Nebraska’s Lauren Stivrins (26) goes up for a kill against Illinois’ Beth Prince (8) as teammate Mikaela Foecke looks on in the first set Thursday during an NCAA volleyball national semifinal at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
The star: Illinois clearly wanted to get outside hitter Jacqueline Quade going. She had nine kills on 22 swings, while also providing five digs and a service ace. Quade's eighth kill broke a 21-21 tie.
Don’t forget about: Nebraska held a 14-11 lead before the Illini found a rhythm en route to a 7-2 run. It was a kill by Quade that sparked the run and it helped Illinois turn the set in its favor. Illinois also defended NU star Mikaela Foecke well, holding her to four kills on 16 swings.
Trends: This was the Huskers' first set loss since Nov. 16 at Purdue. ... NU sophomore Lexi Sun had a team-high six kills in the set. ... Illinois hit .269 in the first set, and Nebraska .255.
Score: Illinois 25-16
NU’s largest lead: No lead
Illinois' largest lead: 9 (25-16)
The star: Setter Jordyn Poulter and Quade continued to carry the Illini offense. Quade had six kills on 14 swings, pushing her attack total to 36 through two sets. Illinois only had four attack errors in the set. Poulter had two early service aces.
Don’t forget about: Illinois jumped to a 6-0 lead, and Nebraska coach John Cook used up both of his timeouts during that stretch. Behind three straight kills from sophomore Jazz Sweet, the Huskers pulled to 19-15, but a Husker attack error sparked Illinois, which won six of the set's final seven rallies, including the final five. Passing struggles also hampered the Huskers.
Trends: Illinois hit .241 in the set, while Nebraska hit .129. ... Each team had three ace serves. ... Nebraska hadn't dropped consecutive sets since Oct. 27 against Illinois.
The star: It was only a matter of time before Foecke got going, and she had a big third set — seven kills on 17 swings and only one error. Her back-row kill gave the Huskers a 22-21 lead, and fellow captain Kenzie Maloney set Foecke on a kill to break a 23-23 tie. The set-clinching kill: Foecke, of course.
Don’t forget about: Freshman setter Nicklin Hames started to find a rhythm with her hitters. She had nine assists in the set. Illinois took a 23-22 lead on a Nebraska hitting error, but NU freshman Callie Schwarzenbach came back with a strong kill to tie the match.
Trends: The Huskers cut their set deficit to 2-1 despite six service errors in the this set. ... Nebraska hit .298 in the set, and Illinois .200.
Score: Nebraska 25-20
NU’s largest lead: 5 (25-20)
Illinois' largest lead: 2 (4-2)
The star: Nebraska's Sun had six kills in the set, including the set-clinching point. Her fourth kill of the set, tying the match at 12-12, stalled an Illini run. She smashed a kill to give the Huskers a 20-18 lead, and the Illini never recovered.
Don’t forget about: Consecutive serves late in the set told the story. Poulter, who was serving a great match, had a service error, giving Nebraska a 22-20 lead. Hames then followed with a service ace, and the Huskers were well on their way to forcing a fifth set.
Trends: Nebraska hit .206 in the set, and Illinois .156. ... The Illini had five service errors in the set, after having just two through the first three sets.
Score: Nebraska 15-11
NU’s largest lead: 4 (15-11)
Illinois' largest lead: 1 (7-6)
The star: How about giving it to Cook for the late challenge? Foecke's cross-court kill was called out, initially tying the set at 12-12. But Cook pulled out the challenge card, and got the call. The ball had grazed the fingertips of Ali Bastianelli.
Don’t forget about: Nebraska didn't let up after the long challenge, getting a service ace from Maloney and a match-clinching kill from Foecke, who had four kills in the set. Illinois struggled serving in the final set, serving out early three times.
Trends: Nebraska hit .458 in the set, while Illinois was at .333. ... Maloney finished the match with a team-high 20 digs.