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NCAA Volleyball Tournament Regional Finals: Huskers Harness Huskies

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Gallery: Husker Volleyball Conquers Weekend Challenges

After a heart-attack for Huskers fans on Friday afternoon at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, the Nebraska Huskers Women’s Volleyball team clashed with the Washington Huskies for a berth in the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio. Nebraska dominated the Pac-12 champions 3-0 (25-16, 25-10, 25-21).

Washington took the first point of the first set on a miscommunication by the Huskers, but then Nebraska went on a 4-0 run and the Huskies took their first timeout of the set.

Nebraska came back and had a serve and an attack sail long to let Washington to within one, but then Andie Malloy tooled the Washington block to give the Huskers the serve again with Justine Wong-Orantes on the line.

Nebraska opened the lead to three points at 7-4 and held that advantage for a bit, but began to extend it after the score was 11-8 Huskers. The Big Red scored the next three points to take a 14-8 lead and force the second Washington timeout of the opening set.

Washington closed the gap slightly late, with Nebraska holding a six-point advantage at 19-13, but the Huskers again opened up the lead, taking the first set 25-16.

The Huskers hit .467 to .097 for Washington. Andie Malloy led the way for the Huskers with six kills, but she was followed closely by Kadie Rolfzen with five.

Briana Holman started the second set with a decisive Husker point which seemed to set the tone for the early part of the set. Washington couldn’t find any kind of rhythm or even connection. For the second time in two sets, the Husky setter completely missed her outside hitter, and Washington attacks either went long or in the net. The Huskers opened up a 5-0 lead which forced the first timeout of the set once again very early.

It didn’t get any better for Washington after the timeout, and the Huskers pushed the run to start the second set to 8-0. Washington used their final timeout of the set to try to adjust and stop the Huskers.

It took a ball off the top of the Husker block for the Huskies to score their first point of the set, making the score 9-1. However, Kadie Rolfzen thumped a ball down the line for another Husker point, making the score 10-1 Big Red.

Nebraska made the lead 11 points, 14-3, before Washington put together their first two-point run of the set, closing to 14-5.

Washington closed to within eight at 15-7 Huskers, but still could not maintain any kind of momentum in the set.

Washington closed to a seven point deficit at 16-9 which led to Nebraska using their first timeout of the second set.

The timeout by the Huskers quashed whatever run the Huskies were staring, as the Huskers took the next five points to open the lead to 21-9 and essentially put away the second set. After the timeout, the Huskers used a 9-1 run to finish the set 25-10.

Nebraska hit .565 in the second and was hitting .506 after the first two sets. Washington hit -.080 in the second and was hitting .018 after two. Nebraska was led by Andie Malloy’s ten kills on sixteen swings with no errors to hit .625 in the first two sets.

Like in the first set, Washington scored first in the third. The Huskies made the lead 2-0, but the Huskers capitalized on Husky mistakes to tied it at two.

Washington actually held what was essentially a one-point advantage through the early part of the set as the teams traded sideouts. Nebraska didn’t lead in the third set until the score was 6-5 Huskers.

The Husker advantage was short-lived. Washington re-took the lead at 8-7, but the Huskers then scored the next two to take the lead back.

The early part of the third set continued to be the teams trading leads, as Washington then scored two straight to take the 10-9 lead.

The Huskies then went up again, 11-10, but Nebraska battled back to take the lead again at 13-12. The Huskers held that one-point advantage at the media timeout, 15-14.

Out of the media timeout, the Huskers opened a two-point lead, 16-14 and followed it up with a point both saved and terminated by Malloy to take the 17-14 lead.

Kelly Hunter was actually set for a kill to make the score 18-14 Huskers and force Washington to use their first timeout of the third.

After keeping it close early, the Huskies lost touch with Nebraska late in the third set, though they did manage to force a Nebraska timeout with the Huskers up 24-21, the Huskers ultimately prevailed 25-21.

The Huskers hit .437 in the match and held the Huskies to .088 and far outpaced them in kills, 49-26. Andie Malloy led the way for the Huskers with 15 kills and hit .500. Amber Rolfzen had five kills on six attempts and hit .833.

The Huskers had seven blocks on the night, due in part to multiple Washington attacks that missed the block and flew out of bounds, led by Amber Rolfzen’s four block assists.

Nebraska had 43 digs on the day, led by 13 for Justine Wong-Orantes. No other Huskers was in double-digits. Washington had 23 digs.

This match was a far cry better than the Friday morning match against Penn State. The Huskers were dynamic offensively, mixing up the placement of attacks and tooling blockers successfully. Obviously, it helped significantly that Washington really struggled to attack or dig, but the Huskers certainly did their part for the match.

The Huskers will try to defend their National Championship next weekend in Columbus, Ohio. This match was the first Regional Final of the day, so the remainder of the match-ups for the Final Four were not set at the time this was published. Creighton being in the Elite Eight once again proves that Nebraska is a volleyball state.

GBR