The fifth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team will face No. 1 seed Penn State at 6 p.m. (CT) on Thursday in the first of two NCAA Semifinals at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Nebraska was the first team to punch its ticket to Kansas City after the Huskers defeated fourth-seeded Kentucky, 3-1, on the Wildcats’ home court last Saturday. NU, which lost three All-Americans from last year’s squad, has advanced to three consecutive NCAA Semifinals for the first time in program history. Senior setter Kelly Hunter talks about how this year came together.
The Huskers are making their 14th all-time semifinal appearance, a total that ranks second in NCAA history. Nebraska owns a 7-6 record in the NCAA Semifinals, and the Huskers have won four national titles. John Cook has won three national championships at Nebraska, and he is coaching a Husker team in the NCAA Semifinals for the eighth time in his 18 seasons. NU’s most recent national title came in 2015, when the Huskers also won the Lexington Regional. The Huskers face both a familiar foe and a familiar path in Kansas City. Nebraska will face fellow Big Ten opponent Penn State (33-1) on Thursday. The Huskers handed the Nittany Lions their only loss this season on Sept. 22 in University Park, and Nebraska also eliminated Penn State from the 2016 NCAA Tournament with a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the regional semifinal. For the second straight season, Nebraska will face a rematch with a semifinal opponent who the Huskers beat during the regular season and eliminated from the previous year’s NCAA Tournament. Last year in Columbus, Nebraska was swept by Texas in its semifinal match after sweeping the Longhorns during the regular season and topping Texas in the 2015 NCAA Final.