MADISON, Wis. –(NU Athletics)– The Nebraska volleyball team’s season came to an end in the NCAA Regional Final against Wisconsin on Saturday evening at the Wisconsin Field House in front of a crowd of 7,052. The fifth-seeded Huskers were swept by the fourth-seeded Badgers, 25-18, 25-22, 25-19.
Nebraska finished the season 28-5 overall, reaching an NCAA Regional Final for the eighth straight season. No other program in the nation has an Elite Eight streak spanning the last eight years. Three of the Huskers’ five losses came at the hands of the Big Ten champion Badgers, who advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time since 2013.
Unlike the first two matches this season, the Huskers did a much better job slowing down the Badgers’ high-powered attack, limiting Wisconsin to a season-low .192 hitting percentage. However, the Huskers could not get on track offensively either, hitting a season-low .062 for the match. The Badgers also had four more aces (5-1) and seven more blocks (11-4).
Jazz Sweet continued her strong play in the NCAA Tournament, pacing the Huskers with 11 kills. Lexi Sun added 11 kills and 11 digs for her 10th double-double of the season, and Madi Kubik added seven kills and 11 digs. Sweet and Sun were named to the All-Regional Team.
Nicklin Hames had 26 assists to go with seven digs, and libero Kenzie Knuckles had a match-high 22 digs, just two shy of the school record for digs in a three-set NCAA Tournament match.
Molly Haggerty led the Badgers (26-6) with 14 kills. Grace Loberg added nine kills, while Dana Rettke had seven kills and eight blocks. Tiffany Clark led Wisconsin with 17 digs, and Sydney Hilley had 31 assists.
Set 1: Sweet had a pair of kills and Wisconsin hit long on back-to-back shots to put Nebraska up 5-3 early. Wisconsin then went on an 8-1 run to take an 11-6 lead. The lead went to six at 13-7, but the Huskers chipped away to within two, 14-12, after kills by Sweet and Sun. Wisconsin came back with two kills by Haggerty to go up 16-12, and Nebraska called timeout after the UW lead went back to five, 19-14. Wisconsin’s fifth ace of the set earned it set point at 24-16, and the Badgers won 25-18 to take the early advantage in the match.
Set 2: Kubik served Nebraska’s first ace against Wisconsin in three matches this season, and Sun posted a kill to put NU on top, 8-6. Schwarzenbach and Sun tallied back-to-back kills to make it 10-7, but the Badgers answered to tie it up at 10-10. Sweet recorded her eighth kill and ninth kills and teamed up with Stivrins for back-to-back blocks to make it 15-11 Big Red. Wisconsin scored three points in a row to get within 16-15, and the Badgers tied it 17-17 on a cross-court kill by Haggerty. The Badgers claimed a 20-19 advantage after a block for their first lead of the set. But the Huskers turned to Sweet for back-to-back kills to reclaim a 21-20 lead. An NU service error tied the set again, and a Husker hitting error put Wisconsin back in the lead, 22-21. Kubik terminated for the Big Red to tie it at 22-22, but the Huskers then committed three straight hitting errors, as the Badgers won 25-22.
Set 3: Wisconsin was the first team to take a two-point advantage after a kill by Hilley and an attack error by the Huskers made it 12-10 Badgers. Wisconsin led 14-11 before a service error and kill by Kubik cut it to 14-13. The Badgers maintained an 18-15 lead, but Sun posted back-to-back kills, and Anezka Szabo and Schwarzenbach stuffed a Haggerty attack to tie the score at 18-18. Wisconsin answered with a kill by Haggerty and went back up 20-18. After an UW attacking error made it 20-19, Wisconsin scored the final five points of the match to win 25-19.