Nebraska 3 vs Illinois 0 - 25-12, 25-21, 25-17
Nebraska served very tough tonight. This aspect of the match was critical not only tonight, but in every other remaining match in the NCAA tournament. Lauren Stivrins (our middle!!) had three aces. Her serve had a bunch of movement (picture a balloon floating in the breeze but coming super fast at your body) which made it tough to pass. Kenzie Knuckles also served three aces and had seven digs.
The defense didn’t stop, ever. While the scores indicate a convincing win, Illinois put up a fight. They hit hard, dug balls and wanted to prove they could play with Nebraska even without their 5th year senior, Megan Cooney. Cooney didn’t make the trip to Texas reportedly because of illness.
Illinois players stepped up to show they could lead and play without their senior leader. Nebraska’s defense answered the Illinois press. Keonilei Akana dug 13 balls, Nicklin Hames 10 and Lexi Rodriguez 8 in this three set match. There were very few balls hitting the ground on the Husker side of the net.
The offense was also very effective tonight. Kayla Caffey was high in the air and receiving all balls Hames sent her way for termination on the Illini side of the net. She had 11 kills and hit .529. Oh yes, she had five blocks as well! Madi Kubik had 11 kills and hit .290.
Both Ally Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause looked confident and inspired tonight. They hit the ball hard and with authority to spots they don’t always hit. Nebraska needs these positions to win. This confidence is welcome, and needed. Krause had 8 kills and hit .429. Batenhorst had 6 kills and hit .143.
#10 Nebraska advances to the NCAA Regional Final on Saturday, December 11 to face #2 Texas. First serve is set for 9 pm CT at Gregory Gym in Austin, Texas.
Nebraska’s defense meets Texas’ offense. Who will prevail?