Propelled by a sellout crowd of nearly 8,000, No. 7 Nebraska sped past No. 24 Missouri in a 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-18) sweep in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night. The Tigers finished their 2018 campaign with a 24-8 overall record (13-5 Southeastern Conference) after their 15th postseason appearance.
Missouri recorded 38 kills on a .216 hitting percentage but was outmatched by Nebraskaís 46 kills on .384 hitting. Leketor Member-Meneh led the Missouri offense with 11 kills, and Kylie Deberg followed with 10. In her final collegiate match, senior Alyssa Munlyn tallied seven kills on .400 hitting.
The Nebraska attack was paced by Mikaela Foecke, who racked up 16 kills on .667 hitting with no errors. Lexi Sun contributed 11 kills, while Jazz Sweet and Lauren Stivrins recorded eight apiece. The five-time NCAA champion Huskers (26-6, 15-5 Big Ten) totaled eight errors to Missouriís 16, as well as seven aces to just one from the Tigers.
Missouri went up 3-0 in a solid start to the opening set, but the Huskers quickly recovered and built a comfortable lead. A handful of blocks by Nebraskaís Strivins and Nicklin Hames sparked momentum for the home team and took a toll on the confidence of the Tiger hitters. After pulling away to a 12-5 advantage, the Huskers maintained plenty of separation on their way to a 25-14 first-set victory.
In set two, the Tigers regrouped and produced a much closer contest. Nebraska built a 15-10 lead, but Missouri reduced the deficit to 18-17. The Husker offense stepped up, however, as three kills by Sun late in the set swung the momentum in the home teamís favor. Nebraska managed to fend off the Tigers with a 25-22 second-set triumph, putting them up 2-0.
Nebraska jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the third set, and Missouri was unable to ever fully catch up. After the Tigers clawed back to 14-10, the teams consecutively traded off kills all the way to 19-14. But from there, the Huskers took over once again, rattling off three more kills that were followed by a Missouri error. The Tigers had some offensive success late in the set, but Nebraska ultimately came out on top 25-18 to complete the sweep and end Missouriís season.
Next weekend, the Huskers will face Kentucky in the Round of 16. Tiger fans will see a slew of familiar faces on the court next season, as Missouri is set to lose just two seniors: Munlyn and Paige Perego.
Supervising editor is Theo DeRosa.