By NU Athletic Communications | 12/16/2017
Kansas City, Mo. – The Nebraska volleyball team won its fifth national title on Saturday night, defeating the No. 2 seed Florida Gators, 3-1, in front of an NCAA-record 18,516 fans at the Sprint Center, most of whom were wearing red.
The Huskers won their fifth national title and second in three years, becoming just the third team in NCAA history to win five volleyball national championships. Nebraska won the opening set 25-22 and cruised to a 25-17 win in set two. Florida bounced back to win the third set, 25-18, before Nebraska came out on fire in set four, racing to a 9-1 lead en route to a 25-16 victory.
Mikaela Foecke paced the Huskers with a match-high 20 kills, as Nebraska totaled 14 more kills than the Gators. Kelly Hunter dished out 37 assists and tied her season high with six kills while finishing her NCAA Tournament career with a 16-1 record. Foecke and Hunter were named the co-Most Outstanding Players of the NCAA Championship and were joined on the team by libero Kenzie Maloney, who had a match-high 15 digs and produced a career-high two kills. Lauren Stivrins added nine kills and Briana Holman and Annika Albrecht each chipped in six kills. The Huskers hit .234 in the match – nearly .100 higher than Florida, and out-dug the Gators, 65-49.
Fans can welcome home the national champions on Sunday, as the Nebraska Athletic Department will host a free championship celebration tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Doors open at 11 a.m. and free parking will be available in lot 58.
Set 1: Holman put the Huskers up 5-3 after a block and a kill on back-to-back rallies. Foecke added a solo block and an ace on consecutive rallies for a 7-4 Husker lead. Florida responded to take an 11-9 lead with a 5-1 run. The Gators extended the lead to 15-11 with three straight kills, but Foecke gained sideout for the Huskers to spark a 7-0 run that would put NU up 18-15. Hunter’s service run included an ace, and Foecke hammered two more kills during the spurt. After Florida ended NU’s run, the Gators would rally to tie the set at 22-22 before committing a service error. Florida hit the antenna on its next attack to give Nebraska set point at 24-22. After a Florida timeout, Foecke went crosscourt for the set clincher. Nebraska prevailed despite hitting .081, as it held Florida to .025 hitting and won the serving battle by two aces. Both teams had just 10 kills in the set, with Foecke posting five for the Big Red.
Set 2: Nebraska scored the first three points of the set with Holman stuffing a shot and putting down a kill. The teams began siding out an efficient clip, but Sweet, Foecke and Stivrins tallied consecutive kills on Townsend’s serve to put NU up 9-5. Stivrins and Foecke terminated again, and Hunter smashed an out-of-system kill from the right side for a 12-7 lead. Holman and Albrecht teamed up for a block, and Florida hit long to increase the lead to seven at 16-9. After Florida pulled within 17-12, Albrecht tooled the Florida block and the Gators mishandled a Townsend serve to keep NU up by seven, 19-12. A Florida timeout couldn’t slow the Husker attack, as Albrecht added another kill after the break and Florida hit long to make it 21-12 after the 4-0 run. Florida pulled within 23-17 but misfired on its next attack. The Huskers took the 2-0 lead with a 25-17 win on Foecke’s 10th kill of the match. NU was much sharper in set two, hitting .417.
Set 3: Florida gained an early 12-7 advantage thanks to a 4-0 run when the score was tied 6-6. The Gators built the lead to 16-10 before Foecke and Albrecht terminated to draw the Huskers within 16-12. But Nebraska could get no closer than four, as Florida scored the next three points to go up 19-12. Stivrins struck for three kills to help NU cut what was an eight-point deficit to five at 22-17, but Snyder terminated for sideout for Florida, and the Gators won 25-18 to take the set.
Set 4: Hunter and Foecke got Nebraska off to a positive start with kills, and Foecke and Holman stuffed a Gator attack as NU claimed a quick 4-0 lead. A slew of Gator errors, followed by an ace by Hunter and another block by Holman and Foecke made it 9-1 Huskers. After Florida chipped away to within 12-6, a service error and a Foecke kill restored an eight-point lead at 14-6. But the Gators scored four in a row to slice the lead to four at 14-10, and the Huskers called timeout. Foecke terminated after the break and Maloney dug a Joseph shot back to the Florida side for her second kill of the match. She then served an ace to make it 17-10 Huskers. Albrecht, Holman and Sweet swatted kills to keep the lead at seven, 20-13. Stivrins found the floor on back-to-back rallies to give the Huskers a 23-15 lead, and Hunter dumped a kill for match point at 24-15.
Source: NU Athletic Communications