The 10th ranked Husker volleyball team is in Omaha tonight to take on the 5th ranked Washington Huskies at the CenturyLinc Center at 6:00pm. The victor will face the winner of the 4:00 match between 16th ranked BYU and 6th ranked Oregon.
Washington and Nebraska have some history on the court. One of Nebraska's better teams to not win the National Championship, the 2005 squad, was upset by Washington in straight sets in the championship match, though the Cornhuskers used that as an impetus for their 2006 National Championship run. A few years later in the Regional Finals in 2008 Nebraska rallied from down two sets to none to beat Washington 3-2. The photo from the match point is probably the most iconic in the history of Nebraska volleyball.
And finally, the last match in Seattle in 2010, won by Washington 3-1. Washington coach Jim McLaughlin and Nebraska coach John Cook went toe-to-toe after the match. Unhappy about a call that helped seal the Husker's loss, Cook let McLaughlin know about his displeasure with that call during the post-match handshake. McLaughlin didn't much care for what Cook said. They had to be separated before it could escalate into something really ugly.
Nebraska seems to be playing some of their best volleyball the past few matches. Gina Mancuso, Hannah Werth, Morgan Broekhuis, and Megan Thramer, just to name a few, have played some inspired volleyball as of late. And of course when you have one of the best setters in the game, Lauren Cook, to set up multiple weapons on offense, it never hurts. Most of her sets are spot-on, but she made one against Northern Iowa that was phenomenal. She had to run down the pass and set it behind her across the court for a perfect set and subsequent kill. It was ridiculously good.
They face a significant challenge tonight. I haven't heard any crowd estimates, but I'd be surprised if there were fewer than 10,000 screaming Cornheads trying to will the ladies to victory at the CenturyLink.
How sweet it would be for the Husker volleyball team to get the victory tonight against the Washington Huskies and move on to Saturday night, one step closer to the Final Four in Louisville, Kentucky.