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Huskers too strong for Tigers in NCAA Tournament second round

Huskers too strong for Tigers in NCAA Tournament second round
Courtesy/NU Media Relations

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska volleyball team reached its eighth straight NCAA Regional with a 3-1 win over Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday night.

The sixth-ranked Huskers rallied after dropping the first set, coming back for a 20-25, 25-20, 32-30, 25-18 win in front of a crowd of 8,091 in the final home match of the season. Nebraska, the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, will head to Madison, Wisconsin next weekend for regionals. The No. 4 Badgers will host No. 13 Texas A&M on Friday, while the Huskers will meet No. 12 Hawaii at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

Jazz Sweet had a big night to power the Huskers into their NCAA-record 35th regional appearance. Sweet led Nebraska with 17 kills, her most ever in an NCAA Tournament match and one shy of her career high overall. Sweet also tied her career high with six blocks and added four digs, two shy of her career high. Lexi Sun (13 kills), Madi Kubik (11) and Lauren Stivrins (11) also had double-figure kills for the Big Red. Nebraska committed nine errors and hit .000 in the first set but had only 10 errors while hitting .350 over the final three sets. The Huskers hit .267 overall in the match. Nicklin Hames dished out 42 assists and had 12 digs, while Kubik also had a double-double with 10 digs to go along with her 11 kills.

Defensively, Nebraska out-blocked Missouri 13-6 and out-dug the Tigers, 59-53. The Huskers were also strong at the service line with seven aces against only three errors, with Hames and Megan Miller each serving up three aces.

Leketor Member-Meneh led Missouri with a match-high 19 kills to pace three Tigers in double-figure kills. The Tigers ended their season with a 22-8 record, while Nebraska improved to 27-4.

Set 1: Sweet began the set with a block and two kills, and Kubik had a block and an ace as the Huskers claimed a 7-5 lead. But Missouri rallied with a 4-0 run to take a 9-7 lead and force a Husker timeout. Schwarzenbach and Sun struck kills and then teamed up for a block before Hames served an ace to restore a 12-10 lead. But the Tigers answered again with two blocks and a kill and two Husker errors, and Nebraska needed another timeout as it trailed 15-12. Missouri’s run continued with two more unforced Husker hitting errors, and the 7-0 run had Mizzou up 17-12 before a service error ended it. Tyanna Omazic had back-to-back kills to make it 20-13 Missouri, but Sweet posted a kill and a solo block, and Miller served back-to-back aces to pull the Big Red within 21-18 and force a Mizzou timeout. NU ended up cutting it to two at 22-20, but the Tigers scored the final three points, including back-to-back aces by Omazic to end the set, 25-20. Nebraska hit .000 in set one with nine attacking errors, while Missouri hit .212.

Set 2: NU came out of the gates with a 5-1 run, keyed by another Miller ace and two kills by Kubik. The Huskers led 9-4 after a kill by Sun, but Missouri ripped off four straight points to get within 9-8, but Sweet recorded two kills in a row to make it 12-9 Huskers. Stivrins had a pair of kills, and Sun had another as NU went up 18-14. Missouri responded with a pair of kills and an ace to get within 18-17, but Sweet sandwiched a pair of kills around one by Stivrins to put NU up 22-18. Stivrins terminated on the slide to earn set point at 24-20, and Nebraska evened the match with a 25-20 win. Nebraska out-hit Missouri .400 to .345 in the set.

Set 3: Missouri ripped off a 7-1 run to take a 10-4 advantage. Back-to-back solo blocks by Hames and Sun started a 10-1 Husker run in which the Huskers posted five blocks. Schwarzenbach combined for three of them, and Sun gave NU a 12-11 lead with two straight kills. Hames served an ace, and a block by Sun and Schwarzenbach made it 14-11. Sweet, Schwarzenbach and Kubik tacked on kills for a 19-15 advantage, and the lead went to five, 22-17, after an ace by Hames. The Huskers earned set point at 24-20, but Missouri scored five points in a row to take a 25-24 lead. Sweet answered with a clutch kill to tie it at 25-25, and Kubik tipped one for another Husker set point, 26-25. The teams traded points to a 27-27 tie, when Member-Meneh terminated a kill for set point for Missouri at 28-27. A service error tied the score again at 28-28, and Member-Meneh and Kubik traded kills to make it 29-29. Sun put NU on top, 30-29, and the Huskers stayed ahead 31-30 after a Missouri service error. Sweet and Schwarzenbach produced a block to end the thriller at 32-20. It was the Huskers’ sixth block of the set. Nebraska had seven set points, while Missouri had three chances to win it.

Set 4: Nebraska took an 8-4 lead after back-to-back blocks by Stivrins, one with Sweet and one with Kubik, part of a 5-0 run. Missouri sliced the deficit to one at 13-12, but Sun terminated back-to-back rallies, and Sweet continued her phenomenal match with two more kills to take Nebraska to an 18-13 lead. Two straight kills by Kubik and one each by Stivrins and Sweet made it 23-15 Nebraska after a 5-0 spurt, and the Huskers advanced to regionals with a 25-18 win.

Nebraska Post-Match Notes

  • Nebraska advances to an NCAA Regional for the eighth straight season, for the 25th time in the past 26 seasons and for the 35th time in school history.
  • The Huskers’ 35 NCAA Regional appearances are the most in NCAA history.
  • With the win, Nebraska improved to 115-32 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers rank second in NCAA history in wins and winning percentage (.782) in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Nebraska improved to 25-2 all-time in second-round NCAA Tournament matches.
  • The Huskers moved to 77-7 (.917) all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Nebraska improved to 22-2 in NCAA Tournament matches at the Devaney Center, including a 17-1 record since the program’s permanent move to the arena in 2013.
  • NU won its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament match at home.
  • John Cook improved to 82-20 in his NCAA Tournament career. He ranks third in NCAA history in NCAA Tournament coaching victories.
  • John Cook improved to 74-15 in the NCAA Tournament as Nebraska’s head coach, moving into third place for the most postseason coaching victories at one school in NCAA history.
  • John Cook has led the Huskers to an NCAA Regional in 19 of his 20 seasons.
  • Nebraska has won 54 straight matches against unranked opponents dating back to 2017.
  • Nebraska hit .000 with nine errors in set one, but hit .350 with only 10 errors over sets two, three and four.
  • Nebraska defeated Missouri 32-30 in the third set. That marked the longest set in the NCAA Tournament for the Huskers in the 25-point rally-scoring era.
  • Nebraska had seven services aces which tied the school record for most aces in a four-set NCAA Tournament match in the rally-scoring era. The Huskers also had seven aces against American in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and seven against Washington in 2015.
  • Jazz Sweet tied her career high with six blocks and had 17 kills, her most ever in an NCAA Tournament match and one shy of her career high overall.
  • Nicklin Hames and Madi Kubik each posted double-doubles for the Huskers. Hames posted her 16th double-double of the season, while Kubik notched her sixth double-double of the year.
  • Callie Schwarzenbach had eight blocks, one shy of her season high.
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