It hasn’t been a friendly venue for the blue and white over the years and the Lions realize that nothing has changed this season.
The Nebraska Coliseum has been far from an easy place to play and the records speak for themselves. Throughout the series, the Lions are 2-11 on the road at Nebraska and have lost three straight, including a 3-2 loss last season.
This season, the Cornhuskers are a perfect 9-0 at the Coliseum and 10-0 at home, with one match being played at the CenturyLink Center. They are ranked No. 4 in the country and only have two losses on the season.
With that in mind, coach Russ Rose knows that his Lions are going to have to play much better this weekend if they want to beat the Huskers at 2 p.m. Sunday in Lincoln, Neb.
“I saw Nebraska on TV play Illinois and they played way better against Illinois than we’ve been playing the past couple weeks,” Rose said.
Even though the No. 1 Lions (21-1, 11-0 Big Ten) are riding a 15-game win streak –– their longest of the season –– and have only dropped 12 sets all year, they know that they will need to play at a high caliber this weekend.
That level of play will begin to take shape when the squad gets back to work in the gym and utilizes its only practice before the match with the Huskers.
“I think we need to really get back in the gym and work hard because we need to raise our level of play and raise our consistency to play with a top team [like Nebraska],” junior middle hitter Katie Slay said.
The Lions have already defeated the Huskers, 3-1, this season at Rec Hall and are 9-0 on the road, so something will have to give this weekend when the two squads collide Sunday.
With a win, the Lions would give themselves a two-match cushion between first and second place in the Big Ten. A win would make it very difficult for any other school to catch the Lions with only eight games remaining on the schedule –– with six of those eight matches to be played at Rec Hall.
Despite the tough atmosphere and challenge on the opposite side of the net, the Lions remain optimistic that they can down the Huskers for the second time this season.
“I think we’re going to work hard in practice and know what they’re going to be about,” sophomore setter Micha Hancock said. “It’s going to be a really good match and if we play like we can on our side of the net, we’re going to be hard to handle.