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Huskers hold No. 4 seed in NCAA tournament, will host first round of play

  • Nedu Izu
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Lauren Cook, Paige Hubl, Gina Mancuso, Allison McNeal and Hannah Werth ran out on the court for their last regular season match at home.

After sweeping Iowa 3-0 on Wednesday (25-12, 25-16, 25-8), the No. 10 Nebraska volleyball team defeated Northwestern 3-1 (25-15, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21) in its final regular season match at the NU Coliseum.

“(Senior Night) was a very difficult night,” said NU coach John Cook. “There’s a lot of distractions with Senior Night, last home game in the Coliseum and we played a team that has no fear. But we found a way and made some big serves and blocks when we needed it and sided out well enough to win that match.”

On Sunday afternoon, the volleyball team found out they’d spend the opening weekend of the postseason for the ninth straight season back at the NU Coliseum. The Huskers’ home court was chosen as one of 16 sites for the NCAA first and second-round tournament beginning next weekend. Play will begin Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. matchup between Kansas State (21-8) and Northern Iowa (24-9). Nebraska, the overall No. 4 seed, will take on Maryland (28-5) at 7 p.m.

Cook said he’s excited to see his team continue its winning momentum in its first match Thursday.

“Our theme’s been unfinished business and it looks like we have another opportunity to finish up some business,” Cook said.

Werth agrees with her coach.

“I think we’re at a point in time where it’s something that we don’t necessarily need to talk about,” she said. “Just actions and follow through with our word and our commitment that we said in the beginning. It’s very exciting that we don’t get this opportunity to prove it.”

The winners of the two opening matches will face off Friday at 7 p.m., and the winner will advance to the Omaha Regional the following weekend.

Hubl said she’s thrilled to stay in Nebraska for the tournament and added she’s hoping her time as a Husker won’t end any time soon.

“The home court advantage at the Coliseum and in Omaha is unlike anywhere else in the country,” she said. “We’re going to have to use that to our advantage. First round’s not going to be easy, second round’s not going to be easy, so we’re taking it game by game this year.”

After winning its last five out of six matches, Werth said she and her teammates feel comfortable heading into the postseason.

“I feel like we’re getting into that room and groove as a team,” she said. “Everyone understands their roles and I think that’s really important.”

“There’s six possible matches left and we’re taking seriously but still enjoying volleyball and realizing what we need to do in order to get it done.”

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