VB NCAA Rd 5 vs Pitt- DG209VB NCAA Rd 5 vs Pitt- DG209

Huskers Face Longhorns for National Championship

• The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team will play No. 5 Texas in the NCAA Championship on Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. 
• Sunday’s match will be televised on ABC and streamed on WatchESPN. Courtney Lyle, Holly McPeak and Katie George will be on the call. 
• The Huskers Radio Network will broadcast all the action on their radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and on the Huskers app. 
• John Baylor is in his 30th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-American setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.

• Nebraska (33-1) is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history. The other years were 2000 (NCAA Champion), 2004 (NCAA Regional Finalist), 2005 (NCAA Runner-Up), 2006 (NCAA Champion) and 2016 (NCAA Semifinalist).
• The Huskers won the outright Big Ten title this season with a 19-1 league record, earning their first Big Ten title since 2017. Nebraska has now won four Big Ten titles since joining the conference in 2011. The years were 2011, 2016, 2017 (co-champions) and 2023. All-time, Nebraska volleyball has won 35 conference titles. John Cook has been head coach for 13 of them. 
• Nebraska’s 33 wins are the most by a Nebraska team since the 2006 team won 33 matches (33-1).
• Nebraska won 27 matches in a row to begin the season and finished 28-1, its best regular-season record since going 28-1 in 2005. 
• The Huskers, who led the nation in defense in 2022, have held their opponents this season to a combined .135 hitting percentage, which ranks first nationally. 
• Nebraska has been sharp offensively this season, hitting .278 to rank 18th nationally. The Huskers rank 12th nationally with 14.03 kills per set.  
• Nebraska had four All-Big Ten First Team selections and two All-Big Ten Second Team selections for a total of six all-conference players this season, the most in program history.
• The Huskers had six AVCA All-Region honorees, tied for the most in program history. 
• Bekka Allick has back-to-back matches with double-digit blocks (12 vs. Arkansas and 10 vs. Pitt). She is the first Husker to have consecutive games with 10 or more blocks since Cecilia Hall against Illinois (11) and Northwestern (10) in 2013.
• Allick is the only player to have two matches with double-digit blocks in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Merritt Beason has 452 kills in her first season as a Husker. She is just the sixth Husker to total 450 kills in a season during the rally-scoring era (2001-present). The other members of that group are Sarah Pavan, Kelsey Robinson, Mikaela Foecke, Jordan Larson and Nancy Metcalf (Meendering). 
• Beason has 452 kills, 244 digs and 104 blocks this season. She is the first Husker to have 400 kills, 200 digs and 100 blocks in a season since Kadie Rolfzen in 2015. The only other Husker to reach each of those milestones during any season in the rally-scoring era (2001-present) were Christina Houghtelling in 2005 and Nancy Metcalf (Meendering) in 2001.
Andi Jackson is hitting .405 this season, as she attempts to become the first freshman in program history to hit .400. The current record for freshman hitting percentage is .388 by Karen Dahlgren in 1983. 

• Nebraska is making its 11th appearance in an NCAA Final. The Huskers’ 11 NCAA Finals rank second in NCAA history behind Stanford (17).
• Nebraska and Texas will play for the national title for the third time. The only more common finals matchup in NCAA history is Stanford vs. Penn State (four national championship matches).
• The Huskers have won the first two national championship matches between the programs, defeating Texas 3-1 in 1995 and 3-0 in 2015.
• Sunday will mark the eighth time in the past nine seasons that either Nebraska or Texas (or both) are playing in the NCAA Final. Since 2015, the only NCAA Final to not feature either Nebraska or Texas was the 2019 national championship match between Stanford and Wisconsin.
• Nebraska is 3-4 against Texas in the NCAA Tournament with two wins coming in national championship matches. The Huskers’ four losses to the Longhorns are their most against any opponent in the NCAA Tournament.
• NU and Texas are meeting in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in the last 11 seasons.
• Texas has won 11 consecutive NCAA Tournament matches. Their last loss in the postseason was a 3-1 home loss to Nebraska in the 2021 Austin Regional Final.
• Three current Huskers played in that match as freshmen with Ally Batenhorst having 15 kills on 32 swings (.406), Lindsay Krause recording 13 kills on 22 swings (.500) and Lexi Rodriguez recording 20 digs.
• According to ESPN, Nebraska is looking to become just the second team in NCAA Division I history to win a national championship without a single senior on its roster. In 1986, Pacific won the national title with no seniors on its roster.
Bergen Reilly is looking to become just the fourth freshman setter to lead her team to a national championship. Bryn Keho set Stanford to a national title as a true freshman in 2004 as did Jenna Gray for the Cardinal in 2016. In addition to the two Stanford setters, Nebraska’s Rachel Holloway set the Huskers to a national championship in 2006, when she was a redshirt freshman.
John Cook is coaching in his eighth NCAA Final at Nebraska.

Merritt Beason, a junior opposite hitter who transfered to NU from Florida, was named a first-team AVCA All-American and the AVCA Region Player of the Year, as well as All-Big Ten First Team and All-Region Team. Beason has stepped in as a team captain and is contributing a team-leading 3.83 kills per set this season with 2.07 digs per set and a .287 hitting percentage. A native of Gardendale, Ala., Beason earned four Big Ten Player of the Week honors this season and was the AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 24 following 21 kills in a 3-2 win over then-No. 1 Wisconsin. Beason had a career-high 27 kills on .426 hitting in a 3-2 reverse sweep at then-No. 16 Penn State on Nov. 3. As a sophomore at Florida in 2022, Beason was an All-SEC and AVCA All-Region selection.
• Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez was named a first-team AVCA All-American and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career, becoming the fifth player in Big Ten history to receive that honor twice in a career. She also earned AVCA All-Region and All-Big Ten First Team honors for the third time. Rodriguez, who averages 3.64 digs and 1.26 assists per set, leads a Husker defense that ranks first nationally in opponent hitting percentage. The junior from Sterling, Ill., was twice named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week this season despite opponents frequently tailoring their game plans to avoid Rodriguez on the court. Rodriguez was a first-team AVCA All-American in 2021 and a second-team AVCA All-American in 2022. 
• Freshman outside hitter Harper Murray was voted the AVCA Region Freshman of the Year and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, making her the second ever Husker (Madi Kubik, 2019) to earn that distinction. Murray also earned third-team All-America honors, All-Big Ten First Team and unanimous All-Freshman Team accolades. Murray ranks second on the Huskers in kills with 3.25 per set and adds 2.08 digs per set with a team-high 34 service aces. Murray was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times this season.
• Freshman setter Bergen Reilly was chosen Big Ten Setter of the Year, becoming the first ever freshman to earn the award since it originated in 2012. She also earned second-team AVCA All-America, All-Big Ten First Team, All-Freshman Team, and AVCA All-Region Team accolades. Reilly, just the second true freshman setter to be the starter at Nebraska under head coach John Cook, is putting up 10.64 assists and 2.65 digs per set and has 15 double-doubles this season. The Sioux Falls, S.D., native ranks 17th nationally in assists per set. Reilly was named Big Ten Setter of the Week four times this year and Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. She paces a Husker offense that ranks in the top 20 nationally in hitting percentage (.278) and kills per set (14.03). 
• Bekka Allick, a sophomore middle blocker from Lincoln, Neb., has been Nebraska’s top defensive presence at the net with a team-best 1.51 blocks per set this season, which ranks seventh in the nation. Offensively, Allick adds 1.78 kills per set on .330 hitting. Allick had a career-high 12 blocks in the NCAA regional final win over Arkansas, the most by a Husker in an NCAA Tournament match during the rally-scoring era. Allick received AVCA All-Region and All-Big Ten Second Team honors for the second year in a row. 
Andi Jackson, a freshman middle blocker from Brighton, Colo., averages 2.03 kills per set and 1.10 blocks per set and has a team-high .405 hitting percentage, which ranks 16th nationally. Jackson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in November and has hit .500 or better in 14 matches this season. She was selected to the AVCA All-Region Team, All-Big Ten Second Team and Big Ten All-Freshman Team.  

• Texas (27-4) is the defending national champion and beat No. 3 Wisconsin 3-1 in Thursday’s NCAA Semifinal to advance to the championship match. 
• Madisen Skinner leads the Longhorns with 4.78 kills per set and has served 44 aces. Skinner was the Big 12 Player of the Year. 
• Asjia O’Neal adds 1.93 kills and 1.59 blocks per set and is hitting .404 this season. Both O’Neal and Skinner were AVCA First-Team All-Americans. 
• Texas is hitting .282 and holding its opponents to .186. 

• Nebraska is 33-24 all-time against Texas. The last time the teams played was Dec. 11, 2021 in the Austin Regional Final. The Huskers upset the Longhorns 3-1 on their way to the NCAA Championship match. 

• Nebraska is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week.
• Nebraska has been ranked No. 1 in 108 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history. 
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 557 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 618 AVCA Coaches Polls it has been eligible for since it was established in 1982. Nebraska is the only program to be ranked in every eligible poll all-time.
• Nebraska’s 618 consecutive weeks of being ranked is the longest active streak in Division I for any sport, leading Connecticut women’s basketball and North Carolina women’s soccer.

• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 24th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2023. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, 11 final fours, 13 conference championships and 21 top-10 final rankings since 2000. 
• Cook has 850 career wins and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history. Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .874 win percentage (689-99). 
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 68 AVCA All-Americans and 20 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a three-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000, 2005 and 2023, and an eight-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2023.
• Cook was voted AVCA National Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading a young Nebraska team with no seniors to its first Big Ten title since 2017. The Huskers finished the regular season 28-1 overall, their best regular season record since going 28-1 in 2005. After going 26-6 last year and missing the NCAA Regional Finals for the first time since 2011, the Huskers started over with a starting lineup featuring four true freshmen and a junior transfer (Beason). Cook’s Huskers won their first 27 matches of the season and held the No. 1 ranking from Oct. 23 through the end of the regular season. Despite having no seniors on the roster for just the second time in Cook’s 24 years at Nebraska - as well as starting a true freshman at setter for only the second time in Cook’s tenure - the Huskers earned the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 and the sixth time overall under Cook.
• Cook was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2017, joining former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall. 

• It was a record-breaking night at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 30 when Nebraska hosted Omaha in an outdoor volleyball match. The attendance of 92,003 set a record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s sporting event in the United States. The crowd of more than 92,000 also surpassed what is widely regarded as the world-record attendance for any women’s sporting event.
• The previously recognized world record was 91,648 fans in an UEFA Champions League match between Barcelona and Wolfsburg on April 22, 2022, at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. The previous record for an American women’s sporting event was 90,185 in USA’s FIFA World Cup Final against China on July 10, 1999, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
• Along with the two records mentioned above, the Huskers shattered a pair of NCAA records, exceeding the previous records for any NCAA volleyball match and an NCAA volleyball regular-season match. 
• Entering the match, the largest-ever crowd for any NCAA volleyball match was 18,755 when Nebraska played Wisconsin in the NCAA Final at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 18, 2021. The largest NCAA volleyball regular-season attendance was 16,833 when Wisconsin hosted Florida at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., on Sept 16, 2022.
• The Husker volleyball program has sold out 319 consecutive regular-season matches. Nebraska’s sellout streak is an NCAA women’s record. The Huskers have led the nation in attendance every season since moving into the Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013.
• Nine of the top 11 crowds in NCAA volleyball history are matches that have involved the Huskers. 
• Of the 16 largest NCAA volleyball regular-season crowds, 14 have been Nebraska matches.
• On Oct. 21, Nebraska broke its Devaney Center attendance record since the arena was reconfigured for volleyball in 2013. A crowd of 9,198 turned out to see a five-set thriller between undefeated No. 1 Wisconsin and undefeated No. 2 Nebraska. Over the summer, 402 seats were added to the Devaney Center, increasing the seating capacity to 8,309. 
• Nebraska’s total attendance for the 2023 season was 264,665 (including the 92,003 for the outdoor match). Nebraska volleyball became the first female sport in NCAA history to draw 250,000 home fans in a single season.