Lincoln – The eighth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team posted its third straight postseason sweep on Friday, topping No. 9 San Diego in straight sets in an NCAA Regional Semifinal in front of 8,297 fans at the Devaney Center.
The Huskers never trailed by more than three at any point in the match, but were constantly pushed by a Torero squad who entered the match with the nation’s third-longest winning streak at 17 matches. San Diego produced more kills than Nebraska, but the Huskers committed fewer errors to advance to Saturday’s primetime NCAA Regional Final against No. 1 Texas.
First serve tomorrow Saturday is set for 8 p.m. and the match will be televised live on ESPNU. The Longhorns defeated Nebraska, 3-1, in the 2009 NCAA Regional Final in Omaha, and Texas topped the Huskers in five sets in Austin earlier this season.
Nebraska (26-6) was led by a match-high 14 kills from Kelsey Robinson and 11 kills from Meghan Haggerty on Friday. Haggerty hit .588 in the win, committing just one error in 17 swings. Robinson hit .265 and contributed nine digs and four blocks for the Huskers. Kadie Rolfzen narrowly missed a double-double with nine kills and 11 digs, while Mary Pollmiller dished out 29 assists and Justine Wong-Orantes totaled 14 digs. Wong-Orantes also added an ace, as a trio of Husker freshmen combined to produce four aces, including two from Alexa Ethridge and one from Brenna Lyles.
The Huskers hit .254 as a team and out-blocked the Toreros, 9-4.
San Diego was led by 12 kills from Chloe Ferrari and 10 kills from Sandra Lozic. USD produced three more kills than Nebraska (46-to-43), but the Toreros committed 18 attack errors and 10 service errors. C’era Oliveira produced a match-high 17 digs, while Jianna Bonomi (22) and Rachel Alvey (19) combined to produce 41 of San Diego’s 45 assists. The Toreros ended their season with a 26-4 record while matching the best finish in school history.
In set one, the teams traded sideouts until seven consecutive points on strong serving from Lyles gave the Huskers a 9-3 lead and forced San Diego to call an early timeout. Nebraska, which produced 10 kills in its first 16 attacks, stretched the lead to 15-7 with three straight points. San Diego spent its final timeout after Robinson’s fifth kill gave NU a 19-10 advantage. The Toreros won back-to-back rallies for the first time following the timeout, then used three consecutive points to trim the lead to 22-16. Three straight Husker attack errors pulled USD within four at 23-19, before two Robinson kills in the final three rallies closed out a 25-20 victory. Robinson produced eight kills in the set, as Nebraska hit .325 and out-blocked San Diego, 3-0.
Three consecutive points gave Nebraska an early 6-3 lead in set two, before San Diego stormed back to tie the score at 7-7. The Huskers could not regain a three-point advantage until taking a 15-12 lead at the media timeout. Nebraska stretched the lead to four after the timeout and the teams then traded sideouts for the next 15 rallies before San Diego held serve to cut the lead to 23-21 and force a Husker timeout. A Haggerty kill gave Nebraska three set points and the Toreros fought off the first two before the Huskers spent their final timeout. The timeout was well spent, as a service error gave Nebraska a 25-23 win. Errors doomed San Diego in set two, as the Toreros produced seven hitting errors and five service errors. USD produced a 21-12 advantage in kills in the set, out-dug Nebraska by five and matched the Huskers with a pair of blocks.
Set three was a back-and-forth affair that featured 13 ties and five lead changes. San Diego won the first three rallies of the set to take its first multi-point lead of the match. Four straight Torero errors – including back-to-back Husker blocks – quickly put Nebraska in front 4-3. USD regained the lead at 10-8 after NU committed three consecutive errors. Nebraska fought back to regain the lead at 14-13 before San Diego won the next two rallies to earn a one-point advantage at the media timeout. The teams traded sideouts until back-to-back Ethridge aces put the Huskers back on top, 19-17. A service error and a Kadie Rolfzen roll shot pushed the NU lead to 21-18. A thunderous Robinson kill put Nebraska two points away from taking the match and forced a Torero timeout with the score 23-20. A Husker block gave NU four straight match points and again San Diego spoiled two straight opportunities and forced a Husker timeout. A Haggerty ricochet kill following the timeout gave Haggerty her 11th kill and Nebraska a 25-22 win. NU held San Diego to a .125 attack percentage in the third set, while Kadie Rolfzen put down five kills.