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Nebraska Wins a Hard Fought Regional Final Match Against Arkansas

It was immensely hard to earn a kill for either team as the floor defense was excellent

NCAA Womens Volleyball: Wisconsin at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska 3 vs Arkansas 1- 26-24, 25-14, 21-25, 25-23

Standing ovation for Arkansas volleyball. That was a fantastic match full of effort, strategy and a whole bunch of will to win. Well done Razorbacks. I suspect you just inspired a whole crop of players to want to wear your jersey.

Arkansas came into Devaney with a strong game plan, super tough serves and no fear. They led Nebraska late in the set and it took the crowd and a great team effort for Nebraska to take this set.

Huskers trailed 16-21. The serve receive passing was poor, Harper Murray and Ally Batenhorst both missed attacks long through the set. The Huskers were not in any rhythm. Then a few pieces fell into place. Bekka Allick had critical blocks. Murray killed a ball with authority. Nebraska scored 10 points to Arknasas’ 3 in the final points of the game. 26-24.

Set two, Nebraska began to run the offense, pass serve with accuracy and most importantly, they began to block the ball straight down. This is not to say Arkansas was done however.

Multiple times after long rallies, Husker players celebrated with relief and fatigue as the rally just kept going. The Razorbacks dug balls and played scrappy volleyball like the best of them. It took a lot of work to make the ball fall on their side of the court.

The best part of Arkansas’ hustle and battling to keep the ball off the floor is that it was contagious. Nebraska started going after balls with the urgency of a Regional Final.

Andi Jackson was excellent in set two. She ran the slide well and Arkansas only sent one blocker with her so Jackson had a significant advantage. Nebraska won set two 25-14.

Arkansas did not go away. The Razorbacks continued to hit tough serves. Jill Gillen had two service aces in this set as she hit the ball to space and forced Husker passers to move and at the same time decide if it was in or out.

Set three went point for point with both teams continuing to make adjustments. Nebraska was aced three more times in this set as Arkansas could find both the seams between passers and hit that location with velocity. The trouble in the serve receive pattern was the cause of so much of the chaos on the Husker side of the net. Arkansas took set three 25-21.

Set four was a slug for slug set as both teams settled into their game plan. Huskers had 15 kills and 10 errors in this set for a .119 hitting percentage while the Razorbacks had eight kills and eight errors for a .000 hitting percentage. Arkansas continued to locate serves in very challenging position for Nebraska. When the match came to a close it was on a missed serve. Nebraska wins 25-23.

Allick finished the night with 12 blocks and five kills. Merritt Beason had eight blocks and 19 kills. The statistics do not show high numbers for hitting percentages but that is due largely to the massive effort that both teams put into floor defense. It was VERY hard to make a ball hit the floor on either side.

Pack your bags, Nebraska is on the way to Tampa to play Pittsburgh.

All tournament team for this region:

MVP Merritt Beason, Nebraska
Bergen Reilly, Nebraska
Lexi Rodriguez, Nebraska
Jill Gillen, Arkansas
Maggie Cartwright, Arkansas
Bianca Bertalino, Georgia Tech
Azhani Tealer, Kentucky

NCAA Tournament Scores:

Pitt 3 vs Louisville 2
Wisconsin 1 vs Oregon 0 (in progress)