For Thrilling 3-2 Win
----------------------------- 1 2 3 4 5 Penn State 25 25 24 19 6 NEBRASKA 23 23 26 25 15 -----------------------------
The Huskers, who never trailed by more than two at any point in the match, saw Penn State erase late leads in winning both the first and second sets by identical 25-23 margins. Nebraska's dreams of a second straight national championship were nearly derailed in the third set, as the Nittany Lions used another late rally to earn two match points at 24-22. But the Huskers won the final four points of the third set and then won the fourth set, 25-19 before dominating the fifth set, 15-6.
With the win, the Huskers advanced to Saturday's NCAA Regional Final, the 26th regional final appearance in school history. Nebraska (30-2) will take on the winner of the Washington-Arizona match at 3 p.m. on ESPNU.
In only her third NCAA Tournament match as a Husker, junior middle blocker Briana Holman paced four Huskers in double-figure kills with 17 kills, the highest total of her Nebraska career, while adding seven blocks. Senior twin sisters Amber and Kadie Rolfzen combined for 29 kills, with Amber pounding 15 kills and Kadie adding 14. Senior Andy Malloy finished with 13 kills for the Big Red. Kadie Rolfzen produced a double-double and tied senior libero Justine Wong-Orantes with 18 digs to lead Nebraska. Junior setter Kelly Hunter dished out a match-high 50 assists while adding 10 digs for her 10th double-double of the season.
Nebraska produced seven more kills than Penn State, while the Nittany Lions out-blocked the Huskers, 17-14.5. NU was bolstered by a season-high nine aces. Nebraska hit .256 in the match, while Penn State attacked at a .234 clip, becoming only the third opponent this season to hit above .225 against Nebraska. Outside hitters Ali Frantti and Simone Lee combined for 43 kills. Lee led the way with a match-high 22 kills, while Frantti totaled a season-high 21 kills, including 16 in the first two sets to help Penn State to the 2-0 lead.
Penn State ended its season with a 24-10 record. The thrilling win was Nebraska's fifth straight victory over Penn State, and the Huskers third win over the Nittany Lions this season.
Set 1: Nebraska rallied from a 3-1 deficit to a 5-3 lead with big swings from Kadie Rolfzen and Malloy, as well as a Wong-Orantes ace. The Nittany Lions came right back to go ahead 6-5, keyed by three blocks early in the set. Nebraska went ahead 14-11 with a 4-0 run, which again came on the serve of Wong-Orantes. Amber Rolfzen set Kadie Rolfzen for a kill to make it 12-11, and a block by Amber Rolfzen and Malloy gave the Huskers the 14-11 lead. Penn State strung together a 3-0 run after the media timeout to even the set at 15-15 and force a Husker timeout. Malloy terminated the next rally, and an outstanding individual effort by Holman to get a ball over the net led to a two-point Husker lead at 18-16. With the set tied 19-19, the Nittany Lions served long and Holman posted her third kill for a 21-19 lead, and Penn State took a timeout. Simone Lee got a kill for Penn State on the next rally, but Kadie Rolfzen answered with a shot down the line. Three straight kills by Ali Frantti put Penn State ahead 23-22, and after Malloy tied the set, Frantti struck again for her ninth kill on 12 swings, giving PSU set point at 24-23. A solo block by Frantti ended the set in favor of Penn State, 25-23. Penn State's .389 to .263 hitting advantage and 6-1 blocks advantage proved to be enough to give the Huskers their first set loss of the tournament.
Set 2: The Huskers came out of the gate to a 5-1 lead with kills from four different players. The lead increased to 7-2 after two attacking errors by Penn State, but the Nittany Lions won the next four rallies after a timeout to cut it to 7-6. A block by Haleigh Washington -Penn State's ninth of the match - tied the set 8-8. Amber Rolfzen restored the Husker lead with a kill. Holman tacked on another one for an 11-9 lead. Penn State continued to bring the set level, but NU continued to answer as a kill by Malloy made it 14-13. Penn State committed a net violation to make it 15-13 Huskers, and an ace serve by Albrecht gave NU a 17-14 lead. After Penn State pulled within 17-16, Amber Rolfzen hammered an overpass. Holman and Kadie Rolfzen struck for kills, and then Holman blasted back another overdig for a 21-18 lead. A block by Kadie Rolfzen and Holman made it 22-19, but Frantti added two more kills to get Penn State back within one at 22-21. A solo block by Frantti tied the set at 22-22 and an ace by Kendall White gave Penn State its first lead of the set at 23-22. Another Frantti kill gave Penn State set point at 24-22, capping a 5-0 run. An Amber Rolfzen kill cut it to 24-23, but Frantti ended the second set at 25-23 with her 16th kill. Frantti accounted for five of Penn State's last six points after accounting for its final five points in set one.
Set 3: The Huskers again started strong, taking a 10-3 lead after a 5-0 run. Malloy had a solo block and a kill, as did Holman, while Foecke served an ace during the run. A pair of Amber Rolfzen kills sandwiched around one by Malloy made it 14-6 Huskers. A slew of great defensive plays led to another Amber Rolfzen kill for a 15-8 lead. Frantti again willed the Nittany Lions back into the set with a pair of solo blocks, and a Husker hitting error had the Nittany Lions back within striking distance at 16-14. Holman and Foecke combined for a block to get NU out of the rotation, and Kadie Rolfzen followed with a kill for an 18-14 lead. The Nittany Lions fought back once again, pulling within 18-17 on a Bryanna Weiskircher ace. Each time Penn State cut it to one, the Huskers answered, including a Malloy kill that made it 21-19. Kadie Rolfzen served an ace for a 22-19 lead, but Lee followed with a kill and a pair of Penn State blocks had the set level at 22-22, the first tie score since 0-0. Lee continued the run after a timeout with a pair of kills for match point at 24-22. But the Huskers weren't done. Amber Rolfzen began the comeback with a kill, and she combined with Hunter for a block to tie the set at 24-24. Foecke finished the set on a 4-0 Husker run with a pair of kills, as the Huskers won 26-24.
Set 4: Back-to-back kills by Holman and one by Kadie Rolfzen had the Huskers on top 5-3 early once again. A solo block by Malloy and a dump by Hunter helped NU to a 9-5 lead. The lead became six at 13-7 after a Kadie Rolfzen kill, and Holman smashed her 14th before a Foecke ace made it 17-9. Malloy tacked on a kill and then combined with the Rolfzen twins for a rare triple block and a 19-10 Husker lead. Lainy Pierce came in for the Nittany Lions and served a 5-0 run as they pulled within 19-15. Kadie Rolfzen ended the run with a kill, and Hunter won a battle at the net for a 21-15 lead. Malloy's 12th kill and an ace by Albrecht made it 23-16 Huskers. Kadie Rolfzen killed out of the back row for set point at 24-17, and Nebraska forced a fifth set when Holman put down her 15th kill for a 25-19 win.
Set 5: Albrecht served her third ace to begin the set and Amber Rolfzen added a kill for a 2-0 start. Penn State came back to tie the set 3-3, but a solo block by Hunter and PSU hitting error made it 5-3 Big Red. Kadie Rolfzen and Holman added a block, and the Huskers led 6-3 as Penn State took a timeout. Holman continued to dominate the set with another kill and a solo block for an 8-4 lead. After the teams switched sides, Foecke served an ace to make it 9-4. Holman's 17th kill gave the Huskers sideout, and a great dig by Kenzie Maloney led to an Amber Rolfzen kill, as the Huskers went up 11-6. Malloy followed with her 13th kill, and Wong-Orantes served an ace for match point at 14-6. The Huskers ended the match on a 6-0 run to win 15-6 after an Amber Rolfzen kill.
Next Up: Nebraska will face the winer of the Washington-Arizona match in Saturday's NCAA Regional Final. First serve for Saturday's match is 3 p.m. and the match will be televised on ESPNU.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
Penn State Post-Match Notes