Written by Adrian Beecher
Nebraska defeated PITT three-sets to nil on Thursday night to punch their ticket to the National Title Match Sunday.
Here’s how it all went down at Amalie Arena in the National Semi-Final Match.
Early on, things were tense, with PITT and Nebraska going back and forth trading leads. At 5-5 PITT’s Olivia Babcock had a service error, a rare mistake with her leading the tournament with 10 ACE’s heading into the Final Four.
With a 6-5 lead, Nebraska challenged a point that evened it up for PITT. The challenge was that the ball hit the side antenna, which would have meant it was out. However, after further review, the call of a point was correct, and the Huskers lost one of their two challenges allowed in the first four sets.
Things stayed tight and were tied back up at eight all. However, the Huskers would challenge the point again, saying that the ball was never touched. It was a risky move, which would cost them all challenges unless they were correct. Upon further review, it was determined there was no touch, and this gave the point to Nebraska and made it 9-7 early on in the first set.
Nebraska used this as momentum as they methodically drew out to a 20-16 lead in the set. After that, it grew to 22-17, and PITT took a timeout to regroup. Out of the timeout, they were able to get a point to pull within four.
However, it would be Nebraska and the Big Red faithful celebrating after forcing a match-point situation at a 24-18 advantage. The Panthers rallied back, winning the next two points, forcing a timeout from Nebraska.
Out of the timeout, the Huskers would take home the first set with their 8th block of the match!
To start the 2nd set, we would get a 3rd challenge of the match from Huskers head coach John Cook for a no-touch call. He would be correct for a second time after the replay showed a touch from PITT.
The 10th block of the night for the Huskers would come from Merritt Beason, giving them a 4-2 lead on the second set. PITTs Olivia Babcock would answer back with a block of her own to start a rally to tie things up at 4.
Andi Jackson picked up her 2nd kill of the night to make it an 11-6 lead for Nebraska as they started to pull away.
Babcock then served an ace to make it 17-15 PITT as the Panthers continued to fight back. However, she followed this with a service error to flip it back to the Huskers at 18-15. Nebraska would then drop in another point to make it 19-15, and the Panthers called a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Ally Batenhorst would add a kill to push the lead back to 5 as the Huskers clicked 20.
After PITT drew things to a 23-20 deficit, the Huskers would look to close things out with a 24-20 lead. However, a PITT rally was in order as they pulled within one. However, a service error on the match point trailing 24-23 would serve up another Huskers win. This made it a 2-0 set lead for Nebraska.
In the 3rd set, the Huskers would assert their dominance, drawing out a 19-10 lead over the Panthers. After drawing to 7, the Huskers would take a 20-12 lead. PITT’s rally would fall short as the Huskers clinched set 3 with a 25-17 win.
The victory gave them their 33rd win of the season and punched their ticket to the 2023 Women’s Volleyball National Championship on Sunday to play the winner of Texas vs Wisconsin.
Image Credit: Taylar Beecher