Nebraska Falls in Regional Final to Texas

OMAHA, Neb. – The fifth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team saw its season come to an end Monday, as the Huskers fell to No. 4 seed Texas, 3-1 at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.

Texas won the first set 25-22, before Nebraska bounced back to take the second set 25-19. The Huskers led by three points early in set three before Texas stormed back to win 25-15. The Longhorns then erased a 13-8 deficit in the fourth set, closing out the match with a 25-20 win. Texas (26-1) advanced to the NCAA Semifinal with the win, while Nebraska ended its first-ever spring season with a 16-3 record.

Texas hit .336 in the match, the highest mark by a Husker opponent this season. Asjia O’Neal had 10 kills on 17 swings with seven blocks, while Skylar Fields hit .630 and tied Logan Eggleston for match-high honors with 18 kills. Nebraska was held to a .171 attacking percentage. The Huskers did serve up nine aces, but Texas nearly matched that with eight aces of their own. The Longhorns doubled the Huskers in blocks (12-6), while Nebraska won the dig battle (48-45).

Madi Kubik led the Huskers with 15 kills. Kayla Caffey put down eight kills on only 14 swings and added five blocks. Lexi Sun had seven kills, 13 digs and a pair of aces, while Lauren Stivrins also had seven kills. Nicklin Hames had a double-double with 34 assists and 13 digs.

Set 1: Texas held the early advantage, 11-7, hitting .500 early. A kill by Sun and a Texas hitting error got the Huskers within 11-9, and they tied the score at 13-13 with kills by Kubik and Sweet. Texas regained a 15-13 lead at the media timeout via a pair of kills. The Longhorns increased their lead to four at 19-15, but Stivrins and Caffey recorded kills and an ace by Hames cut it to 20-18. Eggleston terminated, and a Texas block put Texas back up 23-19, and the Huskers used a timeout. Kubik sided out for the Huskers, but the Longhorns finished the set on top, 25-22. Texas hit .385 and overcame four service errors with 19 kills, while Nebraska hit .229 with 13 kills.

Set 2: Back-to-back aces by Hames got the Huskers off to a 3-1 start, Caffey and Sweet added kills to keep the Huskers up 6-5. Two kills put Texas back on top, 7-6, but Stivrins posted a kill and Hayley Densberger added an ace for a 9-8 Husker lead. Back-to-back hitting errors by Texas gave NU an 11-9 lead, but but Texas stayed with the Big Red at 11-11. Sun then tallied a kill and an ace, and two straight kills by Kubik put the Big Red up 15-11 at the media timeout. Texas scored two coming out of the timeout, but a serve into the net and another kill by Kubik restored a four-point Husker lead at 17-13. The teams traded sideouts for 10 consecutive rallies to keep Nebraska on top, 22-18, and the Longhorns hit wide to give the Huskers their biggest lead yet, 23-18. After a timeout, Caffey and Sweet stuffed a Texas attack, and Sun sealed it at 25-19 with a back-row kill.

Set 3: Nebraska took a 4-1 lead after kills by Caffey and Kubik, a block by that duo, and an ace by Sun. But the Longhorns scored a 5-0 run to go up 8-6, keyed by back-to-back aces by Eggleston. Texas gradually stretched out the lead the rest of the set, going up by 10 at 23-13 after a 5-0 spurt keyed by three kills by Fields. The Longhorns closed out set three on top 25-15.

Set 4: With Nebraska facing a must-win set, the Huskers came out with a kill by Caffey and a block by the junior middle blocker with Sun for a 5-4 lead. Texas answered to go up 8-6, but a service error by the Longhorns preceded kills by Sun and Kubik that put the Huskers ahead 9-8. Knuckles served an ace to make it 10-8, and Texas used a timeout. After the break, Kubik connected for a kill off an assist from Knuckles, and the sophomore libero served another ace to make it 12-8 Huskers. Sweet pounded a kill off a set from Stivrins to extend the lead to 13-8 via a 7-0 run. But the Longhorns scored seven of the next eight points – three via blocks – to go up 15-14. Sun leveled the score again with her seventh kill, but Eggleston tallied a kill and an ace for an 18-16 Texas lead. Texas held a 21-17 advantage before a service error and a kill by Kubik cut it to 21-19. The Longhorns answered with kills from Fields and Butler and a block by Butler for match point at 24-19. The Longhorns punched their ticket to the NCAA Semifinals at 25-21 on Fields’ 18th kill of the match.