COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ebony Nwanebu had 15 kills to help No. 4 Texas beat top-ranked Nebraska in three sets in the NCAA women’s volleyball semifinals.
Paulina Prieto-Cerame added 15 kills in Texas’ 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 victory.
The Longhorns (27-4) will face Stanford in the final. The Cardinal beat Minnesota in four sets in the first semifinal.
“We have a lot of self-confidence as a team going into it,” Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I’ve been to a lot of Final Fours and this is the calmest I’ve been going into it. I just had a feeling with this group that they would perform at a high level tonight. And they proved that.”
Nebraska’s leading hitters, Kadie Rolfzen and Mikaela Foecke, combined for 19 kills. Foecke was set 30 times and swung at a rate of .333. Nebraska finished 31-3.
The match was a rematch of the 2015 national championship game in Omaha, Nebraska, where the Cornhuskers won in three sets. The Huskers beat Texas in late August, but the Longhorns’ attack proved too tough for the reigning national champs.
With Texas leading 19-18 in the third set, Texas went on a 6-3 run to close out the match. Nwanebu had three kills in that stretch, capped off with one of Morgan Johnson’s four kills that sent Texas to its second consecutive national championship match.
In the final set, Texas had a .424 hitting percentage, with eight kills from Nwanebu.
Texas was practically flawless when the ball was in the air. The Longhorns had a total of just eight hitting errors on 109 attempts. Nebraska, on the other hand, had 21 hitting errors and got outblocked 10-4.
“Very uncharacteristic,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “I saw stuff I haven’t seen all year tonight. But that’s what happens in a match like this sometimes.”
Nebraska climbed out of a 2-0 hole and came back to win against Penn State in their regional semifinal match, but Texas had an answer any time the Cornhuskers had the chance to grab the momentum.
“I feel like that’s the calmest environment I’ve ever been in and it’s the most hectic tournament ever,” Nwanebu said. “So I just think everyone’s emotions were in check and that really helped us win tonight.”
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