A B1G final: Nebraska beats Pitt, plays Wisconsin in NCAA volleyball title match

Pitt libero Ashley Browske gets in front of Kayla Lund for this pass against Nebraska/Wally Nell photo

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Ten 2, ACC 0.

Tenth-seeded Nebraska of the Big Ten lost the first set and then overpowered third-seeded Pittsburgh of the ACC on Thursday night in the second NCAA Tournament national semifinal 16-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22.

The Huskers (26-7), who finished second in the Big Ten, will play the conference champion, fourth-seeded Wisconsin, in Saturday night’s national-championship match. The Badgers also beat an ACC team, top-seeded and previously unbeaten Louisville.

Pitt (30-4) was playing in the first national semifinal of any of the school’s athletic programs.

Madi Kubik led Nebraska with 13 kills, three aces, seven digs, and two blocks. Kayla Caffey had 10 kills and four blocks. Lindsay Krause had nine kills and three blocks, and Lauren Stivrins had nine kills in 17 errorless swings, an ace, and six blocks. Nicklin Hames had two kills in four errorless tries, 45 assists, 13 digs, and four blocks. Her team hit .239. Lexi Rodriguez had 13 kills and three assists, and Keonilei Akana had 11 digs, an ace, and an assist.

Pitt’s Chiamaka Nwokolo hits against Nebraska’s Kayla Caffey/Wally Nell photo

Pitt’s Leketor Member-Meneh had 13 kills, two assists, and seven digs. Serena Gray had 11 kills with two errors in 19 attacks to hit .474 and had an ace, three digs, and a block. Kayla Lund had nine kills, two assists, 14 digs, and a block. Chinaza Ndee had eight kills, two digs, and four blocks, and Chiamaka Nwokolo ha seven kills with one error in eight attacks and six blocks.

Nebraska advanced in the NCAA Tournament with sweeps of Campbell, Florida State, and Illinois, and then upset No. 2 Texas on its home floor in four-sets in the regional final. The Huskers played Wisconsin twice this season. Wisconsin swept their first meeting, October 27 in Lincoln, and then won in four on November 26 in Madison.

Pitt sustained all three of its losses in the ACC, twice to Louisville and once to Georgia Tech. In the NCAA tourney, the Panthers swept UMBC, beat Penn State in four, swept Kansas, and then beat sixth-seeded Purdue in four.

Nebraska is one of the 11 schools to have won an NCAA title. The Huskers won in 1995 under Terry Pettit, and in 2000, 2006, 2015, and 2017 under John Cook. Stanford has nine titles; Penn State seven; Nebraska five; UCLA four; Hawai’i, Long Beach State, and USC three each; Pacific and Texas two each; and Kentucky and Washington one each.

Nebraska’s Lauren Stivrins attacks against Pitt/Michael Gomez photo

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