Jeff Sheldon takes a capsule look at the NCAA volleyball tournament teams playing in Lincoln.
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Conference: Big Ten
Records: 23-6, 15-5 (Tie-2nd) league, seeded No. 4, ranked No. 10
Coach: John Cook (13th season)
NCAA appearance: 31st
Big hitters: Gina Mancuso (3.43 kills per set), Hannah Werth (3.06 kps), Morgan Broekhuis (2.70 kps)
Top blockers: Hayley Thramer (1.20 blocks per set), Meghan Haggerty (1.00 bps)
Top diggers: Werth (3.22 digs per set), Lara Dykstra (3.02 dps), Lauren Cook (2.85 dps)
Setter: Cook (11.04 assists per set)
Honor roll: Mancuso is the team's leader in kills and a returning first-team All-American, but it's been Werth who has come on strong lately, averaging 4.5 kills per set in the team's three straight wins to end the regular season. Cook is one of the nation's top setters, and Haggerty emerged as one of the Big Ten's best freshmen. Balance is key as Nebraska is a team without a dominant attacker and will need multiple options playing well to reach the Final Four.
Fast fact: Nebraska joins Southern California as the only two teams in the country to earn two wins over top-ranked teams this season. The Huskers beat then-No. 1 UCLA on Aug. 25 and knocked off top-ranked Penn State on Oct. 28. Both matches went five games.
Conference: Mid-East Athletic
Records: 28-5, 11-1 (1st place) league, not seeded, not ranked
Coach: Don Metil (6th season)
NCAA appearance: second
Big hitters: Saitaua Iosia (4.32 kps), Maline Vaitai (2.77 kps), Victoria Williams (2.31 kps), Ndidi Ibe (2.28 kps)
Top blockers: Ibe (1.02 bps), Kavelinga Lea'aetoa (0.67 bps), Williams (0.66 bps)
Top diggers: Iosia (2.52 dps), Jingqiao Li (2.32 dps)
Setter: Jessica Vicic (10.83 aps)
Honor roll: Iosia, a 5-10 sophomore OH from Long Beach, Calif., was named the MEAC tournament's most outstanding performer for the second year in a row after she produced 60 kills, 32 digs and 10 service aces in three matches. In the championship match against Florida A&M, Iosia had 25 kills and 11 digs to send the Hawks to their second straight NCAA tournament.
Fast fact: The Hawks are a program on the rise, having set school records for wins in each of the last two seasons. Last year, UMES lost to eventual national champion UCLA in the first round in Los Angeles.
Conference: Big 12
Records: 21-8, 8-6 (5th place) league, not seeded, ranked No. 25
Coach: Suzie Fritz (12th season)
NCAA appearance: 14th
Big hitters: Kaitlynn Pelger (3.69 kps), Lilla Porubek (2.80 kps), Kathleen Ludwig (2.33 kps)
Top blockers: Alex Muff (1.41 bps), Pelger (0.94 bps)
Top diggers: Kuulei Kabalis (3.11 dps), Pelger (2.79 dps), Caitlyn Donahue (2.32 dps)
Setter: Donahue (11.73 aps)
Honor roll: Donahue and Pelger both earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and Muff was named honorable mention all-conference. Pelger's 3.69 kps were second in the Big 12, and the unanimous All-Big 12 pick was fifth in the league with a .326 hitting percentage. Muff was second in the Big 12 in blocks per set (1.41), and senior setter Donahue ranked second in the league in assists.
Fast fact: Many of the same names return for the Wildcats in 2012 from the team that upset the Huskers in the Coliseum in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament. Pelger had 22 kills, Porubek had 17, and Donahue had 65 set assists in KSU's five-game win a year ago. But the Wildcats limp into this year's tournament having lost five of their last six matches to end the regular season.
Conference: Missouri Valley
Records: 24-8, 15-3 (2nd place) league, not seeded, not ranked
Coach: Bobbie Petersen (13th season)
NCAA appearance: 18th
Big hitters: Megan Lehman (3.19 kps), Krista DeGeest (2.75 kps), Amy Braun (2.70 kps)
Top blockers: Shelby Kintzel (1.09 bps), DeGeest (0.98 bps)
Top diggers: Candice Burke (5.09 dps), Braun (3.81 dps)
The setter: Molly Turk (11.64 aps)
Honor roll: DeGeest, Lehman and junior outside hitter Macy Ubben were all named first-team All-MVC, with Braun picking up second-team honors. For DeGeest, a senior middle blocker, it marked the third straight year she's been named to the All-MVC first team. She is tied for second on the Panthers in kills and blocks, and her .333 hitting percentage is fourth in the league.
Fast fact: Finishing second behind Creighton in the Missouri Valley must feel like a step back for the Panthers, who had won 65 straight matches against MVC opponents before losing to the Bluejays 3-1 in Omaha on Oct. 5. Northern Iowa also dropped a five-setter to Creighton at home on Nov. 3. It was the first time the Panthers have ever been swept in a season series with the Bluejays and marked UNI's first home loss in MVC play since 2008.