Stanford, Nebraska Advance To NCAA Volleyball Final

Dec. 14, 2006

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -Tracy Stalls had 13 kills in the final two games to help Nebraska advance to the NCAA volleyball championship match with a 3-1 comeback victory over UCLA on Thursday night.

Sarah Pavan had 22 kills and four aces for the Cornhuskers, who beat the Bruins 23-30, 30-28, 30-23, 30-28 to set up a title match Saturday night against Stanford. The Cardinal beat Washington 30-12, 30-25, 30-15 in the second semifinal.

'As the match wore on, we served a little less tough, and Nebraska - especially Sarah Pavan - notched up their serving,' UCLA coach Andy Banachowski said.

The Cornhuskers (32-1) were down 22-21 in the fourth game, but Stalls had kills on three of the next four points and Sarah Pavan added an ace, giving Nebraska a 25-22 advantage. The Bruins cut it to 29-28 before Jordan Larson ended the match with a kill.

UCLA (33-4) never trailed in the first game. The Bruins used a 7-0 run to take a 26-17 lead, keyed by four Nebraska errors. Down 28-18, the Cornhuskers scored four straight points to make it 29-22, but couldn't get closer.

'I'm not sure we could have played any worse,' Nebraska coach John Cook said.

Nebraska led 21-18 in the second game, but UCLA tied it at 22 on Ali Daley's kill. Rachel Holloway and Kori Cooper teamed up for a block to give Nebraska a 29-28 lead and UCLA's Nellie Spicer was called for an illegal lift, giving the Cornhuskers the game.

In the third game, the Cornhuskers rattled off 10 straight points to take a 23-13 lead. Stalls had three kills and two block assists during that stretch, while Pavan added two aces. UCLA pulled to 27-22, but Nebraska won three of the next four points to take a 2-1 match lead.

'She (Stalls) did the things we saw on tape, but they used her a little bit more,' Banachowski said. 'She had a great match, and we weren't able to contain her.'

In the second semifinal, Foluke Akinradewo had 15 kills for Stanford (30-3).

'You can't expect dominance or anything,' Stanford coach John Dunning said. 'We served well, we passed well and so our block could take away part of the court.'

Washington had 24 kills and 24 hitting errors.

'We were way below our standard. It's the key to playing good volleyball,' Washington coach Jim McLaughlin said.

The Cardinal had seven blocks in the first game, holding Washington (29-5) to six kills in 34 attempts. The Huskies made 16 errors in the game, while Stanford had six.

Stanford took a 14-3 lead in the third game and eventually led 27-10. Six of Washington's first 11 points were on Stanford service errors.

The crowd of more than 17,000 for the Nebraska-UCLA match was the largest to ever watch a college volleyball match. The Cornhuskers play their home games in Lincoln, Neb., about 60 miles from Omaha.

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