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  • Writer's picturePenny McNees

Nebraska and Texas are Digging it Out for the NCAA Volleyball Championship

The University of Nebraska decisively beat the University of Pittsburgh in three sets on Thursday, December 14, to move on to the championship game. In that Championship match, they will take on University of Texas, who beat University of Wisconsin in four.

In the game against Pittsburgh, Nebraska started slowly only hitting .152 with 9 kills, and 4 errors from thirty-three attempts but then went full throttle. They hit a .211 before an explosive .407 in the 2nd and 3rd sets respectively. A huge part of the offensive success for Nebraska was freshman outside hitter Harper Murray.

Murray led the match with 13 kills and had a hitting percentage of .273. Freshman setter Bergen Reilly was the key player that allowed Murray, along with the rest of the Nebraska offense, to explode with 31 assists, which also led the match.

A big part of Nebraska’s success was their blocking as a whole team. Leading Nebraska’s blocking team is sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick and junior outside hitter Merritt Beason. Allick had three solo blocks and seven block assists, while Beason added five block assists.

Setter Bergen Reilly. Photo Courtesy of @ncaavolleyball/Instagram

The key for Nebraska in the championship game against Texas will be to continue to feed the ball to Murray, and Nebraska’s other outsides in Beason and Ally Batenhorst, while also running middle attacks with Allick and Andi Jackson. The Huskers will also need to continue to be a major blocking team to slow down the Texas offense if they want to come away with their sixth national title. 

Texas had stellar third and fourth sets to knock out Wisconsin to advance to the title match.

Defensively for Texas, it was the Emma Halter show. The sophomore libero picked up a match high 19 digs, which eliminated a lot of Wisconsin's kill attempts and also allowed for Texas to retain the ball and run offensive plays.

Offensively, Texas flourished with four players reaching the double digit mark in kills. Junior outside jitter Jenna Wenaas and senior opposite Molly Phillips contributed 10 kills a piece while senior middle blocker Asjia O’Neal added 11 kills with a hitting percentage of .688.

On top of Wenaas, Phillips, and O’Neal’s offensive success, Wisconsin had to face junior outside hitter Madisen Skinner who rattled off 18 kills and also had a NCAA Semifinal and Championship record of six service aces. 

Emma Halter and Madisen Skinner. Photo Courtesy of @ncaavolleyball/Instagram

The key for Texas in the championship game is to hit around the Nebraska blocks and in return, block their offense, especially Murray, to come away with the back-to-back national title. 

Both of these teams are very talented, but also very different from each other. Nebraska is a very strong defensive and blocking team, whereas Texas relies more on their offense to put the ball down.

It will be a very interesting championship title game and will heavily rely on which team can maximize their strengths as a team and also elevate their level of play on areas that aren’t their strongest aspect. Even though Nebraska is the favorite to win, the title can truly go either way.

Nebraska and Texas play for the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship at 3 pm EST at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, and will be aired on ABC.


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