The Husker volleyball team takes on Penn State tonight to see who'll be going to the national title game on Saturday. It'll be a tough task for a Husker team as Penn State hasn't lost a single set since last season and they're 36-0 this season. Their 109-set streak is a NCAA record, as is their 62 match-winning streak.
Put this up against the Huskers' 13-0 record at the Qwest Center, and the fact that seniors Jordan Larson, Rachel Schwartz and Amanda Gates have never lost in the state of Nebraska.
Stats aren't on the Huskers' side, as Penn State comes into the match a clear statistical leader:
|Blocks Per Set||1st (3.28)||20th (2.62)|
|Hitting Percentage||1st (.403)||14th (.271)|
|Kills Per Set
||2nd (15.04)||7th (14.60)|
Nebraska can't match the Nitts in skills players either. Penn State placed four players on the AVCA first-team list - Nicole Fawcett, Alisha Glass, Christa Harmotto and Megan Hodge. Compare that to Nebraska's Jordan Larson on the first team.
I look at these teams and I can't help but think of the first Rocky movie (before they became a cliche', the first Rocky was pretty good and a lot of fun) when Rocky turns to (Yo!) Adrian and says: "I can't beat him. But that don't bother me. The only thing I want to do is to go the distance, that's all."
I'm tempted to say that if the Huskers can beat Penn State in one set, then they can smash the "perfection" that are the Nittany Lions and that would be good enough for me.
You can be glad I'm not one of them nor their coach because those last two paragraphs sound like accepting a moral victory is enough. Throughout this season, the 2008 team has shown that they're capable of fighting for wins despite low expectations. They could have lost last week by giving up against Washington when they were clearly beaten but they came back to make the Final Four.
Nebraska wasn't expected to make it this far but they did and for their reward they get to face "Perfect Penn State". It's the perfect set up for an epic. David vs. Goliath. Rocky vs. Apollo Creed (he beat him in Rocky II). 300 Spartans. We don't have any references like this for female athletes. Perhaps after tonight we'll have one.
Schedules for Thursday's matches are as follows:
No. 3 Texas (29-3) vs. No. 2 Stanford (30-3)
Thursday, Dec. 18 • Qwest Center Omaha • 6 p.m.
TV: ESPNU (Ch. 614; DISH Network Ch. 148; Time Warner Cable Ch. 235; Cox Cable Ch. 220)
Live Stats: NCAASports.com
No. 4 Nebraska (31-2) at No. 1 Penn State (36-0)
Thursday, Dec. 18 • Qwest Center Omaha • 8 p.m.
Radio: Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Twister 93.3 FM in Omaha, and on Huskers.com
Live Stats: NCAASports.com
TV: Live on ESPN2, ESPNU (Ch. 614; DISH Network Ch. 148; TW Cable Ch. 235; Cox Cable Ch. 220) and ESPN360.com