On Friday night in Lexington, KY, the Nebraska Women's Volleyball Team moved one step closer to the Final Four in Omaha, sweeping the #13-seeded BYU Cougars 26-24, 25-17, 25-23 in the Regional Semi-Final. The win avenged the Huskers' loss last year in the Regional Finals last year in Seattle.
The Huskers did not trail in either of the first two sets, though BYU kept it close in the first set, including tying the score at 24 to force bonus volleyball. In the second set, the Huskers took control early and never relented, taking the decisive 25-17 victory.
The third saw BYU take the advantage 3-2 early, then open that to 6-2. The Huskers then took the momentum to lead 8-7. BYU answered with their own run and re-took the lead 12-9. From there, the set stayed much tighter, with the score being tied at 13 and 15.
The Huskers then had as much as a 5-point lead at 22-17, but the Cougars weren't done, closing it to 23-22. The teams traded sideouts the rest of the way to give the Huskers the 25-23 win.
While both teams hit well in the first set, .391 for Nebraska to .366 for BYU, Nebraska dominated the second, .303-.067 and ultimately outhit BYU .279-.191 for the match.
The Husker attack was led by three attackers with twelve kills, Kelsey Fien (.310), Amber Rolfzen (.550), and Kadie Rolfzen (.312). Mikaela Foecke had an uncharacteristic night, hitting .097 with eight kills.
The Husker block struggled early, but for the match, the Nebraska outblocked BYU 10.5-7.0. Cecilia Hall led the way with five assisted blocks. Mikaela Foecke had four assisted blocks. Both of the Rolfzens had three assisted blocks, and Amber added two solo blocks.
The Huskers had 64 digs to 61 for the Cougars. Nebraska's defense was led by 23 digs from Justine Wong-Orantes, with Annika Albrecht adding 14 of her own. Kadie Rolfzen had 12 digs to record a double-double.
The Husker ride a 13-match win streak heading in to the Saturday afternoon match with the Washington Huskies, who needed five sets to dispose of the Ohio State Buckeyes, in the Regional Final. Last year, Nebraska pulled off the upset of Washington in Seattle in the Regional Semi-final.
The Huskers are the #4 seed in the tournament, Washington is #5. By that metric, the Huskers winning would not be an upset. However, in the AVCA Coaches Poll released on November 30, Nebraska is #5 and Washington #1.
The Huskers are going to have to continue to play at a very high level against a Washington team with only two losses on the year. Foecke has bounced back mightily on nights after she's struggled, so look for a huge night from her. Nebraska has the pieces in place to extend the win streak to 14 and advance to the Final Four in Omaha December 17th and 19th.
All four Regional Finals will be covered on ESPNU starting at 3:00 central with the Nebraska-Washington match in the Lexington Regional Final. The last match will be USC-Kansas in the San Diego Regional at 10:30 central. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the Huskers' match in the National Semi-final.