It is on to the Seattle regional with a sweep of Auburn.
Lincoln. — The No. 3 Nebraska volleyball team reeled off its 10th straight sweep with a 3-0 (25-10, 25-17, 25-15) win over the Auburn Tigers on Friday night at the NU Coliseum to punch its ticket to the Seattle Regional next weekend. The Huskers will be making their 27th straight appearance in the regional round as Nebraska has advanced to every regional since 1984.
"This is the kind of match we have been waiting for," Head Coach John Cook said. "Last night was a good one to get through but tonight was a match I felt like our team was dialed in and ready to go and did a nice job defensively against Auburn. We talk about suffocating teams and I think they felt suffocated tonight."
Hannah Werth and Kayla Banwarth anchored the NU defense with 11 and 10 digs, respectively, while Jordan Wilberger had eight block assists against the Tiger attack. The Huskers out-dug the Tigers 43-25 and out-blocked them 11-2 to hold them to -.011 hitting, the lowest hitting percentage by Husker opponent in the NCAA Tournament since Alabama A&M hit -.072 in the first round of the 2005 tournament.
"We knew their go-to players and knew we needed to be disciplined," Wilberger said. "I just reminded the blockers to have and be over low and have steady hands. Let's stop them."
Nebraska's offense was clicking all night as Morgan Broekhuis' match-high eight kills led five Huskers who had at least four kills, including seven from Tara Mueller, six from Wilberger and four each from Brooke Delano and Werth. Senior Sydney Anderson paced the Huskers with 14 assists, added a kill and put away three aces as NU hit .321 as a team.
Feeding off a packed house at the NU Coliseum the Huskers jumped out to a 7-3 lead as Broekhuis started the match with a block and kill before Banwarth notched an ace. Auburn then took three of the next four rallies to cut the Husker lead to two, 8-6. It would be the closest the Tigers would get the rest of the set as NU caught fire with a 12-0 run to take a 20-6 lead. Mueller got the run going with a kill, one of three during the stretch, before Anderson served 11 straight points, including three aces over a four-play spurt.
Broekhuis added two more kills down the stretch and after Auburn scored on three straight rallies Sarah Bullock committed a service error to give NU the set, 25-10. Mueller and Broekhuis put away three kills apiece in the set as the Huskers hit .400 while NU's five blocks and 13 digs held the Tigers to -.148 hitting.
Unlike set one when the Huskers were able to pull away early, the Tigers kept Nebraska from stringing together points and were down just three at 9-6. Auburn then committed two errors and Werth added a kill as the Huskers doubled up the Tigers, 12-6, with their first 3-0 run of the set.
The Tigers trimmed Nebraska's lead to four, 14-10, but the Huskers took six of the next eight rallies to create a 20-12 cushion with Mueller adding two more kills while Wilberger scored a kill and combined for a block with Licht. They ended the set by splitting the final 10 rallies with a kill from Delano winning it for the Huskers, 25-17.
While the Husker offense cooled a bit and hit .237 in the set, Nebraska's defense kept up the pressure as Wilberger's four block assists helped NU hold Auburn to .049 hitting.
Just like they had in the first two sets, the Tigers stayed close early, but unlike the first two where Nebraska pulled away, Auburn was able to hang with the Huskers and took its first lead of the match at 8-7 following back-to-back Husker errors. Broekhuis tied the set at 8-8 on the next play, but Bullock and Kelly Fidero scored consecutive kills to put Auburn up, 10-8.
With the Tigers still up one, 12-11, Cook brought in Gina Mancuso to serve and the sophomore from Omaha got the Huskers going as she forced Auburn into two straight errors to give the Huskers their first lead since they were up 7-6. Wilberger then took over with three kills and a block over the next 10 rallies to put the Huskers up 21-14, resulting in an Auburn timeout.
The Tigers had nothing left in the tank as Mueller capped her final match at the NU Coliseum with back-to-back aces to send the Huskers to Seattle.
Nebraska will now head to Seattle, Wash., where it will play on Friday, Dec. 10 against the winner of tonight's 9:30 p.m. (CT) match between Hawaii and Washington. The Huskers have had quite a history in Seattle as two years ago they came back from a 0-2 deficit to beat Washington in five sets and earn a spot in the 2008 Final Four.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.