Despite being in different conferences and being separated by about 1,700 miles, the women’s volleyball teams at Stanford and Nebraska have a lot of history together.
Between the Cardinal and Cornhuskers are 13 national championships, with Nebraska taking five and Stanford winning eight since 1981. Twice, they've met each other with NCAA hardware on the line.
Ranked No. 1 and No. 2 this season, Nebraska and Stanford meet again on a volleyball court at the Devaney Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Before then, let’s look back at the history between these two all-time great volleyball programs.
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On a neutral court in Los Angeles, California, Stanford swept its first meeting with the Cornhuskers at the National Women’s Invitational. Back then, matches were decided in a best-two-out-of-three format, and Stanford won 15-10 and 15-6 on Nov. 5, 1976.
Stanford won the next meeting too, also played in Los Angeles, in three sets on Nov. 1, 1980. The Cardinal won again in the third meeting — this time in San Jose — in four sets in 1985.
Nebraska finally beat the Cardinal in their fourth meeting though, and did so on a very big stage. The Cornhuskers took a 3-1 (7-15, 15-2, 15-10, 15-10) victory in the national semifinals, putting Nebraska in the NCAA final for the first time in 1986. The Cornhuskers fell to Pacific though and would have to wait until 1995 for their first championship.
Nebraska and Stanford are 1-1 against each other when a national championship is on the line.
The Cornhuskers won a national title in 2006, beating Stanford 3-1 (27-30, 30-26, 30-28, 30-27) at the Qwest Center in Omaha for their third national championship. For Nebraska, Sarah Pavan and Jordan Larson combined for 41 kills in the win. Larson had a stretch of 39 consecutive swings without an error.
To take the first set, Nebraska had to overcome a 23-21 deficit. Also for Nebraska, Rachel Holloway — then a freshman — had 58 assists and five blocks, while Dani Busboom provided 21 digs.
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Stanford flipped the script when they met the Cornhuskers in the national championship game a second time though. In 2018, the Cardinal won a five-set thriller in Minneapolis (28-26, 22-25, 25-16, 15-25, 15-12) for their eighth national title.
The Cardinal had three players with double-digit kills, as Kathryn Plummer, Holly Campbell and Audriana Fitzmorris combined for 48. Morgan Hentz had 32 digs, while Jenna Gray tallied 57 assists. Meghan McClure sealed the win with a back row kill on the third match point. It was the the first five-set match in an NCAA final since 2009.