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Hail Varsity

December 9, 2016
Huskers Storm Back
For Thrilling 3-2 Win
            1   2   3   4   5
Penn State 25  25  24  19   6
NEBRASKA   23  23  26  25  15

Lincoln, Neb. — The top-seeded Nebraska volleyball team kept its hopes of a repeat national title alive on Friday, rallying from a two-set deficit for a thrilling 3-2 win over 16th-seeded Penn State in front of 8,240 fans inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

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.

Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications
Nebraska rallied from a 2-0 deficit for only the fourth time in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Penn State, 3-2.

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

Nebraska, which defeated Penn State for a third time this year, improved to 30-2 on the season.
NU rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win for the second time in 32 matches this season and for just the fourth time in its 131 all-time NCAA Tournament matches (also 2006 regional final vs. Minnesota, 2007 regional semifinal vs. Michigan State and 2008 regional final at Washington).
Nebraska is 4-1 in five-set matches this season, and the Huskers improved to 6-0 this season when losing the first set. The Huskers improved to 14-5 in five-set NCAA Tournament matches.
Despite losing the first two sets, Nebraska never trailed by more than two at any set and led for all but 21 of the match's 211 rallies.
The Huskers improved to 17-1 at home with their 12th straight home win. The 17 wins are Nebraska's most since moving into the Bob Devaney Sports Center and are the most home wins overall for NU since the 2007 season.
NU notched 30 wins in a season for the second straight season, for the 10th time under John Cook and for the 22nd time in school history.
The Huskers won their ninth straight NCAA Tournament match while improving to 101-30 all-time in postseason play, including a 38-19 record in regional play (26-6 in regional semifinals).
Nebraska advanced to an NCAA Regional Final for the fifth straight season and for the 26th time in the Huskers' 35 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Huskers have advanced to a regional final in 14 of John Cook's 17 seasons.
Nebraska improved to 69-6 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament, including a 15-2 record at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Huskers have won 47 of their last 50 home NCAA Tournament matches.
John Cook improved to 59-13 in NCAA Tournament play as Nebraska's head coach, including a 14-3 record in regional semifinal matches.
NU improved to 14-2 this season against ranked opponents.
Nebraska won its fifth straight match vs. Penn State, which marks the Nittany Lions' fifth-longest losing streak against a single opponent in program history.
The Huskers became the fourth team to defeat Penn State three times in the same season (also Ohio State in 1991, Purdue in 1982 and Rutgers in 1978).
Nebraska snapped a two-match losing streak to Penn State in the NCAA Tournament, defeating the Nittany Lions for the first time since the 1996 Regional Final in Lincoln.
The Huskers improved to 7-3 vs. Penn State in the NCAA Tournament, including a 3-0 record in regional semifinals. Eight of the 10 all-time postseason meetings between Nebraska and Penn State have been played in Lincoln, with the Huskers holding a 7-3 edge in the series (3-0 in regional semifinals).
Nebraska served a season-high nine aces in the win.
Senior Kadie Rolfzen's 14 kills gave her 204 career kills in the NCAA Tournament. She became the eighth Husker to record 200 kills in the postseason.
Kadie Rolfzen added a season-high 18 digs for her seventh double-double of the season and the 48th of her career.
Junior Kelly Hunter recorded her 10th double-double of the season and 21st of her career with a match-high 50 assists and 10 digs.
Junior Briana Holman finished with 17 kills, her most in a Husker uniform.
Junior Annika Albrecht finished with a season-high 14 digs.

Penn State Post-Match Notes

Penn State saw its season end in the regional semifinals for the second straight season. The Nittany Lions finished the year with a 24-10 record, the program' most losses since 1983.
PSU fell to 94-29 all-time in the NCAA Tournament (all matches under Russ Rose).
The Nittany Lions lost their fifth consecutive match to Nebraska, the fifth-longest losing streak to a single opponent in school history.
Penn State had won the previous two postseason meetings between the two programs, but the Nittany Lions fell to 3-7 all-time vs. Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament (0-3 in regional semifinals), including a 1-7 record in Lincoln.
Penn State had lost nine consecutive sets to the Huskers in Lincoln before coming from behind to win set one, which featured 14 ties and four lead changes.
The Nittany Lions finished the season with a 6-7 road record to mark the program's first losing road record since 1987.
PSU ended the year with a 5-8 record against ranked opponents.
Penn State trailed 22-20 (or worse) in each of the first two sets. Ali Frantti fueled the comebacks, scoring Penn State's final five points in set one (4 kills, 1 block) and five of the Nittany Lions' final six points in set two (4 kills, 1 block). PSU also trailed by 22-19 in set three but rallied to earn two match points at 24-22 before Nebraska won the set, 26-24.
Penn State lost for the first time this season when winning the first two sets (20-1).
Penn State had 6.0 blocks in the first set. In their earlier match in Lincoln this season, the Nittany Lions totaled only 5.0 blocks in the entire match. It took Penn State just 32 rallies to match its block total from the previous meeting.
enn State's 17.0 blocks in the match were a season high.
PSU hit .234 in the match, becoming only the third opponent to hit above .225 against Nebraska this season.
Junior Simone Lee finished with a match-high 22 kills. She finished the season with 503 kills, the third-highest single-season total in Penn State history (25-point rally scoring).
Lee added 12 digs - one shy of her career high - to produce her fourth double-double of the year.
PSU's starting outside hitters Ali Frantti and Simone Lee combined for 14 kills on 23 error-free swings. Through two sets, the duo had combined for 25 kills on .469 hitting.
Frantti finished with a season-high 21 kills, one shy of her career high. She also tied her career high with six blocks, while producing her third double-double of the season.
Frantti totaled 16 kills in the first two sets, two more than her combined total from the first two meetings with Nebraska this season (14 kills in eight sets).
Junior setter Abby Detering finished with 40 assists and 10 digs to notch her seventh double-double of the season and second in Penn State's three NCAA Tournament matches

Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.