LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Dec. 7)–The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team swept 12th-ranked and fifth-seeded Georgia Tech Thursday afternoon in a third-round NCAA Tournament match in front of 8,580 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
With the win, the Huskers (31-1) advanced to an NCAA Regional Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years. Nebraska will play No. 3 seed Arkansas, on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Devaney Center. The match will be televised by ESPN-U.
Nebraska was impressive and efficient in posting its third sweep in three postseason matches. The Huskers hit .326 in the match, just the third time this season that a Georgia Tech opponent hit .300 or better. While Nebraska’s offense was clicking with 37 kills and only nine errors, the Husker defense held the Yellow Jackets to a .019 attack percentage. Georgia Tech had 28 attack errors while being held to a season-low hitting percentage.
Merritt Beason paced the Huskers with 11 kills on only 23 swings, hitting .435 in the match. Ally Batenhorst added 10 kills on 25 swings. Andi Jackson had four kills on six error-free swings while posting a match-high five blocks. Bekka Allick added four blocks and totaled six kills on 11 swings. Lexi Rodriguez had a match-high 12 digs, while Bergen Reilly added 10 digs to go along with 30 assists and three blocks.
Tamara Otene led Georgia Tech (24-7) with nine kills, while Bianca Bertolino had eight kills.
Set 1: Allick and Batenhorst each had two early kills as the Huskers went up 5-1. Two more kills by Batenhorst had the Huskers up 10-3, and Murray put down a pair of kills as the Huskers built the lead to eight at 15-7. Beason had two kills and an ace, and Jackson had a block with Batenhorst and a kill, and the Huskers extended their advantage to 21-10. Nebraska closed out the set, 25-11, hitting .281 to -.111 for Georgia Tech.
Set 2: Beason started the set with a solo block, and Murray had two kills to help NU go up 6-1. Another solo block by Beason between Batenhorst kills made it 9-5. Jackson teamed up with Reilly for a block, and then Jackson tallied a kill for a 12-7 advantage. The Yellow Jackets put together a 3-0 spurt to cut it to 14-12, but Beason terminated a kill and Jackson and Batenhorst combined for a block before Jackson put down a kill and a 17-12 lead. A kill by Beason and block by Jackson and Murray pushed the lead to 20-14. The Huskers earned a set point at 24-16 on a double block from Beason and Allick, forcing a Georgia Tech timeout. Following the timeout, a Murray kill gave Nebraska a 2-0 lead.
Set 3: Nebraska took an 8-6 lead after a block by Jackson and Reilly, but the Yellow Jackets fought back to take a 13-11 lead. Beason pounded her seventh kill, and Georgia Tech hit long before Batenhorst hammered down an overpass for a 14-13 advantage, and the Huskers led 15-14 at the media timeout after another Beason kill. The Yellow Jackets answered to take a 17-16 lead, but a block by Allick and Reilly tied it 18-18. With the score tied 19-19, Beason put down a kill after a scramble at the net, and the AVCA Region Player of the Year tipped a kill to the floor to make it 21-19. Batenhorst added a kill on Murray’s service run for a 22-19 advantage, and Murray then served an ace off the top of the net, and Allick and Beason posted a block for match point, 24-19. The Yellow Jackets finally earned sideout, but Nebraska won 25-21 on Beason’s 11th kill.