Thursday, December 18, 2008

Huskers will give their all

Jordan Larson couldn't really explain her feeling after her ace served in the fifth set gave the Huskers a victory over Washington Saturday night in Seattle.

“There’s no words to describe how that felt,” Larson said Wednesday as the Huskers were preparing to play Penn State in an NCAA semifinal Thursday at the Qwest Center in Omaha. “After that last point - - physically, mentally, emotionally - - I had nothing left. People need to understand when you leave a match that’s how you should feel.”

If the Huskers beat the seemingly unbeatable Nittany Lions tonight, it will take every bit of effort and heart they have. But of course they do have one advantage they didn't have in Seattle. Tonight there well be some 18,000 fans rooting them on.

“Fans are the seventh player on the court,” senior Rachel Scwhartz said. “You still have to go in and play your butt off and play as hard as you can. But having 18,000 people behind you is never going to hurt.”

It's impossible to predict a Husker victory tonight, but one thing is for sure. They will definitely give it every ounce of effort they have. Penn State looks too good, but as volleyball legend Karch Kiraly said, if the Huskers somehow manage to win that first set, all bets are off.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Thursday, December 18, 2008 || 3 comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interesting final four

It should be an interesting night for sure Thursday when the final four kicks off at the Qwest Center in Omaha. Of course Penn State against Nebraska is the feature attraction, but the first match of the night will be interesting as well.

Texas and Stanford will meet in a rematch of an early-season match at the Qwest Center. The Cardinal took a 25-17, 25-19, 25-27, 20-25, 15-10 victory over the Longhorns in a match that lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes. Thursday's match starts at 6 p.m. with NU vs. Penn State scheduled for 8 p.m. Don't be surprised if the Huskers and Nittany Lions are a bit late getting started. Texas-Stanford could certainly play another five-setter.

It will also be interesting to see if the pro-Nebraska crowd gets behind Texas or Stanford in that match. My guess is Stanford. A lot of Nebraska fans just don't like the Longhorns in any sport.

Of course the Huskers will have the home-court type advantage against Penn State, and they'll need every bit of it. The Nittany Lions have been more dominating than any team in NCAA history. The 108-0 record in sets proves that. But we're in the final four now. That pressure to win may cause Penn State some jitters.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Tuesday, December 16, 2008 || 0 comments

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NCAA Tournament heating up

Now we get to the real deal. The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament were pretty much a formality. There was no way the Huskers weren't going to advance to regional play in Seattle. But now it gets interesting.

Michigan is no push over. The Wolverines play in a tough conference. The Big Ten has four teams still remaining in the final 16. No doubt the Wolverines won't be intimidated by the Huskers after playing No. 1 Penn State twice this season.

If NU gets past that match, the Huskers will face either Washington or Utah. Washington is obviously the favorite there, but Husker coach John Cook said that's a very interesting match up. You know Cook and the Huskers would rather face Utah in Seattle than the Huskies on their home court. That wouldn't guarantee anything, but it would certainly make the task less daunting for the Huskers.

Two years ago when the Huskers played in Gainsville, Fla., it was Minnesota that beat the host team in the regional semifinal. The Huskers survived that regional to win the school's third national title, but they fell behind the Gophers 2-0 before rallying to win in the regional final.

Last year, Nebraska had to travel to Madison, Wis. The Badgers would have been the host team playing on their home court, but Iowa State beat them in the second round. Of course that didn't help the Huskers in the end because they were knocked out by Cal in the regional final.

If the Huskers make the regional final, fans will have to stay up late Saturday night to watch on ESPNU. First serve for the regional final is set for 10:30 p.m. CDT.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Thursday, December 11, 2008 || 0 comments

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Huskers will head for Seattle

No disrespect to the other three teams coming to Lincoln this weekend for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but they aren't going to win. The three Husker seniors have never lost in the NU Coliseum or even in the state of Nebraska. They aren't about to start now.

Two wins would set up a possible match up with Kentucky in the regional semifinal. That would be interesting because the Wildcats are coached by former Nebraska assistant Craig Skinner and feature Becky Pavan, the younger sister of former NU All-American Sarah Pavan. Grand Island's Ann Armes and Brooke Bartek, who lived in Grand Island until her family moved to Lincoln during before her freshman year of high school, also play for the Wildcats.

A win in the third round and the Huskers would likely face a very good Washington team on its home court. The Huskies have won 13 of their last 14 matches since back-to-back losses to Caland Stanford in early October. This will be a tough match up for a Husker team that has battled adversity much of the season.

But who knows? You can't count John Cook out. Of course a regional win would send the Huskers to Omaha for a national semifinal match against unbeaten Penn State, a team that not only hasn't lost a match this season but hasn't even lost a set.

The Huskers would love the opportunity to play the Nittany Lions. A trip to the Final Four would be a huge accomplishment for a team that wasn't expected to be that good this season.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Wednesday, December 03, 2008 || 0 comments

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