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Huskies Face Wildcats For Spot In National Championship

Apr 21, 2021

THIS WEEK IN HUSKY VOLLEYBALL

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS • FINAL FOUR
CHI Health Center Omaha Arena
Omaha, Nebraska

THURSDAY, APRIL 22 • SEMIFINAL
(6) Washington vs. (2) Kentucky, 4:00 pm PT | ESPN
(4) Texas vs. (1) Wisconsin, 6:30 pm PT | ESPN

SATURDAY, APRIL 24 • FINAL
Winner of match 1 vs. Winner of match 2, 5:00 pm PT | ESPN2

OMAHA, Neb. - The Omaha bubble has burst for all but a Final Four. Washington's resilient tournament run has brought the program back to the sport's biggest stage for the first time since 2013, and the fifth time in school history. The sixth-seeded Huskies (20-3) will have had two days to rest up from their consecutive five-set thrillers in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, and then it's back to work in the national semifinals against second-seeded Kentucky (22-1). The Dawgs and 'Cats will face off on Thursday, Apr. 22, at 4 p.m. Pacific time live on ESPN.

In the opposite semifinal, No. 4-seed Texas (26-1) faces No. 1-seed Wisconsin (18-0). That match is slated for a 6:30 p.m. Pacific start also live on ESPN. The winners will meet on Saturday, Apr. 24, for the national title at 5:00 p.m. Pacific on ESPN2.

Even with all the constant changes and uncertainty of the season, the Final Four wound up with a combination of the champions out of the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, and the SEC. Kentucky is making its first trip to the Final Four, while Wisconsin is making its fourth appearance, Washington its fifth, and Texas its 13th trip. The Huskies are seeking their second NCAA title, having won back in 2005. Texas won in 1988 and 2012, while Kentucky and Wisconsin would be first-time winners.

Due to Covid-19 protocols, the entire volleyball championship is being held in Omaha, Nebraska. For the first rounds through the round of 16, the venue was the CHI Health Center Omaha Convention Center. The Elite Eight matches shifted next door to the CHI Health Center Omaha Arena.

When the Huskies won the 2005 NCAA title, they did it without dropping a set, the first team to do that for six rounds. This year the Huskies are happily putting in overtime, going five sets in all three wins so far. In the second round against Dayton, UW had match point in the third set but the Flyers rallied and forced a fifth set, that was tied at 11-11 before the Huskies won the final four points. In the round of 16 against No. 11 Louisville, the Huskies were on the rocks after the Cardinals raced to a 7-1 lead in the fifth set, and the gap was still six at 11-5, when Maria Bogomolova helped serve a 7-0 run that led to an incredible 15-13 win. Then after an extremely quick turnaround, half a day later the Huskies were down two sets to none against Pittsburgh, but battled all the way back to win, 15-9.

This is Washington's 19th-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, which is now the fifth-longest active streak in the NCAA and the longest in the Pac-12. The Huskies won the Pac-12 title for the sixth time in program history, and the third time under sixth-year Head Coach Keegan Cook. Ella May Powell was named Pac-12 Setter of the Year, while Powell, Samantha Drechsel, and Claire Hoffman were all named All-Pac-12, with Lauren Sanders and Marin Grote earning honorable mention.