Nebraska volleyball swept its way past Pittsburgh to the national championship match on Thursday night and here are three takeaways.
For the 11th time in its history, the Nebraska volleyball team is headed back to the national championship match after a three-set sweep over the Pittsburgh Panthers by the scores of 25-20, 25-23 and 25-17.
The Panthers were in their third straight final four. Pittsburgh also had a trio of talented freshmen, just like the Huskers. But, Nebraska volleyball, which has lost just once this season, proved to be too much, and here are three takeaways from a massive win for the Huskers.
Defense rules the day
They say defense wins championships for a reason because it’s true. This Nebraska volleyball team is much better in terms of attacking than last season, but the defense has been a driving force all season.
Pittsburgh was the best-hitting team in the NCAA tournament coming into the Final Four. The Huskers had the best-hitting percentage defense and they won out on Thursday night, holding Pittsburgh to a 0.137 percentage. The Panthers also had 22 errors which were quite costly and the Nebraska block was a huge part of that.
Bekka Allick is a beast
Allick wasn’t the only Husker to dominate around the net. Merritt Beason was spectacular with eight kills and five blocks, as well as four aces. But for the second straight match, Allick has been an absolute beast on the block.
Bekka set a Nebraska postseason record with 12 blocks in the win over Arkansas in the Elite 8. She added 10 more on Thursday night as the Huskers wound up with 15 total compared to eight for Pitt. Allick also had four kills on seven swings and hit .571.
There’s no doubt that Nebraska has some of the most talented players in the country, but the X-factors matter in the NCAA tournament and Bekka Allick has been one so far.
Harper Murray delivers again
You can say that all the freshmen delivered for the Huskers on Thursday night. Bergen Reilly had 32 assists. Andi Jackson had five kills and hit .559, Laney Choboy just did what she always does — but Harper Murray — she was on another level.
Last season, the Huskers’ offense just couldn’t get the key points it needed to get past Oregon and some of the upper-echelon teams. Beason has helped fix that this season, but so has Harper Murray who delivered 13 kills and hit .231.
The Panthers had two hitters reach double-digit kills, but they both hit under .150. Murray was efficient and she had some incredible shots. She’s also a huge reason why the Huskers are playing for their sixth national championship on Sunday.
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