Friday afternoon saw the #5-seed Nebraska Cornhuskers Women’s Volleyball Team took on the University of Colorado Buffaloes in a Sweet Sixteen match. The match was played as part of the Lexington Regional in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers swept the Buffs 25-19, 25-11. 25-21.
Colorado kept the first and third sets close, neither being a decisive run away for Nebraska. The second set was clearly a different animal. Colorado went up 3-1 in the second, and then Nebraska ran away the rest of the way 24-8. Through that set, CU had nothing for the Husker offense.
That set was an anomaly in this match, however. Colorado is not thought of as a traditional powerhouse school, but with the coaching staff in place led by second year head coach Jesse Mahoney, the program has shown marked improvement in the last two seasons. The team made the regional semifinals for the first time since 1997.
The Huskers led the match in every statistical category. Nebraska hit .292 while holding Colorado to .109. Annika Albrecht hit .344 with 13 kills. Jazz Sweet had nine kills and hit .533.
Nebraska’s defense came through at critical times for the Huskers. The team trailed more than once in the third set, but never let the Buffs get far away. The team had 10 blocks and 56 digs. Sydney Townsend played fantastically on the big stage leading the team with 14 digs. Kenzie Maloney had 11 digs and Kelly Hunter had ten. Briana Holman led the team with six combination blocks.
All season, Husker Coach John Cook has talked about the high-risk/high-reward serving mentality of the Huskers. That mentality was on full display in this match with the Husker notching nine aces, but seven errors. Mikaela Foecke, Kenzie Maloney, Hayley Densberger, and Kelly Hunter had two aces apiece. The other ace belonged to Albrecht.
The Huskers look to punch their ticket to Championship Weekend in Kansas City on Saturday afternoon. The Lexington final is the first of four straight volleyball matches on ESPNU on Saturday. Nebraska will take on host school Kentucky. Kentucky is the #4-seed in the tournament, but #6 in the coaches’ poll. There are many, including me, who think that Kentucky was seeded too high in this tournament. Nebraska has a chance to prove that they were slighted on Saturday.
First serve at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky, is scheduled for 3:00 CST Saturday December 9 on ESPNU. The match will also be carried on some Husker Sports Network affiliate radio stations.