Huskers Hold Off Utah; Advance to Sweet 16

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Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

Huskers Serve Up Win Over No. 20 Utah, Advance to Sweet 16

Lincoln – The 14th-seeded Nebraska volleyball team outlasted a tough Utah squad in a five-set thriller Saturday night at the Devaney Center to advance to an NCAA Regional for the 20th time in 21 seasons.

The Huskers won the opening two sets, only to see Utah rally to force a fifth set. Nebraska won the first four rallies of the fifth set and never trailed, improving to 20-1 all-time in second-round NCAA Tournament matches with a 25-23, 25-22, 23-25, 17-25, 15-11 victory over the 20th-ranked Utes.

With the win, Nebraska (23-9) advances to play either No. 3 Washington or Hawaii next Friday in the NCAA Seattle Regional. First serve for the NCAA Regional Semifinal will be announced at a later date, but the match will be televised on ESPN3. Utah ended its season with a 21-13 record.

The Huskers gave their all to punch their ticket to the next round. Nebraska was outscored in the match, 106-105, and Utah had more kills, digs and blocks than NU. The Utes hit .289 in the match, the third-highest mark Nebraska has allowed this season, while the Huskers hit .201.

The difference in the match proved to be the service line, as the Huskers had six aces and only three errors, while Utah had 11 errors and only two aces.

In a tight first set, strong serving from Justine Wong-Orantes was the difference in the Huskers’ 25-23 victory. Utah recorded six more kills (19) than the Huskers (13) and blocks were even at two apiece, but Nebraska scored on five of Wong-Orantes’ seven serves, including a pair of aces from the sophomore libero. Utah terminated four of its first five swings to jump out to a quick 4-1 lead. Wong-Orantes served up a pair of aces following the break as Nebraska used a 4-0 run to take its first lead of the match. The Huskers never trailed again, but the Utes pulled even on seven occasions, including at 23-23 before a service error and a Mary Pollmiller killed close out the set. While Nebraska had three aces and no service errors in the set, the Utes had three service errors and no aces.

Utah won seven of the first 10 rallies in set two, only to see the Huskers respond by winning seven of the next eight points to take a 10-8 lead. Nebraska’s lead grew to as many as four before the Utes used a 6-1 run to tie the set at 14. NU quickly regained the lead and stretched its advantage to four at 20-16. Utah would not go away, pulling to within one before the service game came back into effect. Trailing 23-22, Utah committed its sixth service error of the match to give the Huskers a set point, and Annika Albrecht followed the error with her second ace to close out Nebraska’s 25-22- win.

In set three, Nebraska won four of the first five rallies before Utah bounced back to take a 15-14 lead. The Utes then won five consecutive points to take a 20-14 lead. Nebraska won three straight points to pull within one at 24-23, and the Huskers had a chance to extend the set, but a Kadie Rolfzen attack landed just wide to give the Utes a 25-23 victory.

Utah controlled the fourth set, cruising to a 25-17 win. The Utes led by six after the first 20 rallies and Nebraska could get no closer than six the rest of the way. Nebraska committed 10 hitting errors in the set, as Utah recorded five blocks. Adora Anae added six kills in the fourth set for the Utes, more than half of the Huskers’ team total.

In the shortened fifth set, it was who Nebraska jumped out to the all-important early lead, winning the first four rallies. Nebraska maintained its four-point advantage at the switch, leading 8-4. Utah scored two consecutive points to pull within one, but the Huskers responded with three straight points to go on top, 12-8. Nebraska earned its first match point at 14-11 before a Pollmiller kill closed out the match.

Pollmiller was one of three players to post a double-double in the match, finishing with a match-high 45 assists and a season-high 10 kills. Kadie Rolfzen also had a double-double for Nebraska with 15 kills and 11 digs. Chelsey Schofield-Olsen ended her career on a strong note for the Utes, finishing with 12 kills and a career-high 21 digs.

Nebraska Post-Match Notes

  • Nebraska advanced to an NCAA Regional for the nation-leading 20th time in the last 21 seasons.
  • NU improved to 91-29 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
  • The Huskers improved to 20-1 all-time in second-round NCAA Tournament matches.
  • Nebraska improved 68-8 all-time in home NCAA Tournament matches, including a 10-2 record at the Devaney Center.
  • NU improved to 13-2 all-time in five-set NCAA Tournament matches, including an 8-1 record at home.
  • The Huskers moved to 2-0 against Utah in the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska also defeated the Utes, 3-1, in a 1998 NCAA Tournament second-round match at the NU Coliseum.
  • NU recorded fewer kills than its opponents for the fourth straight NCAA Tournament match, dating back to last year’s regional semifinal victory over San Diego.
  • Mary Pollmiller recorded her fourth double-double of the season and had a season-high 10 kills.
  • Kadie Rolfzen posted her team-leading 11th double-double of the season.
  • Kelsey Fien had a career-high 19 kills in the win. Her previous career high was 18 against Maryland on Nov. 16.
  • Annika Albrecht tied her career high with three aces.

Utah Post-Match Notes

  • Utah ended its season with a 21-12 record, winning posting a 20-win season for the second consecutive year.
  • The Utes fell to 12-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Utah lost a five-set NCAA Tournament match for the first time in school history, dropping to 3-1 in such matches.
  • Utah dropped to 0-2 against Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament. The Utes also lost a second-round match at Nebraska in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
  • Utah finished with 69 kills in the match, tying for the second-most kills in an NCAA Tournament match in program history. The Utes also had 69 kills against Nebraska in a four-set loss in the second-round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament at Nebraska.
  • Utah entered the match on a four-match winning streak, and the Utes had won eight of their last nine matches overall.
  • Prior to the loss, Utah had won two straight matches against ranked opponents and five of its last six matches vs. top-25 teams.
  • The Utes have lost 17 consecutive road matches to ranked opponents dating back to a 3-2 victory at No. 16 Oregon on Oct. 28, 2011.
  • Eleven of Utah’s 13 losses in 24 were on the road, including eight road losses to ranked opponents.
  • Chelsey Schofield-Olsen had a double-double with 12 kills and a career-high 21 digs.
  • Schofield-Olsen finished her career with 1,379 kills to rank third in school history.
  • Schofield-Olsen also finished with 1,286 career digs, a total that ranks fourth in Utah history.
  • Bailey Bateman had five blocks in the match, and she totaled 493 in her career to rank sixth in school history.
  • Kendgal Cygan finished with 22 assists in the match to end her career with 1,864 assists, the seventh-highest total in Ute history.
  • Adora Anae had a career-high 20 kills in the match.