Lincoln, Neb. – Nebraska’s top-ranked volleyball team moved on to the NCAA Tournament after sweeping Long Island 25-13, 25-16, 25-22 on Friday night in front of a crowd of 8,599 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Huskers (29-1) were balanced offensively with five players recording at least six kills. Merritt Bisson led the way with a match-high 13 kills while hitting .478. Harper Murray added nine kills in her NCAA Tournament debut while Allie Batenhorst had seven kills. Middles Andy Jackson and Maggie Mendelsohn each had six kills, with Mendelsohn tying her career high for kills and blocks (4).
Nebraska recorded 44 kills to LIU’s 28, and the Huskers hit .280 compared to .151 by the Sharks. NU also had a 46-33 advantage in digs and had seven aces. Camelia Melendez paced LIU with 12 kills while Rumur Rouille had a team-high seven blocks.
Group 1: Mendelsohn started the match with a block with Beason and a kill, and kills each by Battenhorst and Jackson — along with an ace from Beason — put the Huskers up 8-3. The Huskers kept their foot on the gas, going up 14-5 after two kills by Murray and one by Riley as part of another 4-0 run. Riley and Murray each served a slam, while Beason and Mendelsohn combined to get a block, and the Huskers built the lead to 19-7. Rodriguez served the Huskers with a fourth ace for a 21-8 lead, and Battenhorst, Jackson and Riley recorded kills down the stretch as the Huskers won 25-13. Nebraska held LIU to -0.040 in the first set.
Group 2: Liu held on in the second game, falling behind 9-7 after a kill by Camelia Melendez. Murray and Bison then combined for three straight kills to help the Huskers go up 12-7, but the Sharks fought back to within two, 15-13. Jackson and Murray made kills to put the Big Red back up by five points at 18-13, Beeson and Murray made kills while Riley served two aces, and the Huskers took a 23-15 lead. Mendelsohn then recorded two kills to close out the set, 25-16.
Group 3: The Huskers fell into an 8-3 hole when Long Island clicked offensively. The Sharks led 11-5 before Murray and an ace were killed by Kennedy Orr. After a LIU kill, Mendelsohn made a kill and tackle on Murray, and a LIU offensive error cut the deficit to one, 12-11. However, the Sharks held firm, bringing the lead back to three at 19-16. Jackson responded after the timeout with a kill, and Bison finished off the back row to make it 19-18. The teams traded points before Murray used a block to tie the score at 20-20. The teams then traded kills on the next four drives, and a hitting error by LIU made it 23-22 Nebraska, the Huskers’ first lead of the set. After a Long Island timeout, Beason earned the match point with a kill, and the Huskers won 25-22.
the next: Nebraska will face Missouri in the NCAA second round on Saturday at 7pm on ESPN+. Missouri swept Delaware in the first game on Friday, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23.
Nebraska postgame notes
- Nebraska officially appeared in its 42nd NCAA Tournament tonight. The Huskers rank second in NCAA history in NCAA Tournament appearances and consecutive appearances (42).
- With the win, Nebraska improved to 126-36 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers rank second in NCAA history in postseason wins and winning percentage (.778).
- Nebraska improved to 36-1 all-time in first-round NCAA Tournament games. The Huskers have won their last 35 first-round games dating back to 1984.
- Nebraska’s sweep of Long Island marked the Huskers’ 30th sweep in 37 games ever in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
- NU improved to 80-7 all-time in home NCAA Tournament games, joining Stanford as the only two programs in NCAA history with 80 home postseason victories.
- Nebraska won its 19th consecutive home game in the NCAA Tournament (dating back to 2013). NU improved to 25-2 in postseason games at the Bob Devaney Center.
- The Huskers improved to 58-1 all-time against unseeded opponents in the NCAA Tournament. Overall (regular season and postseason), Nebraska has won 125 straight games against unranked opponents dating back to 2017.
- Nebraska faced Long Island for the first time on Friday, making the Sharks the 77th opponent the Huskers have defeated in the NCAA Tournament. LIU became the 64th different team John Cook has defeated during its run in the Nebraska NCAA Tournament.
- John Cook improved to 85-19 in the NCAA Tournament as Nebraska’s head coach. He improved to 93-24 in his NCAA Tournament career. Cook ranks second all-time in career NCAA tournament victories and has won an NCAA championship at one school.
- The Huskers won the first two sets against LIU and were 95-1 in the NCAA Tournament when they took a 2-0 lead. Nebraska has won 94 straight postseason games when it has won the first two sets.
- Nebraska had seven aces and only six service errors. Tonight was only the second time this season that the Huskers had more aces than errors.
- After an offensive error on their first swing of the game, the Huskers racked up 10 kills on their next 11 swings.
- LIU did not win the first service point until the 31st rally of the first set.
- Maggie Mendelsohn had six kills and six blocks in the match, tying career highs in both categories.
- The Merritt Beason had a game-high 13 kills with a .478 attack percentage. After having one kill in three swings and hitting .000 in the first set, Beason had 12 kills in 20 swings and hit .550 over the final two sets.
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