Husker volleyball lose NCAA title to Wisconsin in five sets
No. 10 Nebraska gave Big Ten rival No. 4 Wisconsin everything they could handle, but the Huskers fell to the Badgers in five sets in the 2021 NCAA Championship game.
COLUMBUS, Oh. (KLKN) – No. 10 Nebraska gave Big Ten rival No. 4 Wisconsin everything they could handle, but the Huskers fell to the Badgers in five sets in the 2021 NCAA Championship game.
The Huskers got off to an electric start in the first set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead against the Badgers. Wisconsin would settle in, going on a run to take a 7-6 lead. The Huskers would regain control of the set with 5-0 scoring run of their own that featured three kills by Madi Kubik. The Badgers stalled the Huskers run after an attack error by Kubik, which made the score 16-11. Wisconsin was able to cut the Husker lead to two with a 5-1 run to make the score 19-17. The Huskers seized control after a Kayla Caffey kill and three straight errors by Wisconsin to make the score 23-18. Nebraska reached set point after a Wisconsin service error, but the unfazed Badgers went on a 3-0 run to cut the Husker lead to 24-22. The Huskers closed the door on set point #4 with a Lauren Stivrins kill. The Huskers won the first set 25-22.
Nebraska got off to a similarly fast start in set #2, racing to take a 5-1 lead, but the Badgers refused to let the game get away from them. Wisconsin ultimately took a 21-20 lead after a kill by NCAA Player of the Year Dana Rettke. The Huskers had their first set point at 24-23, but a service error by Kubik tied the score at 24-24. The Badgers had a service error of their own on their next serve, giving the Huskers another opportunity to close. Ally Batenhorst had her shot blocked, which made tied the score again, 25-25. After a Jade Demps kill gave the Badgers a 26-25 lead, Kayla Caffey had a kill to tie the score up again. Caffey had 8 kills in the second set as the two teams combined for seven set points, but the Badgers took control after Rettke tied the game at 29 with a kill, then had back-to-back solo blocks to give Wisconsin the second set, 31-29.
It was a back-and-forth battle to start the third set, as both teams struggled with errors early. The Badgers started to take control midway through the set, as back-to-back kills by Rettke and Anna Smrek gave Wisconsin an 20-16 lead. Kills by Lauren Stivrins and Madi Kubik as well as a Wisconsin attack error helped the Huskers cut the lead to two, 21-19. The Badgers threatened to put the Huskers away at 23-20, but back-to-back kills by the freshmen Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause and attack error by Demps tied the score at 23. However, the Badgers would score the next two points to win the set, 25-23.
With their backs against the wall, the Huskers battled hard in the fourth set. They played Wisconsin to a draw, 10-10, to start the set. The two teams continued to go back-and-forth. The Huskers gained control with their defense, as back-to-back blocks by Krause and Kubik gave the Huskers a 21-17 lead. Kubik gave the Huskers a 23-19 lead with a kill. A service error by the Badgers made it set point for the Huskers. The Huskers won set #4, 25-23, after a Batenhorst kill.
The Badgers dominated in the fifth set, scoring seven straight points to start the set. The Huskers cut the score to 14-11, with a Kubik kill. On the next play, a Kubik shot was ruled out of play initially, but a challenge showed the ball actually hit a Badger player. The Badgers won the match on the next play after a furious rally. This is the first championship for Wisconsin.