Nebraska 3, Santa Clara 0Dec. 15, 2005

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Top-seeded Nebraska and Washington advanced to the NCAA women's volleyball championship by sweeping semifinal matches Thursday night.

The Cornhuskers (33-1) defeated unseeded Santa Clara, blocking 12 kill attempts in 30-24, 30-19, 30-21 victory at the Alamodome.

The third-seeded Huskies defeated Tennessee 30-25, 30-19, 30-21, led by Christal Morrison and Brie Hagerty. Morrison, the MVP of the College Station regional, had 18 kills and Hagerty had 16.

The title match is Saturday night.

Match Facts
MATCH TIME: total 1 hour, 32 minutes; 1st game 0:27; 2nd game 0:26; 3rd game 0:24
GAME 1: 0 ties, 0 lead changes; NU largest lead 6 (4x, last 30-24); SCU largest lead n/a
GAME 2: 0 ties, 0 lead changes; NU largest lead 11 (4x, last 30-19); SCU largest lead n/a
GAME 3: 3 ties, 1 lead change; NU largest lead 11 (5x, last 27-16); SCU largest lead 2 (4-2)

Nebraska
Head coach John Cook
Opening Summary
We started out a little shaky, but we did really well. We made a lot
of adjustments as the match went on and took Santa Clara out of the
match. Our attack was very good tonight. I think we only had seven
attack errors. I am very pleased. Santa Clara has been a Cinderella
team that mentally was going for broke, and I thought our team did a
really good job of handling it and executing and taking care of
business.

Talk about the three First Team All-Americans and them playing up to
the billing
Thats why theyre all-americans. When it is showtime, the great
players step up and thats what this tournament down here is all about
is the great players stepping up, and I think Saturday night, you are
going to see a lot of great players step on both sides. It will be
exciting to watch.

During the second game, the team looked different. Was that something
that was planned or adjustment
Head coach John Cook
It was just certain match-ups we wanted and that we liked, we had it
in the first game and wanted to keep in the second.

Any other way of this thing playing out going up against Washington for
the championship
Head coach John Cook
It is great to see two of the top teams play in the finals. I think
that is going to be a great story for all of you. I think we have
played about every top ten team except Washington, so this will be a
great challenge for us, and if we get it done Saturday night well
prove weve beaten everybody in the top ten. Washington is a great team
and I think it is going to be a great finish to the college volleyball
season to see Nebraska and Washington play.

Talk about the match you had tonight and the excitement level
Sarah Pavan, RS, So.
Watching video, theyre a really stacked team, and we knew what we had
to do tonight.

Do you look at Washington any differently? You two have been at the top
all year, have they kind of stood out in your mind at all?
Christina Houghtelling, OH, Jr.
Washington has a lot of great players, theyre balanced, it is just
another game. One game left, and nothing left to lose.


With the big hitters getting a lot of attention with the offense you
run, talk about the setters and how Maggie (Griffin) fits into the
system
Head coach John Cook
Well Maggie has allowed us to run the two setter system, so we have to
have two really good setters to be able to do that. You can imagine
setting a dinner table with Dani (Mancuso), and has done a really great
job. If you saw her in the first match of the year til tonight, her
improvement has been tremendous. Maggie is a winner. She has won
championships at every level. She is a competitor and she brings that
dimension to our team on the court as well.

Talk about your offensive performance tonight
Melissa Elmer
We liked the match up in the middle with one of our sets and we knew
it was going to be successful if we execute it well, especially in
transition. Me and Maggie has been connecting great on that set so it
really worked for us tonight.

Team Notes
Nebraska has not lost a game in the NCAA tournament, having won 15 straight games dating back to its regular-season finale on Nov. 26.
Nebraska has now swept 26 of its 34 opponents this season.
Nebraska improved to 13-1 against ranked opponents in 2005.
Nebraska improved to 16-3 all-time versus West Coast Conference foes.
Nebraska improved to 6-0 all-time against Santa Clara.
Nebraska ranks second all-time in NCAA tournament winning percentage (64-21, .753).
Nebraska improved to 5-4 all-time in national semifinal matches. The Huskers were making their first semifinal appearance since 2001.
Nebraskas win over Santa Clara was the Huskers 64th all-time in the NCAA tournamentsecond only to Stanford (77).
Nebraska has out-hit all 34 opponents this season.
Nebraskas hitting percentage of .449 was the Huskers second highest this season (.482, 11/23 vs Colorado).
Nebraskas 33 wins on the season ties the Huskers with Florida and Ohio for most victories in 2005.
Nebraska has now held 28 of its 34 opponents to under a .200 hitting percentage (Santa Clara .145).
Nebraska will be looking to win its third national championship when the Huskers meet Washington on Saturday. NU won titles in 1995 and 2000.
Nebraska is making its 24th appearance in the NCAA tournament, tied for fourth all time in championship history.
An estimated crowd of 2,500 fans watched Fridays national semifinal match at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on the Nebraska campus in Lincoln.

Individual Notes
Senior middle blocker Melissa Elmer led Nebraska in kills (13) for the first time this season.
Elmers hitting percentage of .647 (13 kills-2 errors-17 attempts) ranked tied for fourth all-time in Nebraska postseason history.
Elmer posted a team-high seven blocks on the night. She has now led or tied for the team lead in blocks in 24 of the Huskers 34 matches.
Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Pavan tallied double-figure kills (11) in her 10th straight match and for the 29th time this season.

Santa Clara

Head Coach Jon Wallace:


On being one of the teams in the final four
We are very happy to be here. For two reasons, first, its obviously a great event and great for the players. Secondly, we want to compete again. We feel have played well and we are doing all the things we need to do. We feel confident and we just want to go play. We want to get out tomorrow night, today. We are happy that we are finally here and get to play another match tomorrow night. I will say that the three players up here have had an amazing tournament so far. Without Caroline Walters, last weekend digging the ball that she did and the Cassie and Kim playing the way that they played, we wouldnt be here. Some amazing athletes up here that have gone way beyond maybe my expectations as being great athletes, ball players to bring the team together to get here.

On the challenges the team faced in mid-November after losing three straight matches
My athletic director told me after beating Stanford, you have to be happy for Whitney. What do you mean for Whitney? When we went to San Diego, that was the same day that my daughter, Whitney was born. So, I missed that trip, so ever since that trip, we lost three matches so we blamed my daughter Whitney on the losses. So, after we won the Stanford match, the athletic director said, coach you finally got the monkey off your back. Eight months ago we set our sights on winning the conference. Its really hard these days to depict what you want to do in the NCAA tournament based on your draw especially in our west coast region when there are so many strong teams you cant say, I want to be in the elite eight. You can get up to the national champion in the second round, so we just wanted to win our conference. And these girls put everything into winning the conference. They stayed and worked in the summer time, they put in the extra hours, they are dedicated and they did every necessary. We clinched the conference too early. Lost our focus and started not to play great volleyball. So the best thing that happened to us before the tournament was that we had two weeks off prior to the tournament and our last regular season match. So we went back to doing what we did in double-days, we went back to re-focus as a group, we went back to make them confident and strong and what we have been doing all year. We sat in a room and said what do you want to do? They said, Final Four or nothing. That was our goal. Set your goal and get out there and do it. Since that day, coaching has been easy. I walk into the gym they are ready to go, I call a time-out and they know what to do.

On playing Nebraska in 02 and 03 and did you ever expect to play them in a Final Four
Back in 02, either at the beginning or after that season, we visited some schools like Nebraska we realized this was volleyball, this is what it is all about, big time is awesome. Playing in front of big crowds and great competition, this is what we want to be a part of. This is what I want to make Santa Clara. That year, we wrote a three year plan. And in the third year of the plan, it was to be in the final four. It came true, amazingly it came true. A lot of luck in there, a lot of hard work but by going there it is such a great thing playing. The fans are fantastic on both sides, that is what we want our program to be. That is where I want my program to be and that is where the girls at Santa Clara want to go. We got to go where we wanted to go, thats the next level and now we are because of their hard work and dedication. And the experiences of playing at Nebraska and we went to Hawaii as well.

On being the Cinderella team this year
Love it. We are unranked and to my knowledge, the only unranked team to reach it to the NCAA semifinals. I we are a small school and yeah, sure we will wear that slipper. The thing is we are happy to be here, but we are not done. We are really excited about playing tomorrow night.

On comparing the style of play from Nebraska compared to the PAC-10


I think that with Stanford injuries, they became a two player team with Kristin Richards and Foluke Akinradewo and Arizona with Kim Glass and Jennifer Abernathy, they are really great players and great all-Americans. I think with Nebraska, you are going to get four kids on the court at once. They are a lot more balanced. Nebraska will have four of the great players on the court at one time so it will be really tough to pick our battles and guess to try to find out where they put the ball. The key is to get them to feel the pressure and more predictable.

Kim McGiven, Outside Hitter


On teams intensity in the regional final against Arizona and how it will be carried to the next match
The match was a lot of fun for us. Our team throughout the tournament and the entire season has had the ability to battle. I think we are great when we face adversity. We are great when we get into game five; we are great when we get down we know how to fight back. I think that is a lot of what playing against great athletes like Kim Glass, and playing great teams like Stanford and University of Arizona it has helped prepare us for this.

Caroline Walters, Libero


On the outlook of playing Nebraska
We have always been looked at as the underdog in the past few games and have got past that expectation. We heard people saying that Stanford would win 3-0 and provide them wrong. We are just so excited to be here and hope to prove everyone wrong again against Nebraska.

Cassie Perret, Opposite Hitter


On the outlook of playing Nebraska
When we play, we have to play Bronco volleyball. Each opponent is excellent in the NCAAs and when we go out there we just have to look at them as another opponent because it is about playing our volleyball and playing our style and winning. Its not about being intimidated.

On turning point that turned the unexpected into the expected
I think it started from the beginning. We set the goal last year to win, and we focused throughout the entire summer, and the pre-season. I think our level of play was just awesome throughout the season. Yeah, we maybe had a few bumps in November. The entire season was a good indication of how far we could go and expect from the team.

Team Notes
Santa Clara fell to 6-3 versus ranked opponents in 2005.
Santa Clara fell to 2-1 versus top-10 opponents in 2005.
Santa Clara, making its 10th appearance in the NCAA tournament, fell to 6-10 all-time in tournament matches.
Santa Clara fell to 6-10 all-time versus Big 12 opponents.
Santa Clara fell to 0-6 all-time versus Nebraska.
Santa Clara was swept for the first time this season and for just the fifth time in the last three years.
Santa Claras two blocks tied for the Broncos lowest output this season (10/7 vs Gonzaga).
Santa Clara was held to a .145 attack percentage in the match, its second lowest percentage of the season. It also marked just the fifth time that the Broncos had been held under .200 this year.
Santa Clara took its first lead of the match when it scored the first point of game three.
Santa Clara was making its first national semifinal appearance in school history.
Santa Clara was the first unseeded team to make it to the national semifinals.

Individual Notes
Sophomore middle blocker Anna Cmaylos team-high 10 kills marked the 19th time this season that she has posted double-figure kills.
Cmaylo led or tied for the team lead in kills (10) for the sixth time this season.
Sophomore libero Caroline Walters posted her 21st consecutive double-figure dig performance (12) and her 29th of the season.