Lincoln - Top-ranked Texas proved worthy of its No. 1 seed on Saturday, as the Longhorns continued defense of their 2012 national title with a 3-0 sweep of No. 8 Nebraska in the NCAA Lincoln Regional final in front of 8,343 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
In winning its school-record 10th consecutive postseason match, Texas handed the Huskers a home sweep (25-19, 25-22, 25-23) for the first time ever in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, Nebraska was swept in Lincoln for the first time in 24 years, dating back to a loss to No. 1 Hawaii on Oct. 2, 1989. Texas also became the first No. 1 team to win in Lincoln since Penn State in 1999.
With the win, Texas advanced to the NCAA Semifinals next weekend in Seattle. The Longhorns (27-2) will take a nation-leading 23-match winning streak into Thursday's semifinal against 12th-seeded Wisconsin. Texas is appearing in the NCAA Semifinals for the ninth time in school history and for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Leading the way in the Longhorns' second regional final victory over Nebraska in five seasons was a strong block and an efficient night from All-Americans Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster. Eckerman had 14 kills, while Webster produced 12 kills and hit .500. Together, the duo combined for 26 kills and only three errors on 73 swings, while Eckerman added a double-double with a team-high 15 digs. Khat Bell and Chiaka Ogbogu added seven kills eac and Hannah Allison recorded 37 assists to help Texas hit .266 in the match.
Molly McCage led a big blocking effort for the Longhorns with eight stuffs, helping Texas out-block Nebraska 14-3. The block helped Texas to the sweep despite being out-killed and out-dug by the Huskers.
Nebraska finished its season with a 26-7 record. The Huskers were led by an outstanding performance from Big Ten Player of the Year Kelsey Robinson. In her final match, Robinson delivered a match-high 21 kills, while adding 12 digs to produce her 19th double-double of the season. Kadie Rolfzen added her 13th double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs. Justine Wong-Orantes produced a match-high 17 digs to lead NU to a 63-58 advantage in digs. Mary Pollmiller added a match-high 41 assists for the Huskers.
In set one, Texas jumped out to a 5-1 lead and never trailed. The Longhorns put down kills on three of their first five swings and blocked Nebraska twice to force an early Husker timeout. Texas stretched the lead to six with the first point out of the timeout, and the Huskers closed to within three on numerous occasions but Texas would let Nebraska get no closer. Consecutive Longhorn blocks fueled a 4-0 Texas run that pushed the lead to 21-14. Nebraska answered with three straight points to trim the lead to four but Texas called a timeout and quickly pushed the lead back to six before closing out a 25-19 victory on Ogbogu's fifth kill of the set. Eckerman had six kills on 17 error-free swings, as Texas hit .293 in the opening set. Nebraska was blocked five times and committed nine hitting errors in the set while hitting just .106.
Serving played a key role in the start of set two, as a pair of Texas serving errors and a Husker ace helped Nebraska to an early 5-2 advantage. The teams then traded sideouts until Texas used a pair of stuffs to win five straight rallies and take a 14-12 lead, forcing a Husker timeout. Nebraska quickly tied the set with the first two points out of the timeout before regaining the lead at 16-15 on Robinson's 10th kill of the match. The Huskers pushed the lead to 18-16 after winning a joust at the net to end a long rally, forcing Texas to spend a timeout. The Longhorns came out of the timeout on fire, winning four of the next five rallies to go back on top 20-19 and forcing a Husker timeout following back-to-back Texas blocks. UT pushed the lead to two at 22-20 and earned a 25-22 win on the Longhorns' 10th block of the match. Nebraska produced two more kills than Texas in the second set, but the Longhorns out-blocked the Huskers 5-1.
At the break, Texas had three players with at least five kills, including Eckerman and Weber, who combined for 20 kills with only one error. Nebraska was forced to rely on Robinson and Kadie Rolfzen in the opening two sets, as that duo combined for 25 of the Huskers' 30 kills on 65 of Nebraska's 98 swings. The rest of the NU roster combined for only five kills and six errors in 33 attacks.
The teams traded early leads in set three before Nebraska built a 10-7 advantage fueled by four kills on six swings from Melanie Keil off the bench. Nebraska coult not hold the lead however, as three Husker hitting errors in a span of five rallies helped Texas pull even at 11-11. Another Nebraska error out of a timeout gave the Longhorns a one-point advantage before a Texas error put Nebraska back on top, 13-12. The Huskers stretched the lead to two at 16-14, before consecutive Amy Neal aces put Texas back in front, 18-17. The Longhorns would never relinquish the lead and capitalized on a free ball to take a 24-22 lead on Webster's 12th kill of the match. Nebraska fought off one match point before NU's fifth service error of the match sealed the sweep. Nebraska out-hit Texas for the only time in the match in the third set, but the Huskers still committed seven attack errors, while the Longhorns never had more than four errors in any set.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
- Nebraska ended its season with a 26-7 record. The Huskers saw their season end in an NCAA Regional Final for the second straight year and for the third time in five seasons.
- Tonight marked Nebraska's 200th consecutive home sellout with an attendance of 8,343 fans. The streak is the longest in the history of NCAA women's athletics.
- The NCAA Lincoln Regional drew 16,640 total fans on Friday and Saturday.
- The Huskers dropped to 89-29 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska ranks second in NCAA history in postseason wins.
- Nebraska fell to 34-18 in NCAA Regional matches, including an 11-12 mark in 23 appearances in the NCAA Regional Finals.
- NU dropped to 67-8 in home matches during the NCAA Tournament, including a 9-2 record at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
- Nebraska was swept at home for the first time in 24 years dating back to a 3-0 loss to No. 1 Hawaii on Oct. 20, 1989.
- Overall, the Huskers were swept in Lincoln for just the fourth time since the NCAA switched to a best-of-five format beginning with the 1982 season. Tonight's sweep marked the first time Nebraska had ever been swept in Lincoln during NCAA Tournament play.
- The loss snapped Nebraska's three-match winning streak against top-ranked teams, as Texas became the first No. 1 team to win in Lincoln since Penn State in 1999.
- The Huskers ended the year with an 11-6 vs. ranked opponents.
- Nebraska fell to 30-20 all-time against Texas and has lost two straight matches to the Longhorns. NU fell to 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament against UT, with the lone victory coming in the 1995 NCAA Final.
- Kelsey Robinson ended her senior season with 530 kills. She produced the fifth-most kills by a Husker.
- Robinson also finished with 1,206 attacks this year, good for seventh on Nebraska's all-time chart.
- Justine Wong-Orantes produced a match-high 17 digs against Texas to finish with a team-high 399 digs in 2013. She tied Lara Dykstra's freshman record for digs, while her 399 digs rank in a tie for ninth on Nebraska's season record list.
- Kadie Rolfzen finished her freshman year with 377 kills to rank second on the NU freshman kills list.
Texas Post-Match Notes
- Texas improved to 27-2 with its 23rd straight win. The Longhorns' 23-match win streak ties Penn State, another NCAA Semifinalist, for the longest active streak in the country. Texas' 23-match winning streak also ties for the second-longest win streak in school history.
- Texas has won 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament matches dating back to last season's run to the national title. The 10 straight postseason wins are a school record.
- With the win, Texas advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the ninth time in school history and for the fifth time in the past six seasons (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013). With nine appearances, Texas moved into a tie for the fifth-most NCAA Semifinal appearances in NCAA history. USC could claim sole possession of fifth place on that list with a win over Washington in Saturday's last NCAA Regional Final match.
- The Longhorns won their 75th NCAA Tournament match in school history on Saturday, becoming just the fifth team in NCAA history to reach that mark. Overall, Texas improved to 75-27 all-time in 30 NCAA Tournament appearances.
- Playing in an NCAA Regional Final for the eighth straight year and for the 19th time in school history, Texas improved to 9-10 all-time in regional finals.
- With the win, Texas posted its second NCAA Regional Final victory over Nebraska in the past five seasons. The Longhorns improved to 20-30 all-time against the Huskers, while producing their sixth win over Nebraska in the last seven meetings.
- Texas became the first No. 1 team to win in Lincoln since Penn State in 1999. Top-ranked teams had lost three straight matches in Lincoln.
- Texas improved to 25-0 this season when totaling more blocks than its opponents. The Longhorns out-blocked the Huskers, 14-3.
- Texas has only trailed in sets twice in its 10-game postseason win streak.
- Haley Eckerman, the 2013 Big 12 Player of the Year, recorded 14 kills to produce double-figure kills in her 12th straight match.
- Eckerman also added 15 digs to produce her 10th double-double of the season, and her third in four NCAA Tournament matches.
- Senior Hannah Allison had 37 assists for the Longhorns, bringing her career total to 4,000. She is only the third Longhorns to total 4,000 career assists.
NCAA Lincoln Regional All-Tournament Team
Bailey Webster, Texas (MOP)
Lauren Eckerman, Texas
Khat Bell, Texas
Hannah Allison, Texas
Kelsey Robinson, Nebraska
Kadie Rolfzen, Nebraska
Chloe Ferrari, San Diego