LISTEN: From Tampa, hear the latest on Husker volleyball’s trek to the national championship game

Dec. 8, 2023, 4 p.m. ·

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Following a dominating victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday, the Nebraska volleyball team has earned a place in the National Championship match.

The Huskers will take on Texas on Sunday at 2 p.m. The match will air on ABC. It’s the first college volleyball game broadcast on the network.

Nebraska, who is seeking its sixth national title, is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament after an impressive regular season and postseason run.

Nebraska Public Media Sports Producer Brock Lohr is in Tampa covering the Huskers run through the NCAA tournament. He spoke with Nebraska Public Media Reporter Aaron Bonderson about the energy following the big win over Pitt, and what to expect when the Huskers take on the Longhorns.

Below is a transcript of that conversation:

AARON BONDERSON, NEBRASKA PUBLIC MEDIA REPORTER: What was the atmosphere like inside the arena for the Husker volleyball win over Pitt?

BROCK LOHR, NEBRASKA PUBLIC MEDIA SPORTS PRODUCER: First off, just the arrival of the bus, man, the fans were just incredible. Husker Nation out-numbered all three of the other schools four-to-one. So they definitely showed up. When Nebraska pulled in for the bus's arrival, they were greeted by a sea of red. There were just so many people there that they were spilling over onto the sidewalks in the streets. And so the police officers were struggling to keep everyone back from the sidewalks.

And just the look on the girls, the little girls faces, it was just incredible. They look up so much to these role models that they have for the Nebraska team. And they're just in shock when they get to see them come through the line. They're greeting rockstars. And so it's just complete amazement on everyone's faces.

And I think the players were excited to see so many people. It probably felt like a home match for them, just so much excitement. It probably felt like they were playing in Devaney. So it's just awesome to see the impact that the volleyball program is having on the next generation. The Amalie Arena was packed with 19,598 people. It was a new indoor attendance record. So just continuing to see this trend of Huskers breaking more records.

BONDERSON: How did the players react after the win? Was it kind of business-like or were they pretty celebratory?

LOHR: Initially, you saw the celebration, the dogpile on the court. But last night versus Pitt, they were dialed in. It was a block party. They had 15 blocks and 10 for Bekka Allick. And Harper Murray led all attacks with 13 kills. They really served tough and got positive touches at the net to slow down the Pitt attack.

So we're used to seeing the Huskers go up 2-0. And they had that typical third-set lull. But they just hammered on the gas and they hit .407 in that final set to win 25-17, and make it back to the championship for the 11th time in program history. So it was business-like from a sense that they know that they have one more goal left to achieve. And they're ready for, I think, Texas on Sunday.

BONDERSON: Texas and Nebraska have a lot of history. But what can we expect from the matchup on the court on Sunday for the championship match? And then also kind of a little bit of the emotions behind the scenes, what can we expect from that as well?

LOHR: It's going to be interesting because Texas is the defending national champion. But both of these teams are being led by freshmen setters. And so, it's pretty unheard of to have a freshman setter make it to the national championship and you're gonna have a freshman setter win a national championship.

I was really impressed with Texas in the way that they just demoralized Wisconsin. There were some leads in that match that — you just don't see a Wisconsin team down 18-5. And this is a really emotional game. And it's all about momentum. And it seemed like Texas just really had control of what they were doing. For Nebraska to sweep in the national semifinal and get to the championship, it's just kind of shocking to see how well they played. And you're getting two teams that are playing at the pinnacle. So it's nice to have this matchup where there's a lot of history. This is a rematch of the 2015 National Championship.

And these four freshmen are really playing up to their potential and leading Nebraska. It's fun to watch. And we're going to see another big crowd, and I'm sure more people are getting on flights to head this way. So it's just a lot of fun.

BONDERSON: There have been a lot of memorable teams in Husker volleyball history. But if this team wins, would this go down as the most memorable ever?

LOHR: In my eyes, yes. I don't think you can really put into words what this season means. It's historic to start the way that we did with 92,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and just everything that's happened this year. It's hard to explain. I think this goes down as one of the best teams, too — since 1986 there's not been a national champion that has had zero seniors. And to be able to do that, with this so-called rebuilding year would be shocking. And you know, it really sets them up for the future.

But it's a team that nobody expected to be here and here they are again. And John Cook has this magical formula to get players ready — to get ready for big championship matches.

And so, yeah, in my eyes, this would be the most memorable and fun team to ever win the championship.

BONDERSON: Certainly one of the most unexpected, dominant teams we've seen in a while. Thanks for your time.

LOHR: Yeah, absolutely.