TAMPA, FL–(NU Athletics Dec. 17)–The Nebraska volleyball team’s quest for a sixth national championship came up short Sunday afternoon, as strong serving powered Texas to a 3-0 sweep in the NCAA Final at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Texas had 12 aces in the match, the most by a Husker opponent in the rally-scoring era, which dates back to 2001. Nebraska struggled to pass against the Longhorns, which resulted in the Huskers recording season lows in kills (20) and hitting percentage (.013). Texas hit .264 in the match and had a 38-20 advantage in kills.
The Huskers (33-2) finished as the NCAA runner-up for the sixth time in program history, while Texas (28-4) won its second straight national championship and fourth overall.
Harper Murray led the Huskers with seven kills on 23 swings. Bekka Allick added three kills on seven attempts and led Nebraska with a .286 attack percentage and four blocks. Andi Jackson added four kills and three blocks. Lexi Rodriguez and Bergen Reilly had six digs apiece, while Reilly added 17 assists.
Madisen Skinner led Texas with 16 kills on 33 swings, while Asjia O’Neal had five service aces.
Set 1: The Longhorns jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but an ace by Murray and kill by Batenhorst helped the Huskers climb back to tie the score at 6-6. Jackson produced a pair of kills, and a tip by Murray gave the Huskers their first lead at 10-9. Allick set Murray for another kill to make it 11-9, but Texas answered with a 3-0 run to go back up 12-11. The Longhorns separated from a 14-14 tie with a 3-0 run to take a 17-14 lead. Texas pushed the lead to four, 20-16, but Reilly placed a kill to the back corner and Texas committed an attacking error to make it 20-18. The Longhorns led 22-19 before a block by Allick and Murray. A red card was then assessed to the Texas bench to give Nebraska a free point, and Murray served an ace to tie the score at 22-22. But the Longhorns scored the final three points with a block, a kill and an ace to win 25-22.
Set 2: Nebraska went ahead 10-7 after a 6-1 run. Jackson had a kill and two blocks in that stretch to spark the Big Red. But Texas took control of the set with an 11-0 run – including four straight aces by O’Neal – to grab an 18-10 lead. The Longhorns went on to win the set, 25-14.
Set 3: Texas bolted to a 7-3 lead, but a kill by Jackson and a block by Jackson and Reilly cut it to 7-5. But the Longhorns increased their lead to 15-10 at the media timeout. After the break, the Longhorns pulled away with three kills and a block to make it 19-10. Texas finished out the match, 25-11.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
- Nebraska finished as the NCAA runner-up for the sixth time in program history. The Huskers have a 5-6 record in the national championship match.
- The Huskers lost to Texas in an NCAA Final for the first time. Nebraska had won the previous two national championship matches between the programs in 1995 and 2015.
- NU ended its season with a 33-2 record. The Huskers’ .943 winning percentage ranked fourth in school history and was the highest since the 2006 season.
- Nebraska fell to 130-37 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers rank second in NCAA history in postseason wins and winning percentage (.778).
- John Cook fell to 89-20 in the NCAA Tournament as Nebraska’s head coach. He dropped to 97-25 in his NCAA Tournament career. Cook ranks second all-time in career NCAA Tournament victories and NCAA Tournament wins at one school.
- Texas had 12 service aces in the match, the most by any Husker opponent in the rally-scoring era (since 2001) and the first time a Nebraska opponent has had more than 10 aces in the rally-scoring era.
- UT had seven aces in set two, which one shy of the most aces Nebraska had allowed in an entire match.
- Nebraska hit .013 in the match, the lowest mark of the season for the Huskers. The previous low was a .130 attack percentage in a win against No. 1 Wisconsin on Oct. 21.
- The Huskers’ 20 kills were a season low, nine fewer than Nebraska had against Omaha in the outdoor match at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 30.
- Merritt Beason finished with 455 kills this season. That total ranked ninth at Nebraska in the rally-scoring era (since 2001). Beason is just the sixth Husker to have 450 kills in a season during the rally-scoring era.
- Beason finished with 455 kills, 248 digs and 106 blocks. She is just the fourth Huskers in the rally-scoring era (since 2001) to have 400 kills, 200 digs and 100 blocks in a season and the first since Kadie Rolfzen in 2015.
- Andi Jackson finished with a .399 attack percentage in her freshman season. That is the highest mark by a freshman in school history, eclipsing the previous record of .388 by Karen Dahlgren in 1983.
- Jackson’s .399 attack percentage is the 10th-best all-time single-season mark at Nebraska and the seventh-best during the rally-scoring era (since 2001).