The fourth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team (25-6) closed out the Northern Iowa Panthers in a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-16, 25-21) sweep on Friday night at the NU Coliseum to punch its ticket to the Omaha Regional next weekend. Nebraska has now advanced to the Sweet 16 in 29 of their 31 all-time trips to the postseason.
The Huskers recorded their fourth sweep in the last five matches in front of 4,184 roaring fans in attendance for Nebraska’s final match at the Coliseum.
Morgan Broekhuis led the Huskers on the night with 10 kills on 16 swings for a .625 hitting percentage. Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth each had nine kills, while Hayley Thramer recorded eight. Meghan Haggerty notched a career-high four aces on the night, while Lara Dykstra led Nebraska defensively with 13 digs.
The Huskers hit .371 as a team, while holding Northern Iowa to a .191 hitting percentage. NU out-blocked UNI 5-4 and held a 41-38 advantage in team digs.
Northern Iowa came out on fire in the first set, taking a 7-4 lead over Nebraska. An ace by Haggerty cut their lead to 10-8, but the Panthers then took a 16-14 lead. Nebraska earned its first lead of the night on an error by UNI, taking an 18-17 advantage. A pair of 2-0 runs by Nebraska and a monstrous kill by Werth topped off a long rally and put the Huskers up 25-21 in the first set and up 1-0 in the match.
Thramer and Haggerty both had four kills in the first set, while Cook tabbed 15 assists. Nebraska hit .289 in the set, while Northern Iowa hit .128. Both teams totaled two team blocks in the set.
The Huskers used the momentum from the end of the first set to take an 8-5 lead in the second set following another ace from Haggerty. Thramer came on strong for the Huskers, notching two kills and a double-stuff block with Mancuso to make it 11-6, Huskers. Northern Iowa started to make a run, notching three consecutive points as Nebraska was forced to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Broekhuis tallied two kills, helping Nebraska to the 25-16 second-set win.
Broekhuis had four kills in the set, while Mancuso, Thramer and Werth all had three. Cook notched 13 assists as Nebraska hit .607 in the set and had one team block.
Nebraska came out in the third set and took a 4-1 lead over the Panthers, but UNI came fighting back to take a 9-7 lead. The Huskers would string together a 6-0 run to take a 13-9 advantage, punctuated by a kill from Thramer as Northern Iowa used its final timeout. A kill by Werth made it 19-15, Nebraska, while the Huskers used a kill from Mancuso to take the third set 25-21 and sweep Northern Iowa.
Mancuso and Werth both had four kills in the final set, while Cook notched 14 assists. Nebraska hit. 282 in the set and had two team blocks.
With the win, the Huskers advance to the Omaha Regional and will face the winner of the first and second rounds in Seattle, Wash.