2006 NCAA Champions
OMAHA – Sarah Pavan and Jordan Larson combined for 41 kills as No. 1 Nebraska (33-1) rallied to defeat No. 2 Stanford (30-4) 27-30, 30-26, 30-28, 30-27 for its third NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in front of a record-crowd of 17,209 fans at the Qwest Center Omaha Saturday evening.
Nebraska, competing in the finals for the sixth time, also captured NCAA women’s volleyball championships in 1995 and 2000 with Husker coach John Cook leading the team during the past two title seasons. Only Stanford has won more women’s volleyball titles with six. The Huskers are the first team since 1991 to win a national title as the host institution.
Stanford was playing in its 12th championship match in the 26-year history of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal finished second for the sixth team in NCAA Tournament history.
Pavan, who was named the AVCA National Player of the Year earlier in the week, was selected as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the all-tournament by Larson, Nebraska’s Tracy Stalls and Rachel Holloway. Stanford’s Kristen Richards, Foluke Akinradewo and Cynthia Barboza were also named to the all-tournament team.
The top two seeds in the NCAA Tournament met for only the second time in an NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship title match. In 2002, top-seeded USC defeated No. 2 Stanford in four games. The NCAA Selection Committee began seeding the 64-team tournament field in 2000.
The championship match attendance of 17,209 was an all-time collegiate volleyball record, surpassing Thursday’s semifinal attendance of 17,013. The all-session attendance at the Qwest Center was 34,222, a new NCAA Championship record.
Stanford overcame a 23-21 deficit in the opening game with five unanswered points, with three kills from Kristin Richards, en route to a 30-27 victory. Despite Nebraska going up 7-2 in the second game, the game became nip-and-tuck with six lead changes and eight ties.
The Huskers overcame a 22-21 deficit by scoring nine of the last 14 points as Stalls and Dani Mancuso each turned in two kills. Nebraska overcame a 26-22 deficit in the third game by outscoring Stanford 8-2 down the stretch as Holloway notched a kill and two blocks with Amanda Gates. Nebraska controlled most of the fourth game, but it was a 6-1 run after leading 18-17 that separated the Huskers from Stanford for a 30-27 victory.
Pavan netted a match-high 22 kills with a .378 attack percentage, 13 digs and three block assists in leading the Huskers. Larson, who had eight kills in nine previous games within the NCAA Championships (semifinals and finals) the past years, scored 19 kills on 45 swings for a .378 attack percentage. She added a double-double with 15 digs and three blocks.
Mancuso chipped in 12 kills for the Huskers, while Stalls added 10 kills and seven block assists. Holloway provided 58 assists, five blocks and two kills in leading the Husker offense. Dani Busboom provided a match-high 21 digs. Kori Cooper tallied two kills and a block solo, while Gates tallied three blocks and a kill.
Erin Waller paced Stanford with 18 kills on .394 hitting, while Akinradewo added 15 kills and eight blocks. Richards contributed 14 kills and 12 digs, while Barboza charted 12 kills and three blocks. Franci Girard provided 10 kills and four blocks in the loss, while Bryn Kehoe totaled 61 assists, three aces, 14 digs and three blocks.
Nebraska hit .240 for the match while limiting Stanford to a .197 attack percentage. The Huskers out-dug the Cardinal 70-63, while both teams totaled 13 team blocks. Nebraska held a 5-4 ace advantage, and both teams had eight service errors.
The Nebraska athletic department will host a championship celebration on Sunday, Dec. 17 at the NU Coliseum at 11 a.m. All seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, and parking for the event is free. Doors open at 10 a.m., while concessions and national championship apparrel will be available. For those fans not able to attend, the program will be available via a video web stream on Sunday evening free of charge on Huskers.com.