The Nebraska volleyball team will go for back-to-back NCAA titles when it takes on No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA Championship match on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The match will be televised on ESPN2 and will be streamed online at WatchESPN.com. Paul Sunderland, Karch Kiraly and Holly Rowe will have the call.
The match will be broadcast on Husker Sports Network radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and also on the official Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 25th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.
Huskers Rally for Thrilling 3-2 Win over Illinois in NCAA Semifinals
• With Thursday’s semifinal win over No. 3 Illinois, Nebraska (29-6) advanced to the NCAA Final for the ninth time in program history (third-most in NCAA history). The Huskers have made back-to-back NCAA Finals for only the second time in school history (2005 and 2006) and are playing for the national title for the third time in the past four seasons.
• The Huskers will go for their sixth national title and second in a row on Saturday. Nebraska has never won back-to-back national championships.
• NU rallied from an 0-2 deficit against Illinois for the first time ever in an NCAA Semifinal or Final. The Huskers had been 0-4 in NCAA Semifinals when losing the first two sets and 0-3 in NCAA Finals when losing the first two sets.
• The Huskers became the first team to rally from an 0-2 deficit in an NCAA Semifinal or Final since Penn State came back to defeat Texas in the 2009 NCAA Final. The last time a team rallied from an 0-2 hole in an NCAA Semifinal match was in 2008, when Stanford defeated Texas.
• Nebraska set a school record with its 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament victory. The 11-match postseason winning streak ranks sixth in NCAA history.
• Nebraska improved its all-time NCAA Tournament record to 113-31. The Huskers’ 113 victories and .785 winning percentage in the postseason rank second in NCAA history to Stanford (124-31).
• Nebraska improved to 9-6 all-time in NCAA Semifinal matches, including a 6-3 record under John Cook. Cook moved to 72-14 overall in NCAA Tournament play as Nebraska’s head coach and 80-18 in his career, including his seven seasons at Wisconsin.
• Cook has taken a Husker team to the NCAA Final for the sixth time in his 19 seasons at Nebraska, winning four national championships. Cook’s six finals appearances rank fifth among all coaches in NCAA history.
• Cook improved to 8-1 against Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament at Nebraska.
• The Huskers extended their winning streak to 13 matches with the win over third-ranked Illinois. Nebraska is 7-0 against ranked opponents during its win streak, including 3-0 vs. top-10 foes.
• Illinois won five of the final six rallies in set one to hand Nebraska its first set loss of the NCAA Tournament, 25-22. The Huskers had won all 12 sets in the postseason and 22 straight sets dating back to Nov. 16.
• NU fell behind 0-2 for just the third time this season. The previous two times both occurred in the first six matches of the year. The Huskers are 2-1 when losing the first two sets of a match, with both wins coming over top-15 opponents (Creighton and Illinois).
• Nebraska’s two seniors who have been with the program all four years – Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney – improved to 21-1 in their NCAA Tournament careers. The duo has won more postseason matches than any other players in Husker history.
• Foecke and Maloney each played their 22nd NCAA Tournament match on Thursday, setting a school record for the most postseason matches by any player in program history. The duo have also each played 77 career sets in their NCAA Tournament careers, the most by any player in Nebraska history.
• Foecke and Maloney are a combined 52-2 all-time in the months of November and December.
• Foecke had 19 kills in the match, giving her 102 career kills in the NCAA Semifinals/Finals. She became just the 10th player in NCAA history to have 100 kills in NCAA Semifinals/Finals matches.
• Foecke also had two aces, giving her eight in her career in NCAA Semifinals/Finals matches, which ties for the 10th-most in NCAA history. Her two aces also moved her up to seventh on Nebraska’s all-time list with 134.
• Maloney had a team-high 20 digs against Illinois to give her 519 digs this season. She became just the fourth Husker to have 500 digs in a season, and her 519 digs rank fifth in school history, one behind current assistant coach Kayla Banwarth (520).
• Maloney also had a career-best 10 assists to post the first double-double of her career.
• Nicklin Hames produced her 24th double-double of the season, extending her school record.
About the Huskers
• Nebraska leads the nation in opponent hitting percentage at .140. Nebraska’s opponent hitting percentage is its best mark since holding foes to .126 in the 2005 season. The best defensive team in the John Cook era was the 2004 squad that held opponents to .103 hitting for the season.
• The Huskers have held 13 teams to their season-low hitting percentage this season. The Huskers have also held 26 of their 35 opponents under .200 hitting this year, and 13 have hit below .100.
• Nebraska ranks 19th nationally in blocks per set at 2.71.
• The Huskers rank 17th in the nation in aces per set with 1.66. That is the Huskers’ highest ace total since 2007 (1.82) and is the third-highest mark by a Husker team in the rally scoring era.
• Nebraska has climbed to 17th nationally in hitting percentage with a .265 mark.
• John Cook, Nebraska: 19th year at Nebraska (560-75); 26th year overall (721-148)
• Kevin Hambly, Stanford: 2nd year at Stanford (63-5); 9th year overall (241-91)
• Nebraska is 6-8 all-time against Stanford, including a 2-2 record when the teams have met in the final four. The teams have only met once in an NCAA Final, in 2006 when the Huskers beat Stanford 3-1 in Omaha. Nebraska last played Stanford on Aug. 31, 2014 in Lincoln, a match that Stanford swept 25-17, 25-17, 25-19.
• No. 1 Stanford is 33-1 and has won 31 straight matches since a 3-2 loss at BYU on Aug. 31. The Cardinal swept BYU in Thursday’s NCAA Semifinal, 25-15, 25-15, 25-18.
• The Cardinal are led by two-time AVCA National Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer, who is averaging 4.74 kills per set and 2.32 digs per set. Second-team All-American Audriana Fitzmorris adds 2.85 kills per set on .343 hitting.
• Setter Jenna Gray, an AVCA First-Team All-American, coordinates the attack with 12.31 assist per set.
• Middle blocker Tami Alade, a second-team All-American, ranks first nationally with 1.88 blocks per set. The Cardinal as a team lead the nation with 3.45 blocks per set.
• Libero Morgan Hentz, an AVCA First-Team All-American, averages 4.82 digs per set.
Foecke, Maloney Captain Young Husker Squad
• Seniors Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney are co-captaining the 2018 Husker squad. Foecke and Maloney are the lone players on the team who have been part of both the 2015 and 2017 NCAA Championship teams, and the duo will look to become the first in program history to win three national championships.
• Foecke, an outside hitter from West Point, Iowa, was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship in both 2015 and 2017 after leading the Huskers to their fourth and fifth NCAA titles all-time.
• Foecke became the fourth player in NCAA history to twice be named the MOP – as she also earned the honor in 2015 – and she was the first to earn the honor in non-consecutive years. The other three players to earn two most outstanding player awards were: Lauren Cacciamani (Penn State, 1998 and 1999), Keao Burdine (USC, 2002 and 2003) and Megan Hodge (Penn State, 2007 and 2008).
• Foecke, who was named Big Ten Player of the Week four times this season, leads the Huskers with 3.80 kills per set and adds 2.67 digs per set and 45 service aces this season. Her current kills per set average is Nebraska’s best since 2013 (Kelsey Robinson, 4.45). Foecke was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection for the second straight season. She has 23 aces in her NCAA Tournament career, the second-highest total in Nebraska history. Only Jordan Larson (36) has more.
• Foecke had the third and fourth double-doubles of her NCAA Tournament career at the Minneapolis Regional last weekend, and she was named the most valuable player.
• An AVCA First-Team All-American, Foecke ranks third on Nebraska’s career kills list with 1,657, and her 134 career aces are tied for seventh-most in school history. Foecke also has 282 career kills all-time in the NCAA Tournament, second-most in school history behind only Sarah Pavan (304).
• Maloney, a libero from Louisville, Kentucky, was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team in 2017 and was a PrepVolleyball.com first-team All-American after serving a school-record 13 aces during the NCAA Tournament.
• In her first season as NU’s libero in 2017, Maloney played all 125 sets and averaged 3.62 digs per set and 0.95 aces per set with season totals of 452 digs and 37 aces, second-most on the team.
• Maloney was named to the All-Big Ten Team and the AVCA All-America Third Team this year. She is averaging a team-high 4.05 digs per set and had a career-high 25 digs in a win at No. 14 Creighton and again at No. 3 Minnesota.
• Maloney became the 11th Husker all-time to reach 1,000 career digs when she did so against Missouri State on Sept. 15. She now has 1,389 career digs, fifth-most in school history.
Stivrins, Sweet Stepping Up in Sophomore Seasons
• After earning All-Big Ten Freshman team honors in 2017, middle blocker Lauren Stivrins and opposite hitter Jazz Sweet are both playing bigger roles as sophomores in the program.
• Stivrins, an AVCA First-Team All-American is averaging 2.30 kills per set on a team-best .412 hitting percentage, NU’s highest individual hitting percentage since 2007 (Tracy Stalls, .473). She ranks fifth in the nation. Stivrins was also an All-Big Ten selection.
• Stivrins finished the 2017 season with 2.07 kills per set on .309 hitting and 1.02 blocks per set while playing all 125 sets. She tallied nine kills on .316 hitting against Florida in the NCAA Championship match and had seven kills and a career-high nine blocks in the NCAA Semifinal vs. Penn State.
• Stivrins picked up her first career Big Ten Player of the Week honor after becoming the third Husker in school history to post a 1.000 hitting percentage with at least 10 kills when she went 10-for-10 in a sweep of Northwestern on Sept. 28.
• Sweet also played in all 125 sets last season and had 2.22 kills per set on .273 hitting in her first year as a Husker. Sweet posted 12 kills on .375 hitting against Penn State in the NCAA Semifinal.
• This year, Sweet moved into the starting lineup for the Big Red and is averaging 2.25 kills per set.
Sun Shining for Huskers
• Nebraska added sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun to its attack in the offseason. The University of Texas transfer was a 2017 first-team All-Big 12 selection and received All-America honorable mention in her freshman season with the Longhorns. A native of Encinitas, California, Sun was the PrepVolleyball.com National Player of the Year, the Gatorade Player of the Year and the All-USA Volleyball Player of the Year as a senior at Santa Fe Christian.
• Sun made her Husker debut on Sept. 14 against New Mexico. She had 13 kills on .346 hitting with five digs, and she followed that the next day with nine kills on .368 hitting with seven digs against Missouri State.
• Sun is playing all six rotations for the Huskers and is averaging 3.20 kills and 2.67 digs per set. She has 29 service aces.
Young Huskers Making Instant Impact
• Eight of the 15 Huskers on the roster are new to the team this season, and five are freshmen.
• True freshman setter Nicklin Hames is averaging 10.41 assists and 3.35 digs per set. Her 40 service aces are second-most on the team. Hames has 24 double-doubles this season, a Nebraska school record in the rally scoring era. Hames was an All-Big Ten Freshman Team member.
• Freshman middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach was also an All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection. Schwarzenbach leads the team with 1.35 blocks per set, which ranks 25th in the nation. Schwarzenbach has 173 blocks this season, which set a new Nebraska freshman record for blocks in a season, passing Tracy Stalls (160) in 2004.
• Defensive specialist Megan Miller has played in 28 matches and is providing 1.99 digs per set and has 20 aces from the service line. Miller had a career-high 23 digs at No. 15 Michigan on Nov. 10.
• Outside hitter Capri Davis has played in 25 matches and was huge for the Huskers in a 3-2 comeback win at No. 14 Creighton early this season, providing 18 kills.
• Defensive specialist Chen Abramovich made her first collegiate appearance against Wake Forest on Aug. 31.
Smith Makes Return to Huskers
• Senior setter Brooke Smith was part of the Huskers’ 2015 NCAA Championship team and 2016 Big Ten Championship team. She played the 2017 season at Kansas State before transferring back to Nebraska for her senior season this year. Smith was cleared by the NCAA to start playing for the Huskers on Sept. 7 and has played in 12 matches, recording nine assists and one ace. Smith received Nebraska’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award this year for the second time in her career.
Huskers Played School-Record 19 Home Matches
• Nebraska played a school-record 19 regular-season home matches in 2018.
• Nine of the Huskers’ 10 non-conference matches were played at the Devaney Center this season. The only road trip was to Omaha, where NU beat No. 14 Creighton, 3-2, on Sept. 6.
• The 2018 season marked the first time the Huskers didn’t play a non-conference match outside of Nebraska since 2007.
Huskers Record 250th Consecutive Regular-Season Sellout
• Nebraska holds an NCAA women’s record 253 consecutive regular-season sellouts. The Huskers celebrated their 250th straight regular-season sellout with a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 2.
Huskers Ranked No. 6 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 99 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 485 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 540 AVCA Coaches Polls since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every poll all-time.
Cook Adds to Legacy; Joins AVCA Hall of Fame
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 19th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2018. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, nine final fours, 12 conference championships and 16 top-10 final rankings since 2000. Cook has 721 career wins and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history.
• Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .882 win percentage in that time (560-75).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 55 AVCA All-Americans and 19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a seven-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017, his first and second Big Ten honors with the Huskers in their Big Ten era (2011-present).
• Cook was named the AVCA North Region Coach of the Year in 2016, his fifth career regional coaching honor and fourth while at Nebraska.
• Cook is one of only four active coaches – and one of six all-time – to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award.
• Cook was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2017, joining former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall.
• Cook became the 10th active Division I head coach to reach 700 career wins with the Huskers’ eighth win of the season on Sept. 14 against New Mexico. Cook is one of 27 Division I coaches all-time to have reached the 700-win mark.
• Cook passed former Husker head coach and AVCA Hall of Famer Terry Pettit on the all-time career wins list earlier this season. Pettit finished his career with 694 career wins, which Cook passed on Aug. 31 when Nebraska beat Wake Forest.
Husker Fans Set Attendance Standard Once Again
• Nebraska is averaging a nation-leading 8,205 fans per match in 2018, which would be the sixth straight season the Huskers have led the nation in attendance.
• Nebraska fans led the nation in attendance for a fifth straight season in 2017, averaging 8,202 fans per match, nearly 2,000 more than any other school. In 2016, the Huskers also led the nation with an average attendance of 8,210 fans per match, a new NCAA attendance record.
• In 2013, the Huskers led the nation in attendance (8,175) for the first time since 1992, ending Hawaii’s 21-year reign as the national leader.
• The Huskers repeated as attendance champions in 2014 with 8,083 fans per match, which included a school-record 8,585 fans at the Oct. 3 win against Penn State.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top three nationally in attendance every season since 1990 (27 straight seasons).
Foecke Wins Senior CLASS Award
• Nebraska outside hitter Mikaela Foecke was selected as the 2018 Senior CLASS Award winner in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I volleyball coaches, national volleyball media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I volleyball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.
• An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Foecke is the fourth Senior CLASS Award winner from Nebraska and the second Husker to win for volleyball after Gina Mancuso took home the award in 2012.
• Foecke will go down as one of the greatest players in one of the top volleyball programs in the country. A two-time NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, Foecke was a two-time AVCA All-American and earned All-Big Ten honors all four years, including unanimous first-team honors as both a junior and senior.
• Also a standout in the classroom, Foecke has received multiple Academic All-Big Ten honors in her career for both court volleyball and beach volleyball. Majoring in animal science, she carries a 3.649 GPA is a five-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll and has received Nebraska’s High Honors (Silver) Academic Medallion twice.