Nebraska advanced to the Elite Eight after dispatching Washington in straight sets. Up next: the Oregon Ducks.
After a surprising three set sweep of Washington, Nebraska is one win away from their first Final Four appearance since 2008. Coincidently, the Huskers beat Washington in the regional final that year to advance to the Final Four in Omaha, where they were the first team to win A SET ALL YEAR against the eventual champions, Penn State. Nebraska took the Nittany Lions to five sets in that semi-final, and had them on the ropes in the fifth, up 9-6 at one point in the race to 15.
But that's history. This is the here and now, and Nebraska is playing some of their best volleyball of the year. Hannah Werth, with 22 digs last night, has been everywhere. Lauren Cook continues to set up her teammates in impeccable fashion, drawing on numerous offensive weapons, including Hannah Werth, Gina Mancuso, Meghan Haggerty, and the surging Morgan Broekhuis, who hit a scorching .444 last night and has elevated her game the past few weeks.
Now's it's onto the 6th ranked Oregon Ducks and their PAC 12 player of the year winner, 6'3 outside hitter Alaina Bergsma. Can the Ducks handle the sure-to-be raucous environment? Or will they quack under the pressure? Not many college volleyball players get to experience a scene quite like they will encounter this evening.
You won't need an internet stream to watch the match tonight. It will be on ESPNU. I was as frustrated as many other Cornheads last night that the match wasn't on the BTN. It's a bit disconcerting when the BTN won't pick up important matches like the Sweet 16 (played in Omaha in front of nearly 9,000 fans......and not to mention the men's Creighton vs. Nebraska game they didn't air).
Why in the hell wouldn't the BTN want to showcase such an electric environment for a sport the B1G conference is so successful at nationally? This is pure conjecture, but I'm willing to bet attendance tonight in Omaha will dwarf most B1G men's basketball games. And hell, it may even beat some attendance figures for Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota football games.
Nebraska volleyball, as proven time and time again when playing in a big arena like the CenturyLink, can draw 10,000-15,000. You want a platform to show how exciting college volleyball can be? Tune in tonight.
Win tonight and a possible Final Four semi-final showdown against Penn State, and their smug coach Russ Rose (sorry, had to throw that in), awaits. But first things first. Bring on the Ducks.