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December 12, 2015
Headed to Omaha!
Huskers Beat Washington
to Reach NCAA Semifinals
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Hunter
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Rolfzen
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                 1   2   3   4
Washington (1)  17  25  20  21 
NEBRASKA   (5)  25  21  25  25 
----------------------------- 

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Nebraska volleyball team will officially make the journey to Omaha for the NCAA Semifinals.

The fourth-seeded Huskers qualified for their first NCAA Semifinals since 2008 by beating fifth-seeded and top-ranked Washington, 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21), on Saturday at Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum.

Next Thursday, Nebraska's 12th NCAA Semifinals appearance will occur at the same place the last two have - at the CenturyLink Center (formerly Qwest Center) in Omaha. Match times are set for 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 17, though which time slot the Huskers play in will be determined after the four teams are set. Nebraska will face the winner of No. 1 USC/No. 8 Kansas. The NCAA Championship match is set for Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

All-session tickets to the NCAA Championship can be purchased here while they are still available. As of last week, about 1,700 all-session tickets remained.

In the regional final, setter Kelly Hunter led the Huskers (30-4) with 46 assists, seven kills, seven digs and six blocks. Hunter's distribution and timely attacks keyed Nebraska's surge to Omaha.

Kadie Rolfzen had 20 kills and 15 digs for her ninth straight postseason double-double, while Amber Rolfzen had nine kills, eight blocks and four digs. On the pins, Mikaela Foecke had 11 kills and Kelsey Fien had 10. Justine Wong-Orantes led the strong Husker back row again with 18 digs. Kenzie Maloney had seven, and Annika Albrecht added five.

Huskers
Photo Courtesy Britney Howard, Kentucky
Huskers celebrate win to head to the NCAA semifinals in Omaha.

Nebraska beat Washington in nearly every statistical category, including hitting (.296 to .204), blocks (12 to 11), digs (61 to 49) and service aces (seven to five).

Washington (31-3) was led by Lianna Sybeldon's 15 kills and six blocks.

Set 1: Nebraska came out of the gate on a mission. Kadie and Amber Rolfzen each had a kill and combined for two blocks to put NU up 7-3. The Husker block kept rolling as Amber Rolfzen and Fien added another before three straight kills made it 13-4. Washington went on a three-point run to get within 17-12, but a Foecke kill ended that spurt and Nebraska outscored Washington the rest of the way for a 25-17 win. Amber Rolfzen had four kills and three blocks in the set, as the Huskers won the hitting battle .304 to .148 and had four blocks in a dominant set.

Set 2: Washington built a 5-3 lead, but Nebraska erased it and took a 6-5 lead with two Amber Rolfzen kills. After back-and-forth rallies, the Huskers went up 12-8 an an Amber Rolfzen ace. The Huskies cut it to 12-11 before Hall ended the run with a kill. The teams battled back and forth, but Washington hit wide and Amber Rolfzen and Hunter teamed up for a block and a 19-17 Husker lead to force a UW timeout. The Huskies came out of the timeout with a 5-0 run to take a 22-19 lead, and Washington held on for the 25-21 win. Although the Huskers again had four blocks in the set, their hitting percentage dropped to .093 while UW hit .146.

Set 3: Washington got a pair of aces from Cassie Strickland to go up 6-2. The Huskers fought back to within 7-6 with some heavy hitting from Foecke, and an ace by Sydney Townsend tied it 8-8. The Huskers took their first lead of the set at 14-13, but Washington drew even on the next rally. But kills by Foecke and Fien pushed Nebraska in front, 16-14, and led to a dominating Husker finish. Nebraska went up by three, 19-16, on Hunter's sixth kill of the match. Hunter then served back-to-back aces for a 22-17 Husker lead. Fien ripped a kill for a 4-0 run and 23-17 NU lead. Kadie Rolfzen and Foecke closed out the set with kills for a 25-20 Husker win.

Set 4: One set away from Omaha, the Huskers weren't about to let it out of their grasp. NU jumped out to an 8-3 lead with three kills by Kadie Rolfzen, strong back row play and Hunter's timely attacks. A kill by Amber Rolfzen and block by Amber Rolfzen and Hunter gave the Huskers a 15-10 lead and forced a Washington timeout. Foecke and Amber combined for another block out of the timeout to make it 16-10. Kadie Rolfzen continued to fire away and put NU in front, 22-17. Washington cut it to 22-19, but the Huskers held strong and finished the job with a 25-21 win to clinch the first NCAA Semifinals bid.

Notes

Nebraska will make its 12th NCAA Semifinals appearance, tied for second all-time with Penn State and UCLA.
The Huskers are back in the NCAA Semifinals for the first time since 2008, when the NCAA Championship was also held in Omaha. The NCAA Championship has been held in Omaha each of the past three years Nebraska has reached the final four (2006, 2008, 2015).
Nebraska has won three national championships (1995, 2000 and 2006), tied for fourth-most all-time.
Saturday's win snapped a string of three straight seasons that ended with a loss in the regional final.
Head Coach John Cook has now taken Nebraska to six NCAA Semifinals in his 16 years as head coach at Nebraska. In his five previous trips (2000, 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2008), the Huskers are 3-2 in the semifinal round.
John Cook improved to 62-17 in his NCAA Tournament coaching career, including 55-13 at Nebraska.
The Huskers have won at least 30 matches in nine of Cook's 16 seasons.
The Huskers posted their 14th consecutive victory, their longest win streak since 16 straight in 2011.
The Huskers have beaten two teams ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Poll this season (Penn State and Washington) for the third time since the poll was formed in 1982. Nebraska last beat two No. 1 teams (UCLA and Penn State) in 2012.
Nebraska and Washington have met six times in the sweet 16 or later, and the Huskers hold a 4-2 record in those matches. The Huskers have won three straight NCAA Tournament matches against UW. The last time Nebraska reached the final four - 2008 - also came after beating Washington in the regional final, 3-2 in Seattle.
Junior outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen had 20 kills and 15 digs to post her 16th double-double of the season and the 41st of her career.
Rolfzen has posted a double-double in nine consecutive NCAA Tournament matches dating back to 2013.
Libero Justine Wong-Orantes had 18 digs in the match, increasing her total to 1,374 career digs, moving her into fourth place in school history. Wong-Orantes has 521 digs on the season, joining Dani Busboom Kelly and Kayla Banwarth as the only Huskers to reach 500 digs in a season.
Junior middle blocker Amber Rolfzen had eight blocks and now has 174 total blocks this season, the highest total by a Husker since Melissa Elmer's school-record 250 in 2005.
Kelly Hunter had 46 assists and now has 1,412 for the season, the highest single-season total by a Husker since Rachel Holloway's 1,503 in 2006.
The Huskers on the Lexington Regional All-Tournament Team were Kadie Rolfzen (MVP), Amber Rolfzen, Kelly Hunter and Justine Wong-Orantes.

Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.

 
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