Nebraska will play Oregon in NCAA regional final

AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska moved within a win of the NCAA volleyball tournament's final four with a surprisingly easy victory over Washington at the Omaha Regional on Friday night.

Gina Mancuso had 14 kills and Morgan Broekhuis and Hannah Werth added nine apiece in the three-set sweep.

The fourth-seeded Cornhuskers (26-6) will play Saturday night against No. 5 Oregon (28-4), with the winner advancing to the national semifinals next week in Louisville, Ky. The Ducks moved on with a four-set win over BYU.

Nebraska's match lacked the theater of its previous meetings with the Huskies.

The Huskies swept Nebraska in the 2005 national championship match; the Huskers rallied to knock out Washington in the 2008 regional finals; and the Huskies prevailed in a tense regional final in 2010 that ended with coaches John Cook of Nebraska and Jim McLaughlin of Washington having to be separated.

"For those of us who were there in 2010, that feeling was still there, and we had a lot of motivation to come out and beat Washington," Mancuso said. "I think we played great, and I think our energy level was definitely there, and revenge played into that."

The Huskers won by scores of 25-14, 25-21, 25-23.

Nebraska broke a 22 tie in the third set with a Mancuso kill and a Washington net violation. After the Huskies' Krista Vansant got a kill off a Nebraska fingertip, Broekhuis pounded the game-winner.

"At this point, it doesn't matter if you play your best or your worst, you've just got to win," Cook said. "It's a matter of win and advance so we can keep playing. We're not ready to take off our jerseys."

Vansant led Washington with 11 kills. The 13th-seeded Huskies (25-7) hit just .130.

"Preparation is something very important to us," McLaughlin said. "I have to look at how we did things and what we can do different. We'll get another chance at this. We'll keep knocking on the door and it will open."

Earlier, Liz Brenner pounded 26 kills and Oregon defeated BYU 25-23, 25-21, 22-25, 25-12.

The Ducks set a school record for wins in a season and reached a regional final for the first time in 10 tournament appearances.

Pac 12 player of the year Alaina Bergsma had 17 kills, Ariana Williams 13 and Katherine Fischer 12 for the Ducks, who were playing BYU for the first time since 1988. Lauren Plum had 68 set assists.

"This is hard work and this has been done by kids that are willing to work as hard as anybody in the country, and they've proved that because we haven't had a top-five recruiting class," Oregon coach Jim Moore said. "But I'll still take my kids against anybody."

Jennifer Hamson, the West Coast Conference player of the year, led the 12th-seeded Cougars (28-4) with 18 kills. BYU, which came into the match second nationally in hitting (.313), hit just .259 for the match and .081 in the final set.

The Ducks had won 17 straight sets before BYU took the third. Tia Withers' service ace and Kathryn LeCheminant's kill put the Cougars up 19-12, but the Ducks scored nine of the next 12 points to cut it to 22-21. The 6-foot-7 Hamson had kills on three of the next four points to send it to a fourth set.

Fischer, hitting just .100 with six kills through three sets, had four as Oregon broke out to a 9-2 lead in the fourth. BYU got no closer than five points the rest of the way, with Brenner ending the match with three big swings.

"Their serving got us on our heels collectively, so that's what it came down to," BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I said before the match, it was going to come down to serve and pass. If you look at it, we're the one and two offensive teams in the country, and so they served better than we could to get us out of sync and out of rhythm. That was what came back to hurt us in the end."


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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