- #5 Nebraska def. #1 Penn State 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 24-26, 28-26, 15-11)
- Nebraska moves to 31-4; Penn State ends the season at 33-2
- Nebraska advances to the national championship match
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Box Score
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke just missed a 20-20 effort with 19 kills and 19 digs to pace No. 5 seed Nebraska to a five-set win over No. 1 Penn State and send the Huskers to Saturday’s national title match.
The Huskers won every statistical category in the match, while rallying from down 2-1 for the victory. Nebraska outhit Penn State .249 to .217, including .545 to .133 in the final set. The Huskers also bested PSU in kills (66-62), aces (10-5), blocks (13-12) and digs (90-76).
Senior outside Annika Albrecht (13), senior middle blocker Briana Holman (13) and freshman right side Jazz Sweet (12) also aided the Huskers offense with double-digit kill efforts. Holman hit at a team-best .400 clip, while redshirt freshman middle Lauren Stivrins notched seven kills and a team-leading nine blocks. Senior setter Kelly Hunter paced the defense with 23 digs to go with 47 assists and six blocks. Junior libero Kenzie Maloney followed with 21, while Foecke (19), Albrecht (13) and senior defensive specialist Sydney Townsend (13) also posted double-digit saves. Maloney served up four of the team’s 10 aces.
Senior outside Simone Lee and senior middle Haleigh Washington paced the Nittany Lions with 18 and 13 kills respectively. Lee also added 15 digs and two aces, while Washington notched six blocks. Senior right side Heidi Thelen and senior outside Ali Frantti added nine kills apiece, while Thelen put up a team-best seven stuffs. Redshirt junior setter Bryanna Weiskircher pulled up a team-best 18 digs, followed by sophomore libero Kendall White (16), Lee (15) and Frantti (10).
Penn State scored five of the first eight points in the decisive fifth set with kills by four players and a Husker service error. Nebraska countered with six of the next seven points to go up 9-6. Two PSU miscues and kills by Holman and Albrecht aided the rally. Kills by Lee and Frantti pulled the Nittany Lions within one at 9-8, but a hitting error, a solo stuff by Stivrins and two Albrecht kills put the Huskers two points from the match. A Foecke kill made it 14-10, but a service error kept the set going. In the end, a kill by Hunter put Nebraska into the national championship match with a 15-11 win.
Nebraska outhit Penn State .407 to .182 in the opening stanza, dominating the latter half of the set en route to a 25-18 win. After three ties, the last at 8-all, Penn State pushed ahead 11-8 with two kills by Lee and one by Frantti. Nebraska turned the tables with a 9-1 run, as Foecke and Holman notched two kills and a block apiece to go with two aces. Down 17-12, Penn State cut the margin to three on four occasions, last at 20-17. The Huskers closed out the 25-18 win with a 5-1 run, including an ace, kills by Hunter and Holman and a stuff by Foecke and Lauren Stivrins.
Penn State kicked off Set 2 on a 6-2 run as Washington notched two kills and three others added putaways. Nebraska knotted things up at 7, thanks to four PSU miscues, but the Nittany Lions were soon back up four at 13-9 with kills by Tori Gorrell, Thelen and Frantti. The Huskers rallied with an 11-5 run, capped by three straight blocks, to grab a 20-18 lead. Foecke and Albrecht each turned in two kills in the rally. Penn State put in Nia Reed, who promptly downed two kills to make it 20-all, starting a final 7-3 run. After a tie at 23, a Lee kill and stuff by Detering and Gorrell capped the win.
The Nittany Lions took a quick 10-4 lead in Set 3 as Lee tacked on three kills and a block and Washington posted a stuff and a putaway. Nebraska closed the gap and even took a brief 12-11 lead as Sweet downed three kills and Albrecht chipped in two. A block by Gorrell and Thelen and a Washington putdown gave PSU a 13-12 advantage. The Huskers went up by four at 20-16 capitalizing on kills by four different players and two aces. Down 22-18, Penn State scored seven of the next eight to earn a set-point try at 24-23. Four players notched kills and Nebraska contribute to miscues. A block tied it up at 24, but a Thelen kill and a hitting error gave PSU the 26-24 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
Penn State rallied again in Set 4 and had a set point try at 26-25, but a front court collision allowed Nebraska to tie it up. Kills by Sweet and Stivrins sealed the 28-26 win and sent the match to a decisive fifth set. After getting off to a 4-0 start and a 9-4 lead with help from two blocks and two kills by Washington, PSU saw Nebraska surge ahead 16-14. Two kills each by Stivrins and Holman and two aces put the Huskers on top. Nebraska upped its edge to four at 21-17. The Nittany Lions were within one three times, last at 23-22 before facing a Husker set-point try at 24-22. A service error and Lee putaway thwarted two efforts and another Lee putdown stopped a third at 25-24. A stuff by Thelen and Gorrell gave Penn State its first shot at the match 26-25, but the Nittany Lions could not hold on.
DOG PILE! #NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/h1lD7ZZvJz
— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 15, 2017
"We're going to the 'ship!" #WhyNotUs#WithEachOtherForEachOther pic.twitter.com/wVbk1mGGPO
— Husker Volleyball (@Huskervball) December 15, 2017