clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Volleyball Final Four Preview

As the Huskers look to extend their win streak all the way to 18 and the National Championship, CornNation previews the teams playing in Omaha this weekend.

The NCAA Volleyball Final Four in Omaha starts Thursday night at 6:00 central at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha with Minnesota taking on Texas. The Huskers take on former Big XII foe Kansas in the other semi-final at 8:30.

This season, Nebraska fell at home to Minnesota on a weekend where the Huskers dropped both matches. The Huskers also fell to Texas way back in September in Austin.

Before getting in too deep, here were the predictions I made at 5:00 Saturday night, just after the Huskers had dispatched the Washington Huskies:

Yes, you have to click on the tweet, but it only takes a minute. Kansas did knock off USC in an absolute thriller. Kansas was down 13-9 in the fifth and deciding set when they sealed the match with a 6-0 run to take the deciding set 15-13 and take the match, advancing to the first ever Final Four for the Jayhawks.

The Huskers will be challenged by the Jayhawks. Kansas' three best hitters are Tiana Dockery, Tayler Soucie, and Kelsie Payne. Their offense runs almost equally through outside hitter Dockery and right side attacker Payne. However, Kansas found great success out of the middle against USC when the passing was good.

The Jayhawk offense is similar to the way the Huskers use both of the Rolfzens as well as Foecke and Fien. However, the Huskers have more consistent offense out of both outside hitters. Ultimately, the combination of the Husker attack and block may prove too much for Kansas, and it gives Nebraska a great chance to knock out Kansas and move on to Saturday night.

The other semi-final will likely come down to the fifth set between Texas and Minnesota. Minnesota's big hitter are outside Daly Santana and middle Hannah Tapp. Daly Santana was a candidate for the National Player of the Year and gets the lion's share of sets for the offense. However, when the pass is good, Hannah Tapp has a .349 hitting efficiency, the best on the team.

Texas hits you from a lot of different angles. Amy Neal, the Big XII Player of the Year, had 447 kills on the season, 140 ahead of Paulina Prieto-Cerame, the other outside hitter who was second on the team. The middles, Chiaka Ogbogu and Molly McCage, combined to add another 500 kills on the year. Ogbogu and McCage combined for 237 total blocks on the year.

Nebraska stacks up well against either Texas or Minnesota. If the Huskers make the final and the opponent is Texas, it's important to remember that the Huskers lost in five sets to Texas in Austin in a match that Amber Rolfzen was unavailable, and there was a revolving door opposite Foecke at outside. Kelsey Fien, Olivia Boender, and Annika Abrecht all played the position, and Foecke hit only .062 for the match.

Statistically, the Huskers had a very good match against Minnesota in October. The Huskers had 16 blocks to 11 for Minnesota and outhit the Gophers .253-.240. Three of the sets in the Huskers' 3-1 loss were decided by two points, so the five Husker service errors to only one ace are a stat that you can expect the Huskers to be paying close attention to in preparing for the Final Four.

ESPN2 has coverage of all three matches this weekend. The Minnesota-Texas match will start at 6:00 pm central on Thursday with the Nebraska-Kansas match starting at 8:30 pm. Coverage of the National Championship match will start at 6:30 pm central on Saturday.

It will be an exciting weekend at the CenturyLink Center. The Huskers are riding a 14-match win streak in to the weekend. The only two losses Kansas has suffered so far this year were suffered at the hands of the Longhorns. Texas has only lost twice this year, at home against Florida and on the road to TCU. After losing the first two of the season, Minnesota only lost twice in conference, at Penn State and at Purdue.

Tune in to see some great volleyball and I hope to see many of you at the CenturyLink Center!