Nebraska Wins 4th NCAA Title in Front of Record Crowd

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 19, 2015, 9:55 p.m. (ET)

OMAHA, Neb. (Dec. 19, 2015) – The University of Nebraska gave a record crowd (17,561) plenty to cheer about as it defeated the University of Texas 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 to win its fourth NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship title in front of a deafening and heavily local partisan audience on Saturday evening at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

Nebraska freshman Mikaela Foecke, who was named the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship most outstanding performer, scored a match-high 19 points with a .385 hitting efficiency to go with a block assist. Amber Rolfzen charted 10 kills and four block assists for 12 points on offense. Kelly Hunter set the Huskers to a .311 hitting efficiency on 42 assists and added two kills and three block assists.

Cecilia Hall added 8.5 points with seven kills on 10 attacks and three block assists. Kadie Rolfzen contributed four kills, a block solo and three block assists for 7.5 points to go with 10 digs. Kelsey Fien produced seven kills, including the championship match point. Justine Wong-Orantes tallied a team-best 17 digs in the victory.

Nebraska last won the NCAA title in 2006, also in the same venue. The Huskers previously won the title in 1995 and 2000. Texas, which has reached at least the title match twice in four years and semifinals in each of the last four years, was attempting to win its third NCAA title. The Longhorns, now 2-3 in the title match, won the title in 1988 and 2012.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Huskers defeating the Longhorns in the 1995 NCAA championship match for Nebraska’s first NCAA volleyball title.

Texas was led by Paulina Prieto Cerame with 12.5 points via 11 kills on 35 swings, one block solo and one block assist. Yasmeen Bedart-Ghani totaled 12 points with 11 kills on 20 attacks and two block assists. Amy Neal chipped in 10 kills and 10 digs for a double-double. Molly McCage added seven kills on 14 attacks and a block assist for 7.5 points. Chloe Collins set the Longhorns to a .215 hitting efficiency with 39 assists to go with 12 digs. Chiaka Ogbogu charted four kills, one block solo and two block assists. Cat McCoy led the Teas defense with 11 digs.

Nebraska out-blocked Texas 8-5 and held a 4-1 margin in aces. The Huskers’ offense generated a 49-43 edge in kills while the Longhorn defense mustered a 53-49 margin in digs.

Nebraska extended its win streak to 16 matches to end the season, while Texas had its win streak snapped at 12 in the final match of the season.

Joining Foecke on the all-tournament team were Amber Rolfzen, Justine Wong-Orants and Kelly Hunter from Nebraska. The Longhorns were represented by Yasmeen Bedart-Ghani and Amy Neal. Kelsie Payne of Kansas was also selected.

The Huskers won their fourth #NCAAvb title in front of a record NCAA Volleyball crowd of 17,561 fans on Satuurday.Match Recap | http://bit.ly/121915NEB(Photos: USAV/Bill Kauffman and Corinne Calabro)

Posted by USA Volleyball on Saturday, December 19, 2015

Texas led the opening set 10-8, but Nebraska scored three unanswered points to take an 11-10 advantage. After the Longhorns held the lead again at 13-12, Foecke scored consecutive kills after an Amber Rolfzen kill to put the Huskers back in front 15-13. Nebraska built a three-point cushion at 20-17 after a Foecke kill followed a Texas service error. Texas answered with a Neal kill and Nebraska attack error to force a Husker timeout with their lead trimmed to 21-20. Cerame knotted the score at 22-all with a kills. However, Nebraska scored the final two points with kill an Amber Rolfzen followed by a Cerame attack error on set point for a 25-23 victory.

Nebraska reached the second set media timeout leading 15-13 on a Neal ace after a Cerame attack error. Out of the break, Neal served a second straight ace to force the Longhorns into a timeout trailing 16-13. Texas quickly responded with kills by Ogbogu and Bedart-Ghani and tied the score at 16-all on a Nebraska error. The Huskers answered with a 4-1 scoring run with two kills from Fien and one each from Hunter and Foecke to establish a 20-17 advantage at a Texas timeout. Texas charged back with four consecutive points to take the lead 21-20 with two kills from Neal leading the charge followed by a Bedart-Ghani kill and bad set from the Huskers. Foecke took over late with two kills around her block assist with Amber Rolfzen to take a 24-22 advantage. The Huskers capped the second set at 25-23 with a Texas attack error.

Texas came out strong in the third set and took an 8-6 advantage. Nebraska steamed back into the lead with kills from Fien and Hunter around a Texas error for a 9-8 margin. The Longhorns were forced to call timeout down 11-9 as Hall and Fien hammered consecutive kills. Texas came back to regain the lead at 13-12 on three straight points with a Cerame kill followed by two Husker errors. However, Nebraska refocused with kills from Kadie and Amber Rolfzen followed by consecutive Texas errors to establish a 16-13 lead forcing the Longhorns to call timeout. The momentum swung back to the Texas side as it narrowed its gap to 17-16 with kills from Cerame, Ogbogu and Bedart-Ghani leading into a Husker timeout. Nebraska cooled Texas’ run with an Amber Rolfzen kill, Kadie Rolfzen ace and two Longhorn errors to go up 21-16. Neal and Bedart-Ghani trimmed the gap to 21-18 with consecutive kills, but it was all Huskers down the stretch. Amber and Kadie Rolfzen slammed kills to yield a 23-18 Nebraska lead, then Amber Rolfzen pounded a kill to put the Huskers at match point at 24-19. Texas saved two match points before Fien ended the match with a well-played kill at 25-21.

U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly served as the color commentary on the live ESPN2 broadcast. Team USA will host the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament Jan. 7-9 in Lincoln, Neb., where University of Nebraska is located. The winner of the four-team round robin earns a berth into the 2016 Olympic Games. The U.S. roster has three potential Huskers on the squad – Jordan Larson, Kelsey Robinson and Kayla Banwarth. Meanwhile, Texas has two potential alumni who could compete for Team USA – Rachael Adams and Lauren Paolini. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:

  • Texas was seeded No. 3 in the 64-team tournament and third in the final regular season AVCA poll. Nebraska was seeded No. 4 in the tournament and fifth in the AVCA poll.
  • Nebraska reached its seventh national championship match by defeating Kansas 3-1 in the semifinals on Thursday, while Texas topped Minnesota 3-1 in the other semifinal to advance to the title match for the fifth time.
  • The Huskers are no stranger to Omaha. The NCAA semifinals have been at the CenturyLink Center in 2006, 2008 and 2015, and Nebraska qualified all three times.
  • Texas has been a model of consistency having reached the NCAA semifinals seven times in eight years.
  • Nebraska entered the match with a 30-22 all-time record against Texas, but the Longhorns held a 2-1 records against the Huskers in NCAA Tournament matches. Nebraska defeated Texas 3-1
  • Earlier this year Texas defeated Nebraska 3-2 on Sept. 4.