KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Mikaela Foecke had 20 kills and hit .250, Kelly Hunter had 37 assists and No. 5 Nebraska defeated No. 2 Florida in four sets (25-22, 25-17, 18-25, 25-16) to capture the program’s fifth national championship.
The Cornhuskers flipped the script on the defensive-minded Gators, as it was their suffocating defense that fueled them to victory. They allowed the Gators to hit just .141, their lowest hitting percentage of the season, and four Cornhuskers finished with double-digit digs.
Nebraska was able to grind out a first-set victory despite both teams
struggling offensively, and followed that up with a commanding second set. Florida refused to go down in a sweep though, coming back strong in the third before ultimately falling in the fourth and decisive frame.
Foecke, who was named the tournament’s co-Most Outstanding Player with teammate Hunter, led the match with her 20 kills on 56 swings. She finished with a semifinal-high total of 39 after posting 19 against Penn State on Thursday.
Kenzie Maloney led the Cornhuskers with 15 digs. She also finished with 2 kills, despite having only registered one across her entire three-year career as a starter going into the match.
Shainah Joseph and Carli Snyder each finished with 11 kills for Florida, both hitting less than .200. Snyder led the team with 15 digs as well. Caroline Knop finished with 12 digs, giving her the single-postseason school record of 93.
The teams had already met once this season, a late August clash in the opening tournament of the season. Florida won that match in five sets, but Nebraska was without starting setter Hunter due to injury, a significant blow to its offense.
A crowd of 18,516 packed into the Sprint Center to watch the match, resulting in both a sellout and an NCAA record for attendance.
THE DYNASTY CONTINUES
The win marks the fifth national championship in program history for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have won the title two out of the last three seasons, and have made the Final Four in each of those years as well.
KEEP ON COOKING
This is Nebraska coach John Cook’s fifth national championship. He is the fourth coach to ever win at least four titles, and just the second to do so in the 64-team tournament era.