A stuff by Thelen and Gorrell gave Penn State its first shot at the match 26-25, but the Nittany Lions could not hold on.
CITY, Mo. - Junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke just missed a 20-20 effort with 19 kills and 19 digs to pace No. 5 seed Nebraska to a five-set win over No. 1 Penn State and send the Huskers to Saturday's national title match.
With the win the Huskers earned a spot in Saturday's NCAA championship match, where they will seek their fifth national title against the victor of Thursday's late semifinal between Stanford and Florida. Russ Rose won a huge challenge on a Nia Reed swing that deflected off Nebraska's Kelly Hunter to even things up 20-20 late in the set.
Set 4: Penn State struck early again with a 4-0 lead. The Huskers rallied with an 11-5 run, capped by three straight blocks, to grab a 20-18 lead.
Set 3: After Nebraska scored the first two points, Penn State went on a 5-0 run with three kills by Lee and a kill and a block by Washington.
A record crowd, the largest ever to watch a college volleyball match finally found their wind, and it made a sound - an exultant whoosh/roar combination when Kelly Hunter completed a play she couldn't keep in mind to end a match no one would soon forget.
The first 16 rallies of the match were thrilling back-and-forth action, setting the tone for the rest of the night.
Nebraska regained the lead with a 9-1 run where the Huskers claimed a 17-12 lead. NU had 10 aces, led by four from junior libero Kenzie Maloney. Briana Holman drilled back an overpass for a 15-12 lead.
Mata expecting Man Utd title fight despite City's record run
Guardiola goes with Ederson between the sticks, while in defence he selects Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi as centre-backs. There are a lot more games to play and a lot more points to earn.
But it was the Husker defense that foiled Penn State like none other. The crowd roared while the Nittany Lions collected themselves in a circle after just their second loss of the season.
It got better on the next rally. The Huskers also bested PSU in kills (66-62), aces (10-5), blocks (13-12) and digs (90-76).
Set 1: Nebraska gained the early edge with a 5-2 lead thanks to two kills from Foecke, but Penn State tied the set at 5-5. Then, they rallied for the last three points of the set to push the match to a fifth and deciding race to 25, which they won handily to move onto Saturday's final match.
Holman came up big for the Huskers in the first set with five kills on six attempts and no errors. Down 22-18, Penn State scored seven of the next eight to earn a set-point try at 24-23. The Huskers had three straight blocks to take its first lead of the set at 20-18. After getting off to a 4-0 start and a 9-4 lead with help from two blocks and two kills by Washington, PSU saw Nebraska surge ahead 16-14. The Nittany Lions pushed the lead to 10-4 with a 4-0 run on Abby Detering's serve. The Huskers clawed back a kill by Foecke and a block by Hunter and Holman to get within 14-12. Penn State would need to use its second timeout after the Huskers took a 21-17 lead on a Hunter kill. The Huskers fought off one set point, but a Heidi Thelen kill and a Husker hitting error gave Penn State the 26-24 win.
That set up the big finish.
The Nittany Lions took a quick 10-4 lead in Set 3 as Lee tacked on three kills and a block and Washington posted a stuff and a putaway.
The Huskers hit.249 in the match, 32 points higher than Penn State.