In the opening NCAA Semifinal, #5 Nebraska continued its recent run of success against #1 Penn State with a gritty 3-2 win (25-18, 23-25, 24-26, 28-26, 15-11). The win puts Nebraska All-American senior setter Kelly Hunter at 7-0 against Penn State too. Now, Nebraska will play for the National Championship while Penn State goes out after a still strong 33-2 season. Below, both teams talked with the media and gave their post-match reactions.
The Huskers pulled out the victory doing so many things right – siding out, serving aggressively and accurately, a strong floor game, balance on offense, etc. Kelly Hunter was a big part in the gritty win and stayed undefeated against Penn State in her career before she talked about the match in the postgame:
“Penn State’s a great team. To win four National Championships in a row is just ridiculous. So we say they’re the team to beat. But Nebraska might be the team to beat too. So it’s been really cool to get to play them so many times and have that great Big Ten rivalry and come out on top. Tonight was a great match, and it was just so much fun to play, whether we were losing or nearly up or up by a lot. So they’re just always so fun to play, and it’s a great match to watch.”
Nebraska head coach John Cook also talked about the difference that his senior setter made on the match.
“I saw she got 23 digs tonight. But Kelly’s a competitor. She’s beaten pep state seven straight times. I mean, you tell me anybody ever in the history of volleyball that’s done that? I don’t know what it is about her when she plays them, but, again, they always bring out the best in us. She’s a great competitor.
We knew and she knew she had to play really well tonight for us to be able to beat Penn State. I mean, I think that’s — you look at Penn State, they’ve got two setters making decisions trying to figure out how to get kills and who to set. And we’ve got one setter, Kelly, doing it. And I think sometimes with one setter your team can flow a little bit better. She’s running the show. She’s setting things up, and she did a great job tonight.”
The full post-match with Cook, Hunter, Mikaela Foecke and Annika Albrecht can be seen below via the NCAA:
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS:
One of Penn State’s biggest issues on the night was the serve receive as the Huskers continued to put pressure on the Nittany Lions. Russ Rose noted that in the post-game presser.
“I think what Nebraska does is they have good service pressure. They’re a good defensive team. Those things kind of go hand in hand. They don’t make a lot of errors. We had a free ball coming over the net for match point and two girls other collided and fell. So then you go into the fifth game and you miss two serves and get aced and have five hitting errors. That’s why teams lose.”
The full post-match with Rose, Simone Lee and Haleigh Washington can be seen below via the NCAA: