Huskers Fall to Texas in Regional Final
OMAHA, Neb. - The fifth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team saw its season come to an end Monday, as the Huskers fell to No. 4 seed Texas, 3-1 at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.
Texas won the first set 25-22, before Nebraska bounced back to take the second set 25-19. The Huskers led by three points early in set three before Texas stormed back to win 25-15. The Longhorns then erased a 13-8 deficit in the fourth set, closing out the match with a 25-20 win. Texas (26-1) advanced to the NCAA Semifinal with the win, while Nebraska ended its first-ever spring season with a 16-3 record.
Texas hit .336 in the match, the highest mark by a Husker opponent this season. Asjia O'Neal had 10 kills on 17 swings with seven blocks, while Skylar Fields hit .630 and tied Logan Eggleston for match-high honors with 18 kills. Nebraska was held to a .171 attacking percentage. The Huskers did serve up nine aces, but Texas nearly matched that with eight aces of their own. The Longhorns doubled the Huskers in blocks (12-6), while Nebraska won the dig battle (48-45).
Madi Kubik led the Huskers with 15 kills. Kayla Caffey put down eight kills on only 14 swings and added five blocks. Lexi Sun had seven kills, 13 digs and a pair of aces, while Lauren Stivrins also had seven kills. Nicklin Hames had a double-double with 34 assists and 13 digs.
Set 1: Texas held the early advantage, 11-7, hitting .500 early. A kill by Sun and a Texas hitting error got the Huskers within 11-9, and they tied the score at 13-13 with kills by Kubik and Sweet. Texas regained a 15-13 lead at the media timeout via a pair of kills. The Longhorns increased their lead to four at 19-15, but Stivrins and Caffey recorded kills and an ace by Hames cut it to 20-18. Eggleston terminated, and a Texas block put Texas back up 23-19, and the Huskers used a timeout. Kubik sided out for the Huskers, but the Longhorns finished the set on top, 25-22. Texas hit .385 and overcame four service errors with 19 kills, while Nebraska hit .229 with 13 kills.
Set 2: Back-to-back aces by Hames got the Huskers off to a 3-1 start, Caffey and Sweet added kills to keep the Huskers up 6-5. Two kills put Texas back on top, 7-6, but Stivrins posted a kill and Hayley Densberger added an ace for a 9-8 Husker lead. Back-to-back hitting errors by Texas gave NU an 11-9 lead, but but Texas stayed with the Big Red at 11-11. Sun then tallied a kill and an ace, and two straight kills by Kubik put the Big Red up 15-11 at the media timeout. Texas scored two coming out of the timeout, but a serve into the net and another kill by Kubik restored a four-point Husker lead at 17-13. The teams traded sideouts for 10 consecutive rallies to keep Nebraska on top, 22-18, and the Longhorns hit wide to give the Huskers their biggest lead yet, 23-18. After a timeout, Caffey and Sweet stuffed a Texas attack, and Sun sealed it at 25-19 with a back-row kill.
Set 3: Nebraska took a 4-1 lead after kills by Caffey and Kubik, a block by that duo, and an ace by Sun. But the Longhorns scored a 5-0 run to go up 8-6, keyed by back-to-back aces by Eggleston. Texas gradually stretched out the lead the rest of the set, going up by 10 at 23-13 after a 5-0 spurt keyed by three kills by Fields. The Longhorns closed out set three on top 25-15.
Set 4: With Nebraska facing a must-win set, the Huskers came out with a kill by Caffey and a block by the junior middle blocker with Sun for a 5-4 lead. Texas answered to go up 8-6, but a service error by the Longhorns preceded kills by Sun and Kubik that put the Huskers ahead 9-8. Knuckles served an ace to make it 10-8, and Texas used a timeout. After the break, Kubik connected for a kill off an assist from Knuckles, and the sophomore libero served another ace to make it 12-8 Huskers. Sweet pounded a kill off a set from Stivrins to extend the lead to 13-8 via a 7-0 run. But the Longhorns scored seven of the next eight points - three via blocks - to go up 15-14. Sun leveled the score again with her seventh kill, but Eggleston tallied a kill and an ace for an 18-16 Texas lead. Texas held a 21-17 advantage before a service error and a kill by Kubik cut it to 21-19. The Longhorns answered with kills from Fields and Butler and a block by Butler for match point at 24-19. The Longhorns punched their ticket to the NCAA Semifinals at 25-21 on Fields' 18th kill of the match.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
- Nebraska ended its season with a 16-3 record, with all three losses coming to opponents currently ranked in the top eight of the AVCA poll.
- Nebraska fell to 118-34 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, but the Huskers still rank second in NCAA history in postseason wins and winning percentage (.776).
- Nebraska dropped to 15-15 all-time in NCAA Regional Final matches.
- John Cook fell to 85-22 in his NCAA Tournament career. He ranks third in NCAA history in career postseason victories.
- John Cook is now 77-17 in the NCAA Tournament as Nebraska's head coach. His .819 winning percentage at Nebraska is the top mark in NCAA history among any coach with at least 20 NCAA Tournament matches at one school.
- Nebraska had nine service aces, its second-highest total of the season.
- The Huskers' .171 attacking percentage was their second-lowest mark of the season.
- Lauren Stivrins had seven kills on a .357 attack percentage against Texas. In her four seasons at Nebraska, Stivrins owns a school-record .396 career hitting percentage in the NCAA Tournament.
- Lauren Stivrins finished the 2020-21 season with a .468 attack percentage. Her .468 hitting percentage was the second-best season hitting percentage in school history, falling just short of Tracy Stall's record (.473 in 2007).
- Texas hit .336, the first time in 25 matches a Husker opponent has hit .300.
- An opponent has hit .300 against Nebraska only three times in the past 12 NCAA Tournaments dating back to 2009, and each time it has been Texas. In addition to hitting .336 tonight, the Longhorns hit .321 in the 2016 NCAA Semifinal and .342 in the 2009 NCAA Regional Final.
- Texas had eight service aces in the match, an opponent high for the 2020-21 season.