Nebraska Wins Fourth National Title
Omaha, Neb. - The Nebraska volleyball team won its fourth national title Saturday night, sweeping the Texas Longhorns at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. Kelsey Fien’s 22nd swing of the night tooled the Texas block and set off a raucous celebration in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 17,561 inside the CenturyLink Center, most of whom were wearing red.
The Huskers won their first national title since taking the crown in 2006, when Omaha hosted the NCAA Championships for the first time. Nebraska head coach John Cook won his third national title since taking over for the legendary Terry Pettit in 2000.
Nebraska ended its championship season with a 16-match winning streak to finish the year with a 32-4 record. The Huskers had to work for their fourth national title on Saturday, 20 years after topping Texas, 3-1, for their first NCAA Championship in 1995. The first set was tied at 23 before Nebraska won the final two rallies to earn a 25-23 win. In set two, Nebraska led 24-23 before winning the final rally. The Huskers took set three by a 25-21 margin, winning the title on their third match point.
Freshman Mikaela Foecke, the tournament’s Most Oustanding Player, had a match-high 19 kills for the Huskers and hit .385. Junior Amber Rolfzen added 10 kills on 16 error-free swings, while also contributing four blocks. Nebraska hit .311 on the match while limiting Texas to a .215 attack percentage. Sophomore setter Kelly Hunter dished out 42 assists, while junior libero Justine Wong-Orantes tallied a match-high 17 digs.
Yasmeen Bedart-Ghani and Paulina Cerame had 11 kills apiece to pace the Longhorns, who finished their season with a 30-3 record.
Set one: Texas maintained an early edge and went up 7-5 on a service ace by Collins. But a kill by Fien and Hall on the slide tied it up 7-7. Ogbogu regained the lead for Texas by killing an overpass, and she then combined with Bedart-Ghani on a block to make it 9-7 Texas. But the Huskers came back to tie it 10-10 on a Kadie Rolfzen and Hall block. Foecke gave the Huskers their first lead of the set, 11-10, with a smash off the block on the left side. Texas went back in front, 12-11, after a timeout. But Foecke and Amber Rolfzen swung Nebraska back into the lead, as Foecke's fifth kill made it 15-13 Huskers. Another Fien kill gave Nebraska an 18-16 edge, and Foecke put the Huskers up by three, 20-17, forcing Texas' second timeout. Texas pulled within one, 21-20, but served wide after a Husker timeout. The Longhorns tied it, 22-22, on a Prieto Cerame kill, but Foecke connected again on the next rally for a 23-22 lead. Prieto Cerame answered, but Amber Rolfzen gave set point to the Huskers with a kill on the right side. A Hall and Hunter stuff gave NU set one, 25-23. The Huskers outhit Texas .310 to .220, with Foecke leading the way with eight kills on 12 swings (.667).
Set two: The teams continued to be neck and neck to start off the second set. The Huskers held a 9-7 lead but Texas quickly tied it 9-9 on a kill by Neal and Husker hitting error. The Longhorns claimed an 11-10 lead via a McCage kill, but back-to-back Foecke kills made it 12-11. After Texas tied it 13-13, Amber Rolfzen and Hunter posted up for a block to make it 14-13. Sydney Townsend served an ace to make it 15-13 at the media timeout. Townsend then served up another ace to increase the lead to 16-13, forcing a Texas timeout. The Longhorns came back with three straight to tie it 16-16. After a Husker timeout, a dump kill by Hunter and kill by Fien gave the Huskers an 18-16 lead. Fien then hammered down an overpass and Foecke tacked on her 13th kill, making it 20-17. But Texas gained momentum with a 4-0 run to go up 21-20, with a pair of kills by Neal and one by Bedart-Ghani. The talented freshmen (Foecke and Bedart-Ghani) traded kills before Foecke smacked another, tying it 22-22. Foecke and Amber Rolfzen added a block to make it 23-22 and Foecke continued her onslaught with another kill for set point. The Huskers served long, but then Prieto Cerame hit long as Nebraska went up 2-0 with a 25-23 win.
Set three: Texas opened with a 3-0 lead before a Kadie Rolfzen solo stuff got the Huskers on the board. A service ace by Albrecht cut it to 3-2. A block by Amber and Kadie Rolfzen brought the Huskers to a 4-4 tie. A net violation and two-hit call on the Huskers put Texas back up 7-5. Kills by Fien around a Texas hitting error gave Nebraska an 8-7 lead, which they pushed to 11-9 on another Fien kill, made possible by the strong passing of Kenzie Maloney and Wong-Orantes. Texas rallied to go up 13-12 with a 3-0 run, but Kadie Rolfzen connected on a kill from the right side, knotting the score 13-13. Kadie Rolfzen then won a huge point for the Huskers on a long rally to make it 14-13, as the Huskers’ defense put on a show and ignited the crowd. The lead went to 16-13 after Texas hit long and wide on consecutive rallies. After a Texas timeout, Kadie Rolfzen’s solo stuff made it 17-13. The Longhorns cut it to 17-16 with three straight kills before NU called timeout. A Kadie Rolfzen tip kill made it 18-16, setting off a 4-0 run. After Texas hit wide, Rolfzen then added an ace to restore the four-point lead, 20-16. The Longhorns hit wide again to make it 21-16. Amber Rolfzen’s kill made it 22-18, another kill by Kadie Rolfzen increased the lead to 23-18. Amber Rolfzen gave the Huskers match point, 24-19, with a kill on the slide. The Huskers won it all, 25-21, on a kill by Fien.
2015 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team
- Mikaela Foecke, Nebraska (Most Outstanding Player)
- Kelly Hunter, Nebraska
- Amber Rolfzen, Nebraska
- Justine Wong-Orantes, Nebraska
- Kelsie Payne, Kansas
- Yasmeen Bedart-Ghani, Texas
- Amy Neal, Texas