BYU advances to Final Four with upset of Huskers
SEATTLE – Alexa Gray led No. 12 BYU women's volleyball to a sweep (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) against No. 14-seed Nebraska in Washington to advance to its second-ever NCAA tournament national semifinals.
"First of all, hats off to Nebraska for an outstanding season," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Coach Cook has done an outstanding job over there. I can’t say enough about these kids. I don’t have the words to describe what these kids have done. I think Jen brought us here last night, so I think it’s fitting that the other girls stepped it up this match."
Gray led the Cougars with 11 kills on a .310 clip. Amy Boswell led the team in blocks with six while Ciara Parker added 15 digs. Alohi Robins-Hardy contributed 33 assists and 15 digs. Additionally, Tambre Nobles had double-digit kills with 10.
BYU (29-4) got the first set started against Nebraska (23-10) with a block from Whitney Young and Jennifer Hamson. The Huskers weren't shaken as they then went on a 6-2 run to give them the edge early on. The Cougars battled back, however, to retake the lead at 12-11 with a Nobles kill. The score was then tied at every point until a Nebraska attack error put BYU up by two at 20-18, forcing a Husker timeout. With the Cougars up by four at 22-18, Nebraska quickly scored two points to come within two at 22-20. A Hamson service ace brought set point for BYU at 24-20 before a Boswell and Robins-Hardy block closed out the set 25-21 for the Cougars.
The Huskers opened the second set on a 3-1 run guided by a pair of kills from the Rolfzen sisters. BYU was then able to rally back and take an 8-5 advantage, capped off by a Boswell kill. Nebraksa took its second timeout of the set after a Boswell and Nobles block gave the Cougars a 14-10 advantage. The Huskers then scored four-straight, with help from three BYU errors, to tie things up at 14-all. Points were traded back and forth after that until a 6-1 Cougar rally–including four Gray kills–put BYU back up by four at 22-18. The Cougars stayed strong to finish the set 25-20 on a Boswell and Hamson block.
After the intermission, a Nobles kill helped BYU to come out to a 4-2 lead early in the third set. Nebraska was able to bridge the gap, though, taking a 9-8 edge after a block. The Huskers were forced to take their first timeout of the set with the Cougars ahead 14-11 after a Boswell kill capped off a 5-1 BYU run. A Hamson kill then finished a 4-1 rally for the Cougars that kept them ahead 19-14 in the set. Nebraska followed with a 4-1 run of its own to come back within two at 20-18. BYU finished the set strong, ending 25-21 on another Gray kill.
Hamson was named the Most Oustanding Player of the All-Region Team with Gray and Boswell also making the list for the Cougars. Kadie Rolfzen and Mary Pollmiller of Nebraska, Krista Vansant of Washington and Nicole Walch of Florida State also made the team.
With the win the Cougars advance to their second-ever NCAA tournament national semifinals, having last played in the Final Four in 1993. BYU will face off against No. 2-seed Texas on Thursday at 6 p.m. CST in Oklahoma City. The game will be televised live on ESPN2. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU women's volleyball schedule page.
Volleyball travels to Washington for regional semifinals
PROVO, Utah – No. 12 BYU women’s volleyball travels to Washington this week to play in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
The Cougars will first face off against No. 6-seed Florida State. Should BYU win, the Cougars would advance to face the winner of No. 3-seed Washington and No. 14-seed Nebraska.
Last week, BYU swept Seton Hall before winning a four-set thriller on No. 11-seed Arizona’s home court in the first two rounds of the tournament.
No. 6 Florida State
- The Cougars face Florida State Friday at 4 p.m. PST at the University of Washington.
- BYU leads the overall series 4-1 with the Seminoles winning the last matchup in five sets on Nov. 10, 1989.
- Florida State is led by 3.93 kills per set from Nicole Walch, 6.48 assists per set from Sarah Wickstrom, Katie Mosher’s 4.17 digs per set and Sarah Burrington’s 1.45 block average.
- The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
No. 3 Washington
- Should BYU win on Friday, it will face the winner of Washington and Nebraska Saturday at 8 p.m. PST.
- The Cougars are 12-1 all-time against the Huskies.
- Washington won a five-set thriller at BYU earlier this season at the BYU Invitational – its only win in the series.
- The Huskies are led by Krista Vansant’s 4.70 kills per set, 6.35 assists per set from Katy Beals, a 3.95 dig average from Cassie Strickland and Lianna Sybeldon’s 1.57 blocks per set.
No. 14 Nebraska
- Nebraska and BYU have faced each other 10 previous times. The Huskers lead the overall series 8-2.
- Nebraska won the last matchup on Sept. 3, 2010 in four sets.
- The Huskers are led by 3.56 kills per set from Kadie Rolfzen, Mary Pollmiller’s 10.10 assist average, Justine Wong-Orantes’ 3.77 digs per set and 1.32 blocks per set from Cecilia Hall.
Friday’s match against Florida State will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Saturday’s matchup against Washington/Nebraska would be broadcast on ESPNU. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.
Fans can purchase tickets on the Washington website. All tickets are general admission. Adult tickets cost $20 and youth/senior tickets are $12.