Published: Fri, December 15, 2017
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Huskers on to the final

Huskers on to the final

Penn State and Nebraska were knotted up midway through the first set, but a 9-1 Husker run would give them some breathing room. "It was going to be an epic match - it was".

The No. 5 seed Cornhuskers (31-4) topped No. 1 Penn State (33-2) on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament semifinal in five sets to go to the national championship.

The Huskers won every statistical category in the match, while rallying from down 2-1 for the victory. "I think it will be very good for our team to have all that support down there", Cook said. The Lions (33-2) and Cardinal share the NCAA record with seven apiece.

Sweet scored to make it 10-8, and on the ensuing rally, Penn State again tried to find Lee, throwing her a tricky bump set in the back row.

"I thought it was a competitive match in a lot of ways", Penn State coach Russ Rose said. "I'm not disappointed in the players or the university I work at, but I'm certainly disappointed in the outcome of the match".

Redshirt freshman middle Lauren Stivrins had seven kills and nine total blocks for the match. Kendall White posted 16 digs. With AP Photos.Mikaela Foecke had 19 kills, Annika Albrecht and Briana Holman had 13 apiece and Nebraska fought off match point in the fourth set to beat Penn State in a five-set thriller in the NCAA volleyball semifinals.

NU (kills-aces-blocks): Foecke 19-1-3, Holman 13-0-4, Albrecht 13-0-4, Sweet 12-0-2, Stivrins 7-0-9, Hunter 2-1-6, Maloney 0-4-0, Atherton 0-2-0.

Huskers on to the final
Huskers on to the final

Kelly Hunter had 47 set assists and 23 digs, Kenzie Maloney had 21 digs and four ace serves and Albrecht added 13 digs. Nebraska had a huge performance from the back line, with a 90-76 advantage in digs.

"Kelly is a competitor", Cook said.

"At that point, you just know you have nothing to lose", Foecke said. We pride ourselves on that. Nebraska knotted things up at 7, thanks to four PSU miscues, but the Nittany Lions were soon back up four at 13-9 with kills by Tori Gorrell, Thelen and Frantti. The Huskers went up by four at 20-16 capitalizing on kills by four different players and two aces.

Like the rest of the Huskers, Hunter talks about the Nittany Lions with glowing respect. Maloney served a 3-0 run to end the set, a Nebraska 25-18 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Holman then fired a spike that the Lions dug up, but Detering got tangled with Thelen while running to the net to retrieve the pass, and could not get the ball set to a teammate. Penn State brought a nation-leading.345 attack percentage into the match, and saw their season end after hitting a season-low.217.

Interestingly enough, this is the second straight season where Nebraska will face a rematch with a semifinal opponent that the team beat during the regular season and then eliminated from the previous year's NCAA Tournament. "So you recognize the efforts of the other guys". They would go on to win the fifth 15-11. That gave them match point.

In the fifth set, Penn State got the early 6-4 lead. "That can't happen, especially at this level, in this game, in this arena. It's being able to hold onto the momentum and not letting it slip away".

"I have worked so hard and I've come back from so much - and that's just me", she continued. They even shared the Big Ten regular-season title this season.

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