won the first two sets, 25-23. Their hitters seemed unstoppable, and they successfully blocked nearly everything that Nebraska’s big guns unloaded at the net. At that point my heartburn firmly reminded me that it’s still there in my innards. I thought for sure that Nebraska’s season and its run for a second consecutive national championship were over.

The third set was even more tense. PSU ran the score up to 24-23. That’s do or die in volleyball, folks. At that point Nebraska’s Kadie Rolfzen had apparently had enough of this shit. She blocked a powerful hit from Penn State’s Simone Lee, and put it down so hard and fast that nobody could lay a hand on it. Her teammates then followed suit, and Nebraska won that set 26-24.

Nebraska won sets four and five handily. PSU seemed to lose steam after losing the third as though they brought enough energy to win the necessary three sets and no more.

Nebraska’s coach looked a little stunned after the game was over. He said later that he caught himself watching the match as a spectator rather than as a coach–the play was that good.

I’m not sure about that. I’ll have to watch it again when my heart finally climbs back down into my chest where it belongs.

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 The Rolfzen sisters, Kadie and Amber, block a hit

How cool would it be to play championship volleyball alongside your twin sister? Or even your regular sister? Two teams in the Big Ten, Nebraska and Minnesota, have twin-sister players: the Rolfzens for Huskers and Paige and Hannah Tapp for the Gophers. These two teams have been ranked 1 and 2 all season, so maybe having a pair of twins is a good idea?


 Paige and Hannah Tapp

Both teams are headed to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA championship tournament. Nebraska swept New Hampshire and Texas Christian in three sets apiece on successive nights. Minnesota, OTOH, beat North Dakota and Hawaii (a much tougher team) on their way to the semi-finals.

On Friday morning Nebraska meets Penn State, which owns some eight national championships–PSU is always a scary opponent. Minnesota will face Missouri, which didn’t win its conference but looks pretty tough nonetheless, having clobbered the Big Ten’s Purdue on their way to the Sweet 16. I’m hoping that Mizzou (or somebody) knocks off Minnesota before Nebraska has to face them, which would happen, if it does, in the championship game on December 17.


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They Did It!


Nebraska’s volleyball team won the Big Ten championship last night, defeating Michigan in four sets. Hooray! An hour later, Minnesota did them the favor of beating Wisconsin in an exciting five-set match so Nebraska doesn’t have to share the title with the Badgers. Hooray again!

Now it’s on to the national championship. Can they repeat?

The teams and seeds in the national tournament will be announced on ESPN2 on Sunday evening. A new wrinkle this year:  the top four seeds get to play their first four games (if they get that far) at home. I hear that Nebraska’s Devaney Center is already sold out for all four events, should they all occur.

Even if you’re not a fan of volleyball, and even if you’ve never been to Nebraska and would pay money never to go there, you gotta admit that we all need some good news right about now. Right? Right.


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NATL+CHAMPSNebraska’s women sweep Texas in three sets, and they are NCAA national champions!

Is this a crowd or what?

5676083c5145c.imageSeventeen thousand five hundred people came to watch Nebraska and Texas play tonight.

Would it be wrong to construe tonight’s victory as payback for the 2010 Big Twelve football championship game?



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Tonight’s The Night



Nebraska plays Kansas in the NCAA volleyball semi-finals tonight. If you want to watch, the match will be televised at 7:30 MST on ESPN.

Tom Shatel, who writes for the Omaha paper, has a nice piece about the history of Nebraska volleyball that can be found here:  ww.omaha.com/huskers/shatel-volleyball-has-become-nebraska-s-legacy-passed-on-from/article_9d2ae1b4-970b-5d3f-b2d1-ac9c5bd4d871.html. Shatel’s article features the amazing Kadie Rolfzen, who was named an All-American earlier this week. That’s Kadie in the photo, jumping higher than any human being ought to as she goes up for a kill.

Nebraska’s opponent, the Kansas Jayhawks, has two All-American players, and there are also All-Americans on the two teams who play earlier (Minnesota and Texas). So there will be some great athletic talent on the floor tonight, and I’m sure fun will be had by all.

Especially if Nebraska wins.

UPDATE:  Nebraska won in four sets!  Kansas put up a good and exciting game–I held my breath more often than was good for me. Unfortunately, Texas beat Minnesota, so the final match on Saturday night will be between Nebraska and Texas.




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