COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Nebraska volleyball team’s 2016 season came to an end Thursday night, as fourth-seeded Texas earned a 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-21) victory in the NCAA Semifinals before 16,670 fans at Nationwide Arena.
The Huskers finished the season with a 31-3 record for the program’s highest winning percentage (.912) since 2008. Texas (27-4) advanced to face Stanford in the NCAA Championship at 8 p.m. (CT) on Saturday night.
Texas led for most of the first and third sets in its 25-18 and 25-21 wins. The Longhorns pulled away from a 20-20 tie in set two for the deuce win, 25-23.
Mikaela Foecke led the Huskers with 13 kills, while Briana Holman had nine kills. Nebraska couldn’t get on track offensively, hitting .182, its second-lowest mark of the season. Texas had the edge at the net with a 10-4 blocks advantage, and the Longhorns hit .321, becoming the only team to hit over .300 against the Huskers this season.
Ebony Nwanebu had 15 kills on .378 hitting for the Longhorns. Paulina Prieto Cerame had 12 kills.
Set 1: Texas jumped out to a 7-4 lead despite just one kill, as the Huskers committed four attacking errors, two of which were Texas blocks. A kill by Holman, followed by a Texas hitting error and a Foecke kill knotted the score at 9-9. Texas regained a 14-10 lead with a 4-0 run before serving long. Kadie Rolfzen terminated from the right side to cut it to 15-12, but Texas won a challenge review that reversed a 15-13 score to 16-12 after the Huskers were ruled to have touched an attack by White. Foecke pulled the Huskers within 17-15 with a kill and block, but the Horns answered with two straight blocks to go up 19-15. Texas had an answer for every Husker kill, taking a 23-18 lead on an ace by Nwanebu. The Longhorns won 25-18, ending the set on a 4-0 run. Texas outhit Nebraska .323 to .108 in the set.
Set 2: The Huskers grabbed a 3-0 lead before the Longhorns scored three straight to tie it. Malloy pounded three kills to boost the Huskers to a 7-6 lead. Kadie Rolfzen and Holman each gave Nebraska two-point cushions, but Texas sided out both times. The Longhorns went ahead 13-12 after a net violation by the Big Red, and Texas took a 16-14 lead following a Husker hitting error. A block by Holman and Hunter pulled the Huskers level again at 16-16, but the teams sided out to a 20-20 tie after a tip kill by Kadie Rolfzen ended a long rally. The Longhorns got a block from White and Morgan Johnson to take a 22-20 lead. Kadie Rolfzen then powered down a kill, but the Horns went up 23-21 to force Nebraska’s final timeout of the set. The Longhorns gained set point at 24-22 and eventually won 25-23 on a kill by Prieto Cerame.
Set 3: The Huskers were 2-0 this season when dropping the first two sets (at Michigan State and vs. Penn State), so optimism remained. But Texas got a leg up on NU with a pair of blocks to build a 6-2 lead. Texas led 11-7 before kills by Foecke and Hunter sliced the lead in half. After Texas went up by four again, the Huskers used back-to-back stuff blocks – one by Holman and Hunter and one by the Rolfzen twins – to pull within 15-13. Kills by Amber Rolfzen and Malloy had the Huskers within 16-15 and forced a Texas timeout. Prieto Cerame and Nwanebu produced kills for the Longhorns after the timeout, and a communication error on the next Husker attack gave Texas a 19-15 lead. Malloy tallied a kill after a timeout, and Foecke put a kill right on the line before a Texas hitting error trimmed its lead to 19-18. But White swung Texas back to a 21-18 lead. Amber Rolfzen’s kill on the slide made it 21-19, but a tip by Nwanebu and block by White and Johnson put the Horns up 23-19. Foecke kept the Huskers’ hopes alive with a kill, but the Longhorns took match point at 24-20 and won the match on the next rally on Johnson's fourth kill of the match.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
- With the loss, Nebraska ended its season with a 31-3 record. The Huskers’ .912 winning percentage ranked as the program’s highest winning percentage since 2008.
- Nebraska fell to 7-6 all-time in NCAA Semifinal matches, including a 4-3 record under John Cook.
- The loss snapped Nebraska’s 10-match winning streak in the NCAA Tournament. The 10-match win streak tied the longest postseason win streak in program history.
- John Cook fell to 61-14 in NCAA Tournament play as Nebraska’s head coach.
- Nebraska’s trio of four-year seniors (Amber Rolfzen, Kadie Rolfzen and Justine Wong-Orantes) finished their careers with a 16-3 record in the NCAA Tournament. The 16 postseason wins are the third-most by a senior class in Husker history.
- The Huskers ended the season with a 15-3 record against ranked opponents, including a 5-2 record vs. top-10 foes and a 3-2 mark against top-five opponents.
- The loss snapped Nebraska’s two-match winning streak vs. Texas. The Huskers fell to 32-23 all-time vs. the Longhorns, including a 2-3 record in NCAA Tournament play. The loss was Nebraska’s first to Texas in three all-time meetings in the NCAA Semifinals/Finals.
- Nebraska was swept in a match for the first time since the 2014 NCAA Regional Final vs. BYU.
- Despite recording just one kill, Texas jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the first set, marking the first time in five NCAA Tournament matches that Nebraska had trailed by more than two points.
- The Huskers lost the first two sets, falling in an 0-2 hole for just the third time this season. Nebraska had won the previous two matches it trailed 2-0 (at Michigan State on Sept. 24 and vs. Penn State in the NCAA Regional Semifinal).
- Texas had 10.0 blocks to Nebraska’s 4.0, as the Huskers were out-blocked for only the fifth time in 2016. NU lost the blocking battle by more than 2.5 for the only time in 2016.
- Texas hit .321 in the match, the highest total by a Husker opponent in 2016. The Longhorns were the only team to hit above .260 against Nebraska.
- The Huskers hit just .182 in the match, their second-lowest total of the season.
- Nebraska was held below a .200 attack percentage for just the fourth time this season. The Huskers hit below .200 in all three of their losses in 2016.
- Sophomore outside hitter Mikaela Foecke had 13 kills vs. Texas, her 15th match this season in double figure kills.
- In three career matches at the NCAA Semifinals/Finals, Foecke has totaled 44 kills on .312 hitting, including 32 kills on .362 hitting in two matches vs. Texas.
- Senior middle blocker Amber Rolfzen had one block assist in the match to become the fifth Husker with 500 career block assists.
- Amber Rolfzen had one total blocks vs. Texas. She totaled 74 career blocks in the NCAA Tournament, the fifth-highest total in Nebraska history.
- Amber Rolfzen ended her career with 551 career blocks, the sixth-highest total in Nebraska history and 500 block assists, the fifth-highest total in school history.
- Senior outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen had six kills in the match. She totaled 220 kills in her NCAA Tournament career, the fifth-highest total in Husker history.
- Kadie Rolfzen produced 220 kills and 220 digs in 18 career NCAA Tournament matches, ranking in the top five in school history in both categories. Rolfzen joined three-time All-American and two-time Olympic medalist Jordan Larson as the only Huskers with 200 kills and 200 digs in the NCAA Tournament.
- Kadie Rolfzen ended her career with 1,564 career kills and 1,255 career digs. She ranks sixth all-time at Nebraska in kills and seventh in digs.
- Senior libero Wong-Orantes had 11 digs in the match to end her career as Nebraska’s all-time digs leader with 1,890 digs. Wong-Orantes also ended her career with 296 digs in the NCAA Tournament, the most in school history.
- As a senior, Wong-Orantes totaled 482 digs, the fifth-highest total in school history.