The nation’s No. 1 blocking team is now a member of college volleyball’s Final Four.
Unseeded BYU, which might stand for Block You Unceasingly, used its commanding blocking skills to barge into the NCAA Final Four by knocking out 14th-seeded Nebraska 3-0 in a regional final Saturday night in front of 4,885 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
With the 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 win, Brigham Young (29-4) advances to a national semifinal Thursday against No. 2 seed Texas in Oklahoma City. Top-seeded Stanford will play defending NCAA champ Penn State in the other semifinal.
It is the first trip to the Final Four for BYU since 1993. Nebraska, which upset third-seeded Washington 3-1 in a regional semifinal Friday night, finished 23-10.
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After posting 16 blocks in its semifinal win over Florida State, BYU outblocked Nebraska 12-8 and held Nebraska to .173 hitting. Amber Rolfzen led Nebraska with 11 kills.
“We definitely lost the serve-and-pass battle,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “They were pressuring us the whole time and never let up. … They’re the best blocking team in the nation, and we played into that.”
How vital was BYU’s block?
“Nebraska was trying to catch our hands, reaching over, and they caught us a bunch,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I told our girls, just stick with it. These girls are physical, and that, I think, changed some of their shots. They started to roll shots, started to hit some out.”
BYU’s 6-foot-7 Jennifer Hamson was named the regional’s most outstanding player.
• Washington has hosted four NCAA regionals (round of 16 and elite eight matches) in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and this year. This marked the first time a UW team did not advance to a regional final on its home court.
• Stanford (33-1) defeated eighth-seeded Florida 3-0 in Ames, Iowa, to reach the Final Four, the only Pac-12 team (of five) to survive the round of 16. In Minneapolis, No. 2 seed Texas (27-2) defeated seventh-seeded North Carolina 3-1. In a rematch of last year’s NCAA final at KeyArena, Penn State (34-3) again took down Wisconsin 3-1, this time in Louisville.