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Huskers defeat Pittsburgh, advance to championship match

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 11:50 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2021 at 8:25 AM CST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Nebraska volleyball team will vie for its sixth NCAA title on Saturday after the 10th-seeded Huskers rallied to upend Pitt 3-1 (16-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22) in the NCAA Semifinal at Nationwide Arena that began on Thursday night and stretched into Friday morning.

Nebraska (26-7) will face Wisconsin (30-3) in an all-Big Ten National Championship match Saturday night. The Huskers will make their 10th championship final appearance in program history and their first since 2018. Television coverage Saturday begins with a 6:15 pregame show on ESPN2.

Madi Kubik was solid in all phases of the game to lead Nebraska in the semifinal. Kubik finished with a match-high 13 kills and added a career-high-tying three services aces to go along with seven digs and two blocks. Kubik posted her 24th match this season with at least 10 kills.

Kayla Caffey joined Kubik in double-digit kills with 10, and Caffey added four blocks.

Lindsay Krause had nine kills on 19 swings and Lauren Stivrins had nine kills on 17 swings with a match-high six blocks.

Ally Batenhorst added seven kills.

Nicklin Hames registered her 23rd double-double of the year with 45 assists and 13 digs, while Lexi Rodriguez (13) and Keonilei Akana (11) also had double-digit digs.

Nebraska hit .239 in the match, rebounding from a .167 attacking percentage in the first set. The Huskers held Pittsburgh to a .233 attack percentage, the Panthers’ lowest mark of the NCAA Tournament. Pitt hit .483 in winning the first set, but NU limited the Panthers to a .163 attack percentage over the final three sets. Nebraska also won the serve-and-pass battle with six aces against only six errors, while Pittsburgh had five aces and 12 errors. The Huskers also out-blocked the Panthers 10-7, but Pitt finished with more digs (56-50).Leketo Member-Meneh had 13 kills to pace Pitt, which finished its best season in school history with a 30-4 record.

Pitt (30-4) Jumped to a 5-1 lead and, after the Cornhuskers rallied to tie it a 7-all, the Panthers scored the first four points in an 8-1 run — including three kills by Chinaza Ndee.

Kubik had a kill and Stivrins added a block and a kill before the pair combined for a block to cap five straight Nebraska points to make it 16-9 and pull away in the second set for good.

A service ace by Rachel Fairbanks gave the Panthers an one-point lead in the third but Ally Batenhorst answered with a kill for the Cornhuskers, who then scored on five serves by Stivrins, including an ace, to make it 23-18.

After reaching the Elite Eight for the first time last season, the Panthers played in the program’s first semifinals.

Nebraska, which advanced to its 10th title game, is 13-0 all-time against Pitt — 4-0 in the NCAA tournament.

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