LINCOLN — With wins in the first two matches of the NCAA tournament, the Nebraska volleyball team took care of one piece of unfinished business in advancing to regional play in Omaha this weekend.
But the slate of teams joining the Huskers at the CenturyLink Center will ratchet up the degree of difficulty for Nebraska to move on to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. The Omaha Regional features four of the top 16 teams in the AVCA coaches poll.
No. 10 Nebraska, the tournament’s No. 4 overall seed, will face No. 5 Washington Friday, marking the fourth time in eight years the Huskers and Huskies will meet in the NCAA tournament. Washington advanced to the regional after a five-set win against Hawaii Saturday night in Seattle.
The Huskers have talked about their “unfinished business” rallying cry all season, and a date with Washington fits that criteria. The Huskies earned a four-set win against NU in the 2010 regional final in Seattle. The rivalry was fueled by a postgame confrontation between Nebraska coach John Cook and Washington coach Jim McLaughlin after a number of close calls went Washington’s way.
The history goes back even further. The Huskies swept the Huskers in the 2005 national championship in San Antonio, and Nebraska earned a measure of revenge by coming back from a two-set deficit to knock off host Washington in a 2008 regional final that is considered one of the most memorable matches in school history. The Huskers trailed 9-3 in the fifth set before scoring nine straight points en route to a 15-13 win in Game 5.
The other half of the Omaha Regional is no slouch either with No. 6 Oregon, the nation’s leader in kills per set, taking on No. 16 BYU, which boasts the nation’s top team attack percentage. Neither team dropped a set in its first two tournament matches.
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