The Nebraska Cornhuskers put on a dominant display, sweeping the Pittsburgh Panthers 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-17) in the 2023 NCAA Division I Volleyball Semifinals, securing their spot in the national championship game for the 11th time in program history.
From the opening serve, the Huskers asserted their presence with a stout defensive effort. Nebraska’s impenetrable wall at the net, led by the phenomenal Bekka Allick with a career-high 10 blocks, held the Panthers to a measly .137 hitting percentage. The Cornhuskers, meanwhile, swung for a .245 clip, showcasing their offensive prowess.
Set 1: Huskers Take Early Control
Nebraska jumped out to a commanding 8-2 lead in the first set, fueled by the fiery serving of Merritt Beason and the unstoppable hitting of Harper Murray. Pitt attempted to claw back, but the Huskers maintained their composure, closing out the set 25-20 thanks to a timely kill by Ally Batenhorst.
Set 2: A Tight Battle Ensues
The second set was a nail-biter, with both teams trading points throughout. Pitt, led by Kayla Lund’s six kills, kept the Cornhuskers on their toes. However, Nebraska’s resilience shone through, as they capitalized on Pitt’s errors and secured a crucial 25-23 victory on a service ace by Beason, sending the Huskers into the intermission with a 2-0 lead.
Set 3: Nebraska Seals the Deal
The third set began with another dominant Nebraska start, but Pitt refused to go down without a fight. The Panthers fought back, tying the score at 15-15. But the Huskers, fueled by the electric home crowd, found their rhythm once again. A string of powerful kills by Murray and Allick, along with Beason adding four service aces in the set, put the game out of reach for Pitt. Nebraska slammed the door shut with a resounding 25-17 victory, sending the Devaney Center into a frenzy.
Key Players and Performances
Harper Murray: The Huskers’ star outside hitter led the way with 13 kills and a .350 hitting percentage.
Bekka Allick: Allick was a force at the net, recording a career-high 10 blocks and hitting .571 with 4 kills.
Merritt Beason: Beason’s aggressive serving kept Pitt off balance, racking up 4 aces and contributing 8 kills.
Nebraska’s Block Party: The Huskers’ collective defensive effort was a key factor in their victory, as they tallied 15 blocks as a team.
Nebraska now awaits their opponent in the national championship game, which will be determined by the outcome of the other semifinal match between Wisconsin and Texas. Regardless of who they face, the Huskers are brimming with confidence and ready to battle for their fifth national championship.
Nebraska Head Coach John Cook: “I’m so proud of this team. They played with so much heart and determination tonight. We knew Pitt was a tough opponent, but we stayed focused and executed our game plan.”
Nebraska Outside Hitter Harper Murray: “This is an incredible feeling. We’ve worked so hard all season for this moment, and it’s finally here. We’re excited to see who we play in the finals, and we’re ready to fight for that national championship.”
Pitt Head Coach Dan Fisher: “Nebraska was the better team tonight. They deserved to win. We wish them the best in the national championship game.”
The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ dominant performance in the semifinals showcased their talent, depth, and championship pedigree. The Huskers now stand on the cusp of volleyball glory, ready to write another chapter in their illustrious history.