MADISON, Wis. — The Nebraska volleyball team's season came to an end in the NCAA Regional Final against Wisconsin on Saturday evening at the Wisconsin Field House in front of a crowd of 7,052. The fifth-seeded Huskers were swept by the fourth-seeded Badgers, 25-18, 25-22, 25-19.
Nebraska finished the season 28-5 overall, reaching an NCAA Regional Final for the eighth straight season. No other program in the nation has an Elite Eight streak spanning the last eight years.
Three of the Huskers' five losses came at the hands of the Big Ten champion Badgers, who advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time since 2013.
“I thought it was a really good match. Our team did a great job of defending Wisconsin," Husker coach John Cook said. "We were much improved in that area. They had the home crowd. They made some big plays when they needed to, and they played great.
“They have proven to us that they are the best team in the Big Ten this year, and so we wish them the best in the final four, and again, I asked my team to come in here and compete and play with courage, and I couldn't be more proud of the effort they gave tonight.”
Unlike the first two matches this season, the Huskers did a much better job slowing down the Badgers' high-powered attack, limiting Wisconsin to a season-low .192 hitting percentage. However, the Huskers could not get on track offensively either, hitting a season-low .062 for the match. The Badgers also had four more aces (5-1) and seven more blocks (11-4).
"We prepared really well. We figured out some things the first two times we played them because we weren't very good against them, and our players did an A-plus job of following the game plan and staying with it," Cook said. “We had plenty of opportunities to convert points. They did an awesome job with following the game plan. (Assistant coach) Jaylen (Reyes) came up with a great game plan, so I'm sure some other teams are going to study that.”
Jazz Sweet continued her strong play in the NCAA Tournament, pacing the Huskers with 11 kills. Lexi Sun added 11 kills and 11 digs for her 10th double-double of the season, and Madi Kubik added seven kills and 11 digs. Sweet and Sun were named to the All-Regional Team.
Nicklin Hames had 26 assists to go with seven digs, and libero Kenzie Knuckles had a match-high 22 digs, just two shy of the school record for digs in a three-set NCAA Tournament match.
Molly Haggerty led the Badgers (26-6) with 14 kills. Grace Loberg added nine kills, while Dana Rettke had seven kills and eight blocks. Tiffany Clark led Wisconsin with 17 digs, and Sydney Hilley had 31 assists.