A balanced, team effort powered the eighth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep over Fairfield on Friday night in a first-round NCAA Tournament match front of 7,920 fans at the Devaney Center.
The NU offense hit .392 in the match and was not blocked once. Eight Huskers had at least one kill, including five players with five-or-more kills. Kelsey Fien earned the start and led Nebraska with eight kills while hitting .467. Amber Rolfzen and Cecilia Hall combined for 14 kills and just one error in 27 swings in the duo's postseason debut. Rolfzen had seven kills on 14 error-free attacks, while Hall put down seven kills on 13 swings. Melanie Keil added five kills in the first NCAA Tournament action of her career, while Kelsey Robinson totaled six kills in her first postseason match as a Husker. Mary Pollmiller recorded 31 assists while leading Nebraska to its third-highest hitting percentage of the season.
Defensively, Nebraska totaled 11.0 blocks while holding Fairfield to a season-low .000 attack percentage. Fairfield managed a season-low 25 kills and committed 25 attack errors. The Huskers also out-dug the Stags, 36-31, as both Robinson (12) and freshman Justine Wong-Orantes (11) produced double-digit digs for Nebraska. The all-around defensive effort resulted in Nebraska producing its second-lowest opponent attack percentage of the year.
With the win, Nebraska (24-6) advanced to Saturday's second-round match against Oregon at 7 p.m. The match is a rematch of last year's NCAA Regional Final in Omaha, won by the Ducks, 3-1. Saturday's match will be televised live in the state of Nebraska on NET-1 and a free video stream will also be available online on the Big Ten Digital Network.
Fairfield ended its season with a 19-13 record. Marily Peizer produced a match-high 10 kills, and she was one of only two Stags to hit above .000 in the match. Carsen Mata led Fairfield with nine digs, while Camille Coffey recorded the Stags' lone ace.
In set one, Nebraska won the first three rallies but Fairfield rallied to take an 8-6 lead following four straight Husker errors. Nebraska spent a timeout to compose itself, and the Huskers responded with a 6-1 run following the timeout to build a 12-9 advantage. Fairfield stayed within three until a 9-1 run gave Nebraska a 22-12 lead. The Huskers cruised from there, closing out a 25-15 first-set victory on a Robinson kill. NU hit .423 in the first set, needing only 26 swings to register 14 kills, including five kills on seven error-free attacks from Fien. The Huskers also recorded four blocks in the set while holding Fairfield to a -.071 hitting percentage.
Set two was all Nebraska, as the Huskers rolled to a 25-9 victory. Fairfield won the first rally of the set, before NU won eight of the next 10 rallies to build an 8-3 lead. The Huskers added a 7-2 run to take a 10-point advantage at 17-7, before closing the set on an 8-1 run. Keil and Rolfzen teamed up to stuff Peizer on set point, but it was the Husker offense that shined in set two. Nebraska hit .593 in the second set, putting down 16 kills on 27 error-free swings. Rolfzen had five kills in the set, while Hall had four kills on six attacks.
Nebraska never trailed in set three, winning six of the first eight rallies to jump out to a 6-2 lead. The Stags quickly pulled within two, before the Huskers used another 6-2 spurt to build a 12-6 advantage. After using a timeout, Fairfield trimmed the lead to three at 13-10 but the Huskers quickly pushed the lead back to six. NU led by at least four the rest of the way