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Huskers Earn No. 10 Seed, Will Face Campbell in First Round of NCAA Tournament

November 28, 2021

The NCAA Tournament is returning to Lincoln as the Huskers will host first- and second-round matches as the No. 10 seed.

Nebraska (21-7) will face Campbell in the first round at the Devaney Center at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“I think anytime that we get to play at home, it’s a blessing,” Lauren Stivrins said. “I think this team is really excited and for a lot of them, it’s their first time experiencing a tournament, so to have it here with our home crowd is going to be such an advantage for us and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The Fighting Camels (21-9) finished second in the Big South but knocked off the regular season champion, High Point, in the conference tournament final to punch their ticket.

After playing last year’s tournament in Omaha, mostly without fans, the Huskers’ captains said they are excited to experience a mostly normal tournament environment this season.

“Thankful for that,” Nicklin Hames said. “That was definitely a different experience, and I feel like a lot of teams last year kind of got robbed on the whole experience of it. So I’m excited that it’s finally back to normal and we can actually have fans and it’s not going to kind of feel like a high school game.”

Florida State and Kansas State will face off in the other match at the Devaney Center at 4:30 p.m. The winners will advance to the second round match at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Nebraska beat Kansas State 3-1 in the Husker Invitational during the first weekend of the season.

“I had no expectations going into this,” Coach John Cook said. “The only comments I have is we have an interesting, fun first and second round here. K-State coming up here, that’s always an adventure. I’m still remembering 2011, what happened.”

In 2011, the unseeded Wildcats beat the No. 2 Huskers in five sets in the second round. This year, the Wildcats were one of the last four teams in according to the selection show telecast.

Former Husker Dani Busboom Kelly’s undefeated Louisville Cardinals earned the No. 1 overall seed. Last year’s national runner-up, Texas, earned the No. 2 seed. Should seeds hold, the Huskers will head to the Longhorns’ region for the second weekend. Texas ended Nebraska’s season in the regional final round last spring.

“I think we’ve grown up a lot in this past year,” Stivrins said. “I know that the last time we played them is definitely not our best outing and everyone can say that with full confidence. So we’re definitely excited for another matchup with them and to hopefully get some redemption.”

The other national seeds in the Texas region are No. 7 Kentucky, the SEC champion and reigning national campion coached by former Husker assistant Craig Skinner, and No. 15 Washington, the Pac-12 champion.

The Huskers are one of five Big Ten who will host the first weekend. No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 Purdue, No. 9 Ohio State and No. 12 Minnesota will also open the tournament at home.

Penn State, Michigan and Illinois (coached by former Nebraska assistant Chris Tamas) also qualified for the tournament, as did Nebraska nonconference opponents Creighton (No. 14 seed), Stanford, Utah and Colgate. Creighton will host Ole Miss, coached by former Husker Kayla Banwarth, in the first round.

“She deserved coach of the year because I think they lost like, I don’t know, eight or nine five-game matches last year and then to come back this year make the tournament, that’s huge,” Cook said. “So really proud of her, and then Dani is obviously the No. 1 seed. I may not know how to coach but I can find good assistants, I guess.”

In total, 17 of Nebraska’s 28 matches were against NCAA Tournament teams this season.

“We’re battle tested and we know what it’s like to go in every night and have to play great,” Cook said. “I feel like we’re just getting better and better every weekend, which we try to do this time of year. We were a couple plays away from beating Wisconsin and they played great. We had a really nice effort against to come back against Purdue last night. That was a hard turnaround for us to lose the way we did at Wisconsin and then have to go travel to Purdue and play. That’s tough turnaround, so our team did a really nice job. It shows you where they’re at right now. They’re fired up, they’re hungry. They’re looking forward to this.”

The 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament is set to begin on Thursday.

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