Photo by Pat Radigan
25-19, 25-11, 25-21
Albrecht – 13
Holman – 3.0
Townsend – 14
Story by Pat Radigan
Nebraska notches 9 aces to keep Colorado out-of-system
It was hard to keep track of how many Nebraska serves clipped the net cord, but the number of aces finished at 9 when Annika Albrecht ended the match from the service line in the Huskers’ sweep of Colorado.
Albrecht added 13 kills and 9 digs to that ace on match point, and four other Huskers finished with two aces each as Colorado struggled to keep up. A .452 hitting mark in the first set allowed Nebraska to survive CU’s strong start, before the NU block settled in and helped the Huskers cruise to an Elite Eight matchup against Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
The 13 kills by Albrecht was a match high, while Jazz Sweet added efficiency from the right pin thanks to 9 kills on 15 swings with just one error.
Sweet was also key in the NU block working its way into form. Nebraska had a pair of blocks early in the first set, including a double-stuff by Sweet and Briana Holman to make it 8-4. A Kelly Hunter solo stuff would be the only other block NU would manage in the first set, but the Huskers’ hitting was enough to take the early lead.
Nebraska added 3 more blocks in the second set, and held Colorado to just 7 kills in the game. As the hitting lanes closed, the Buffaloes committed 8 errors in the set to finish in negative hitting, and never quite recovered.
The combination of Sweet and Holman flexed NU’s domination at the net cord by combining for three more blocks in the third, including back-to-back blocks to cap a 3-0 run that gave Nebraska the lead for good. That spurt put the Huskers up 17-14, with Sydney Townsend able to serve a 4-0 run to give NU breathing room to slam the door on the sweep.
Albrecht’s ace on match point made her the fifth different Husker to ace the Buffs. Townsend was the only NU server who did not get an ace in the match. Instead, the senior posted a team-high 14 digs and added an assist to Albrecht on the final point of her late service run.
Kenzie Maloney, who is from nearby Louisville, Ky., was one of the servers with two aces. Both came as part of an 8-0 run early in the second set. Colorado went up 3-1, then Nebraska won 9 of the next 10 points. A Colorado kill plus a Nebraska error cut the lead to 10-6, but again the Huskers had an answer: Another 8-0 run.
Foecke was behind the second spurt, and carefully placed her second ace of the match to stretch the lead to 16-6. The junior finished with 7 kills and 7 digs in addition to a pair of block assists and the aces
Now, Nebraska will turn its attention to No. 4 Kentucky, and a Saturday afternoon matchup with the regional hosts. Kentucky fell behind 2-1 to No. 13 BYU on Friday, yet was able to pull off another five-set win to advance to the regional final. The Wildcats also had to rally from a 2-0 deficit against Western Kentucky in the round of 32.
Nebraska, on the other hand, comes into the match without dropping a set in NCAA play. How good have the Huskers been so far? The third set against Colorado was the first time Nebraska has allowed an opponent to score 20 points in the NCAA tournament.
The Huskers will need to keep that momentum flowing on Saturday, though, when NU will meet its first seeded opponent in the tournament in enemy territory. Despite playing on the road, Nebraska coach John Cook said he is excited to add some energy to the arena after a “flat” environment in Friday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup.