Sarah Pavan had a match-high 15 kills on .500 hitting, as No. 1 Nebraska rolled into the Gainesville Regional final with a 30-21, 30-20, 30-15 sweep of No. 14 San Diego at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Friday afternoon.
With the win, the Huskers improved to 30-1 on the season and reached the 30-win plateau for the third straight year and the 18th time in school history. The Huskers will face Minnesota, a 3-1 winner over Florida, Saturday afternoon with a trip to the national semifinals in Omaha on the line.
Pavan put on a show in the final two games, totaling 13 of her 15 kills, as the Huskers finished the night hitting .385 and committed just 10 attack errors. NU also got outstanding performances from freshman Kori Cooper, who totaled nine kills on .571 hitting and a match-high six blocks, and sophomore Jordan Larson, who finished with eight kills, four blocks, nine digs and three service aces in completing NU’s 24th sweep of the year.
Rachel Holloway guided a Husker attack that saw three players hit .500 or better, as she totaled 35 assists, five digs, four kills and a pair of service aces. The Huskers totaled seven aces and held USD without an ace, as NU totaled a positive ace-to-service error ratio for the seventh time in the past eight matches.
The Huskers used strong serving and solid defense in posting a 30-21 victory in the opener. NU hit .300 and held USD to .086 hitting. Larson was a force in game one, delivering four kills and a pair of aces. Nebraska relied on the play of Larson early on, as the sophomore totaled three kills in a 5-1 Husker run, turning a 9-8 lead into 14-9 advantage. The Toreros fought back, pulling to within 15-12 on a Kristen Carlson kill, but Larson quickly racked up a pair of aces to push the margin to 18-12. Trailing 19-15, USD scored three straight points to get within 19-18, but could get no closer, as the Huskers ran off five straight points. Holloway started the run with a pair of kills before an ace by Pavan and a Dani Mancuso kill pushed the lead to 23-18, and the Toreros never got within four points the rest of game one.
Nebraska’s offense keyed the NU attack in game two, as the Huskers rolled to a 30-20 victory. The Huskers hit .368 as a team, as Pavan slammed home seven kills in 15 attempts, while Cooper added four kills. NU took control early on, running off seven of the first nine points, including back-to-back aces by Holloway to an early lead. The Toreros, making their second Sweet 16 appearance in school history, fought back to get with 12-8 before Pavan took over. The All-American from Kitchener, Ontario pounded home three kills in a 5-1 run, helping NU extend the lead to 17-9 after a Dani Busboom ace. The Huskers eventually pushed the lead to double digits, at 22-12 after a Mancuso kill, and cruised to a 10-point win to take a 2-0 lead.
In game three, the Husker defense took over, holding USD to -.025 hitting, as they doubled up the Toreros, 30-15. Pavan had six kills in seven swings, while Cooper and Mancuso combined for seven kills without an error in nine swings. The Huskers took much of the drama out of the game early, jumping to a 7-2 lead that forced USD to take a timeout. The Toreros clawed back to within 10-5, but NU closed the door with a 13-4 run capped by Larson’s third ace of the night, to take a 23-9 cushion. NU led by as much as 17 and completed the sweep on Pavan’s 15th kill of the night.
Kristen Carlson led San Diego (26-6) with 10 kills, while no other player totaled more than seven kills in the loss.
Courtesy: Nebraska Sports Information