LINCOLN, Neb. - The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team swept 12th-ranked and fifth-seeded Georgia Tech Thursday afternoon in a third-round NCAA Tournament match in front of 8,580 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
With the win, the Huskers (31-1) advanced to an NCAA Regional Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years. Nebraska will play No. 9 Arkansas, which beat No. 8 Kentucky 3-2, on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Devaney Center.
Nebraska was impressive and efficient in posting its third sweep in three postseason matches. The Huskers hit .326 in the match, just the third time this season that a Georgia Tech opponent hit .300 or better. While Nebraska's offense was clicking with 37 kills and only nine errors, the Husker defense held the Yellow Jackets to a .019 attack percentage. Georgia Tech had 28 attack errors while being held to a season-low hitting percentage.
Merritt Beason paced the Huskers with 11 kills on only 23 swings, hitting .435 in the match. Ally Batenhorst added 10 kills on 25 swings. Andi Jackson had four kills on six error-free swings while posting a match-high five blocks. Bekka Allick added four blocks and totaled six kills on 11 swings. Lexi Rodriguez had a match-high 12 digs, while Bergen Reilly added 10 digs to go along with 30 assists and three blocks.
Tamara Otene led Georgia Tech (24-7) with nine kills, while Bianca Bertolino had eight kills.
Set 1: Allick and Batenhorst each had two early kills as the Huskers went up 5-1. Two more kills by Batenhorst had the Huskers up 10-3, and Murray put down a pair of kills as the Huskers built the lead to eight at 15-7. Beason had two kills and an ace, and Jackson had a block with Batenhorst and a kill, and the Huskers extended their advantage to 21-10. Nebraska closed out the set, 25-11, hitting .281 to -.111 for Georgia Tech.
Set 2: Beason started the set with a solo block, and Murray had two kills to help NU go up 6-1. Another solo block by Beason between Batenhorst kills made it 9-5. Jackson teamed up with Reilly for a block, and then Jackson tallied a kill for a 12-7 advantage. The Yellow Jackets put together a 3-0 spurt to cut it to 14-12, but Beason terminated a kill and Jackson and Batenhorst combined for a block before Jackson put down a kill and a 17-12 lead. A kill by Beason and block by Jackson and Murray pushed the lead to 20-14. The Huskers earned a set point at 24-16 on a double block from Beason and Allick, forcing a Georgia Tech timeout. Following the timeout, a Murray kill gave Nebraska a 2-0 lead.
Set 3: Nebraska took an 8-6 lead after a block by Jackson and Reilly, but the Yellow Jackets fought back to take a 13-11 lead. Beason pounded her seventh kill, and Georgia Tech hit long before Batenhorst hammered down an overpass for a 14-13 advantage, and the Huskers led 15-14 at the media timeout after another Beason kill. The Yellow Jackets answered to take a 17-16 lead, but a block by Allick and Reilly tied it 18-18. With the score tied 19-19, Beason put down a kill after a scramble at the net, and the AVCA Region Player of the Year tipped a kill to the floor to make it 21-19. Batenhorst added a kill on Murray's service run for a 22-19 advantage, and Murray then served an ace off the top of the net, and Allick and Beason posted a block for match point, 24-19. The Yellow Jackets finally earned sideout, but Nebraska won 25-21 on Beason's 11th kill.
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
- With the win, Nebraska advanced to an NCAA Regional Final for the 32nd time in program history and for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. The Huskers’ 32 regional final appearances are the most in NCAA history.
- Nebraska improved to 128-36 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers rank second in NCAA history in postseason wins and winning percentage (.780).
- Nebraska improved to 32-7 all-time in Regional Semifinal matches, including a 15-1 record in matches played in Lincoln.
- The win was Nebraska’s 21st consecutive home victory in the NCAA Tournament dating back to 2013. NU improved to 82-7 all-time in home NCAA Tournament matches, including 27-2 at the Devaney Center.
- The Huskers have swept their opponent 17 times in their 21-match home winning streak in the NCAA Tournament, posting a 66-7 set record during the winning streak.
- Nebraska moved to 20-0 at home this season with the win.
- The attendance for today’s match was 8,580. On the season, NU has drawn 255,953 fans for its 20 home matches (including the Memorial Stadium match). Nebraska has become the first female sport in NCAA history to draw 250,000 home fans in a single season.
- Nebraska faced Georgia Tech for the first time in the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are the 78th different opponent the Huskers have defeated in the NCAA Tournament. Georgia Tech became the 65th team John Cook has defeated during his Nebraska NCAA Tournament career.
- The Huskers moved to 10-0 all-time against ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament.
- John Cook coached the 119th NCAA Tournament match of his career today. He has coached the second-most postseason matches in NCAA history, as he entered today tied with John Dunning (Pacific/Stanford) with 118 NCAA Tournament matches coached. Russ Rose (Penn State) owns the NCAA record with 106 matches coached in the NCAA Tournament.
- Cook improved to 87-19 in the NCAA Tournament as Nebraska’s head coach. He improved to 95-24 in his NCAA Tournament career. Cook ranks second all-time in career NCAA Tournament victories and NCAA Tournament wins at one school.
- The Huskers won the first two sets against Georgia Tech and are 99-1 in the NCAA Tournament when taking a 2-0 lead. Nebraska has won 98 consecutive postseason matches when winning the first two sets.
- Nebraska did not trail at any point in the first two sets. Through three NCAA Tournament matches this season, the Huskers have never trailed in either set one or set two.
- The Huskers hit .326 in the match becoming just the third opponent to hit .300 against Georgia Tech.
- Nebraska hit .300 or better against a ranked opponent for the sixth time this season but for the first time since hitting .311 in a five-set win at Purdue on Sept. 29.
- The Huskers held the Yellow Jackets to a season-low .019 attack percentage, which also marked NU's second-lowest opponent hitting percentage of the season.
- Nebraska held an opponent under .100 hitting for the second straight match and for the 14th time this season. Georgia Tech was the second ranked opponent Nebraska has held under a .100 attack percentage this season (also No. 21 Ohio State on Sept. 22, 2003 [.090]).
- Nebraska won the opening set 25-11. That marked the first time the Huskers had held an opponent to 11 or fewer points in a set in an NCAA Regional since defeating Colorado, 25-11, in the second set of a 2017 regional semifinal.
- Merritt Beason had 11 kills and hit .435 in the match. Through three NCAA Tournament matches this season, Beason has totaled 36 on .449 hitting. Beasons has had exactly 23 attacks in all three postseason matches, totaling double-digit kills with at least a .435 attack percentage in every match.