In the BYU Cougars tenth appearance in the Women's Volleyball Regional Finals, the Cougars looked to take out the 14th seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers. With a win the Cougars would make it to the National Semi-finals, volleyballs equivalent to the final four, taking on the 2nd seeded Texas Longhorns. The Cougars have only been to the final four one other time, in 1993, and were looking to continue their special season.
BYU and Nebraska went head to head as they fought for position in the national semi-finals next week. Both teams came in hungry and wanting to start the match off with a win, and neither team looked to give up ground. The set went back and forth with a number of lead changes before the Cougars started to pull away late with a 5-1 run and took the set 25-21. The Cougars again used blocking to help pull away and ended with 14 kills in the set.
Once again the teams continued to battle with each other as BYU tried to set the tone, and Nebraska not wanting to fall behind two sets to one. Nebraska started off strong with a 3-1 lead but the Cougars rallied back and took the lead with another 5-1 run. BYU would hold the lead, and increase it to four, at 14-10. Nebraska quickly came back however with a 4-0 run to tie the game. After trading points the Huskers finally regained the lead at 17-16 but gave it right back on a Cougars 4-0 run for a Cougars lead at 20-17. Similar to the first set the Cougars again tried to pull away late as they held a four point lead into set point. Fittingly a Cougar block finished off the set as BYU won set two 25-20.
Both teams came out of the intermission energized and ready to make a statement. The teams continued to trade incredible rallies as they blocked, hit, and dove their way across the court. BYU would take the early lead at 4-2 but Nebraska would quickly tie the set at five. The teams traded points as neither team could find an advantage until a 2-0 run gave the Huskers the lead at 9-8. Sensing their chance at a sweep beginning to slip away, the Cougars refocused and went on a 4-0 run to take a three point lead at 14-11, forcing a Huskers timeout. Nebraska scored first out of the timeout but after an amazing save on the defensive side was wasted, BYU continued to apply pressure. BYU would increase their lead to five at 19-14 forcing yet another timeout and the Huskers hopes began to fade. The Cougars missed a golden chance to extend their lead but a service error ended their run and gave the momentum back to the Huskers. With a 20-17 lead the Cougars called a timeout of their own as they hoped to end the Nebraska comeback, but the Cornhuskers continued to chip away as they came back within two. BYU would gain back the momentum on a controversial touch call and lead 22-18 before trading points yet again. BYU would just miss an ace on match point at 24-21, but would finish the job with a strong kill to win 25-21.
BYU was led by Alohi Robins-Hardy with 33 assists and 15 digs while Alexa Gray finished with 11 kills, including the match winner.
BYU will next take on the Texas Longhorns on Thursday, December 18th at 5pm MST on ESPN2 in Oklahoma City.