LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska volleyball team punched its ticket to the Final Four on Saturday.
The Huskers swept Oregon (25-22, 25-23, 25-17) Saturday evening and will play Illinois at 8 p.m. (CT) on Thursday for a chance to go to the championship match, which will be played Saturday, at Target Center in Minneapolis. Both NCAA Semifinals and the NCAA Final will air on ESPN2.
No. 3 Illinois is led by former Husker assistant coach Chris Tamas.
Nebraska (28-6) won its 12th straight match, stopping a high-flying Oregon squad that had upset No. 2 Minnesota on the Golden Gophers' home court on Friday in the regional semifinal. The Huskers held the Ducks to a .250 hitting percentage, and offensively Nebraska hit .345 in the 25-22, 25-23, 25-17 win.
Mikaela Foecke, the regional's most outstanding player, had 16 kills and 13 digs, hitting .400. Lauren Stivrins had 11 kills and hit .526, and Nicklin Hames tallied 41 assists and 15 digs. All three were named to the all-regional team.
Lexi Sun tacked on 10 kills, while Jazz Sweet had five. Kenzie Maloney added 12 digs. Nebraska out-blocked Oregon, 5-2, and had a 53-47 edge in digs.
The win was Nebraska’s 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament win dating back to an NCAA Semifinal loss to Texas in 2016. The 10-match postseason win streak is tied for the longest NCAA Tournament winning streak in program history (NU also won 10 straight matches from 2000-01 and 2015-16). The Huskers will make their 15th NCAA Semifinals appearance all-time, second-most behind only Stanford.
It's the program-record fourth straight Final Four appearance for the Huskers, making Nebraska the sixth program in NCAA history to reach four consecutive final fours, joining Pacific, Penn State, Stanford, Texas and UCLA.
Nebraska improved to 28-6 overall and won its 12th straight match. The win was Nebraska’s 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament win dating back to an NCAA Semifinal loss to Texas in 2016. The 10-match postseason win streak is tied for the longest NCAA Tournament winning streak in program history (NU also won 10 straight matches from 2000-01 and 2015-16).
Nebraska advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the fourth straight year, a first in program history. Nebraska became the sixth program in NCAA history to reach at least four straight final fours, joining Stanford (1982-87, 1994-97), Pacific (1983-86), UCLA (1988-92), Penn State (2007-10) and Texas (2012-16). Only Penn State, Texas and Nebraska have accomplished the feat since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1998.
The Huskers will make their 15th NCAA Semifinals appearance all-time, second-most behind only Stanford (who has 21 entering Saturday’s regional final match against Penn State).
Nebraska’s all-time NCAA Tournament record is now 112-31. Its .783 winning percentage in the NCAA Tournament is second only to Stanford (.797 entering Saturday).
Nebraska improved to 15-13 all-time in NCAA Regional Finals.
John Cook is taking Nebraska to the NCAA Semifinals for the ninth time in his 19 seasons as head coach. Cook’s nine NCAA Semifinal appearances are tied for the sixth-most by any coach in NCAA history.
Cook is just the fifth coach in NCAA history to make nine NCAA Semifinal appearances at one school, joining Andy Banachowski (UCLA, retired), Russ Rose (Penn State), Don Shaw (Stanford, retired) and Dave Shoji (Hawaii, retired).
Cook improved to 71-14 in the NCAA Tournament at Nebraska and 79-18 overall in his NCAA Tournament career, including his time at Wisconsin.
Nebraska’s two seniors who have been with the program all four years – Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney – are 20-1 in their NCAA Tournament careers, and the duo is a combined 51-2 all-time in the months of November and December. Their 20 postseason victories are the most in a four-year span in Nebraska history.
Foecke and Maloney each played in their 21st NCAA Tournament match at Nebraska, tying for the most postseason matches played by any player in program history. The duo have also each played in 72 career NCAA Tournament sets, trailing only Annika Albrecht (75 sets) and Jordan Larson (73 sets) for most career postseason sets played in Nebraska history.
Freshman setter Nicklin Hames had her 23rd double-double of the season with 41 assists and 15 digs. That broke Jordan Larson’s school record for single-season double-doubles in the rally-scoring era.
Foecke had 16 kills, passing Lisa Reitsma (1,633) for third place on Nebraska’s all-time kills list with 1,638.
Foecke has 263 career kills in the NCAA Tournament, which moved her past Nancy Metcalf (Meendering) to No. 2 on Nebraska’s career postseason kills list.
Maloney has 1,369 career digs, which moved into the top five on Nebraska’s all-time digs list.
Nebraska's sweep of Oregon marked the fourth time the Huskers have made it to the NCAA Semifinal without losing a set (also happened in 1990, 2005 and 2016).