1 2 3 4 5 Nebraska 26 25 16 25 12 Stanford 28 22 25 15 15
Huskers Lose Hard-Fought NCAA Final
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Nebraska volleyball team fell just short of a second straight national title, falling to No. 1 Stanford in a five-set thriller Saturday night at the Target Center.
Nebraska fought off five set points before dropping the first set, 28-26. The Huskers evened the match with a 25-22 victory in set two, before Stanford grabbed a 2-1 lead with a 25-16 win in set three. But the Huskers fought back as they have done all season long, handing the Cardinal its worst set loss of the season with a 25-15 victory in the fourth set. In set five, Nebraska led early and the set was tied at nine before Stanford won six of the final rallies to win its NCAA-leading eighth national title. In one of the closest final matches in NCAA history, only one point separated the two teams as Stanford outscored Nebraska 105-104 in the match.
Nebraska (29-7) finished as the NCAA runner-up for the fourth time in school history, after winning the national title in 2015 and 2017. First-team All-American Mikaela Foecke was brilliant in her final match, recording a career-high 27 kills and hitting .296. She also had 12 digs to post her fourth straight double-double. Fellow first-team All-American Lauren Stivrins was unstoppable, putting down a career-high 19 kills on only 26 swings. Stivrins hit .615 for the match, the second-highest total ever in an NCAA Final by a player with at least 20 attempts. Foecke and Stivrins were both named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team, with Foecke earning the honor for the third time in her career.
Jazz Sweet added 10 kills and five blocks for Nebraska, while Kenzie Maloney had a team-high 17 digs to pace five Huskers with double-digit digs. Nicklin Hames had a career-high 62 assists while running an efficient Husker offense.
Nebraska had nine more kills than Stanford and hit .271 to the Cardinal’s .250, but Stanford had eight more digs and 2.5 more blocks than the Big Red. The Cardinal also served up nine aces, while Nebraska had just two aces with each team committing eight service errors.
Kathryn Plummer, the 2018 national player of the year an co-Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship, led the Cardinal with 19 kills. She shared most-outstanding-player honors with libero Morgan Hentz, who had 32 digs for Stanford. Holly Campbel (15 kills) and Audriana Fitzmorris (14 kills) also finished with double-figure kills for the Cardinal.
Stanford (34-1) finished the season with a 32-match winning streak.
Set 1: Sweet and Foecke each had a pair of early kills as the Huskers connected on five of their first seven swings to take a 6-3 lead. Foecke served an ace and the Huskers led 9-4 after a 3-0 run, as Stanford called timeout. Stanford scored five of the next seven points to cut the Huskers’ lead to 11-9, and Nebraska used a timeout. Davis terminated a kill for sideout after the timeout, but a Plummer kill and a Stanford ace brought the Cardinal within 12-11. Foecke kept Nebraska in front with a kill, and Stivrins and Sweet blocked a Plummer shot before Foecke pounded another kill for a 15-11 lead. The Cardinal rallied to take a 19-18 lead with a 4-0 run keyed by back-to-back aces by Kate Formico. After a timeout, Schwarzenbach put down a kill on the slide to tie the score at 19-19, but Stanford responded with a kill and another ace, its fifth of the set, to go up 21-19. The Cardinal pulled ahead 23-20 before Foecke notched a kill. But Plummer grabbed sideout for Stanford on the next rally. The Huskers fought off three set points with a block by Sweet and Stivrins, a Stanford hitting error and a Stivrins joust, and the score was tied again 24-24. The teams traded kills to a 26-26 tie, but a Nebraska hitting error put Stanford up 27-26 before a Cardinal block gave them the 28-26 lead.
Set 2: Stivrins, Sun and Foecke sparked a 3-0 run with kills to give Nebraska an early 6-4 advantage. Sun and Schwarzenbach blocked a Stanford attack to keep NU up two, 8-6, and the teams sided out for five rallies before a pair of Husker hitting errors wide put Stanford up 11-10. Stivrins and Sun terminated kills to put Nebraska back up 13-12, and a Stanford hit wide gave Nebraska a 15-13 lead at the media timeout. Two Stanford kills tied the score at 15-15, but a service error and block by Sweet and Schwarzenbach restored a two-point lead at 17-15. Davis and Foecke killed back-to-back rallies for a 19-16 Husker lead, and Stanford called timeout. On the next rally, the Huskers scrambled defensively to save two Stanford shots, and Foecke came up with another kill to make it 20-16. A service error by the Big Red and a block by Stanford cut the margin to two, 21-19. After a timeout, Foecke smashed her 13th and 14th kills on back-to-back rallies to put Nebraska ahead 23-19. Stanford answered with a block and a kill to cut the deficit in half, but Foecke connected again for set point at 24-21. Fitzmorris found the floor for Stanford to make it 24-22, and a Stanford net violation gave the Huskers the 25-22 win and evened the match at 1-1.
Set 3: Stanford jumped out to a 7-2 lead, getting two blocks and five kills along the way. The Huskers chipped away with three kills by Foecke and one for Schwarzenbach, and a block by Schwarzenbach and Sweet got the Huskers within two, 9-7. After Davis got a kill to keep NU down two, 10-8, Stanford rattled off seven straight points in a row to go up 17-8. The Cardinal pulled ahead 20-9 before the Huskers gained a little momentum with a 3-0 run to make it 20-12. Nebraska would get as close as seven, but the Cardinal took the 25-16 win to go up 2-1. Nebraska hit just .027 in the set after hitting .302 and .326 in the first two sets.
Set 4: Sweet opened the set with back-to-back kills, and a blast by Foecke combined with two Stanford errors had the Huskers up 5-0. Stivrins powered down overpasses on back-to-back rallies, and a two-hit violation on Stanford made it 9-1 Huskers before the Cardinal used their second timeout of the set. A trio of breakdowns by the Huskers allowed Stanford within 13-7, and NU called timeout. After Stanford cut it to five, Sun produced a kill and an ace on consecutive rallies, and Sweet added a kill for a 17-9 Husker lead. Sweet added another kill, and a hustle play by Maloney to save a ball led to a kill by Stivrins to make it 19-11. Stivrins and Foecke then stuffed a Stanford attack, and the Cardinal hit long for a 21-11 Husker lead. Stivrins’ 17th kill of the night pushed the Huskers to a 23-14 advantage, and her 18th kill gave NU set point at 24-15. A back-row blast by Foecke clinched the set at 25-15, forcing a game five. NU hit .412 in set four and held Stanford to .121.
Set 5: Foecke opened set five with a kill and Sweet and Schwarzenbach followed with a block. Foecke tied her career high in kills with 25 to put NU ahead 3-1, but Stanford scored the next four to take a 5-3 lead. Foecke and Stivrins tallied important sideout kills, and Stanford hit long to tie the score at 6-6. Nebraska served long, but Hames dumped a kill to keep it tied 7-7. However, Nebraska served long again, and Stanford led 8-7 as the teams switched sides. Campbell tipped a kill down for Stanford to make it 9-7 Cardinal, but Sun answered with back-to-back kills to knot the score at 9-9. Campbell tooled a block and Plummer drew a touch for a kill to make it 11-9 Stanford. Davis subbed in and earned sideout, but Campbell responded for Stanford, and Nebraska called timeout down 12-10. Gray dumped a kill and Wilson served an ace for match point at 14-10. Foecke kept NU alive with her 27th kill, and Plummer committed an attacking error to make it 14-12. But Stanford won 15-12 on a back-row kill by Meghan McClure.