Wisconsin (31-3) topped the final AVCA Coaches Poll after defeating Nebraska in a five-set-thriller to capture its first national championship on Saturday. The runner-up Huskers finished at No. 2 in the poll, an eight-spot rise from the pre-tournament edition of the poll.
The Huskers went 26-8 this season and finished in the top 10 of the poll for the 10th straight year. Nebraska has finished in the top five 15 times during John Cook’s 22-year tenure in Lincoln.
“I told our team that this might be the most proud I’ve been of a Nebraska team, how they handled the season, the setbacks, the losses to get to this match and play like that and even get way down in the fifth and fight our way back,” Cook said after the final. “Just tremendous amount of heart, grit and resiliency, and these guys have done it every day. So I’m a very, very proud coach. And these guys are going to own Nebraska with this effort; win or lose tonight, it’s just the Husker nation is really, really proud right now.”
Dani Busboom Kelly’s Louisville Cardinals (32-1) finished third after falling to the Badgers in the semifinals. The Huskers knocked out No. 4 Pitt (30-4) in the semifinals and No. 5 Texas (27-2) in the regional finals.
No. 6 Purdue (26-7) and No. 7 Minnesota (22-9) both moved up after their tournament runs. Ohio State (27-6) dropped to No. 11. Illinois (22-12) jumped from receiving votes to No. 16 after upsetting seventh-seeded Kentucky to reach the Sweet 16. Penn State (21-11) dropped two spots to No. 17.
Nonconference foes Utah (No. 18, 22-9), Stanford (No. 21, 19-11) and Creighton (No. 22, 31-4) all finished inside the top 25 as well.
In total, 18 of Nebraska’s 34 matches this season were against teams that finished the season in the top 25.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.