NCAA volleyball regional Maturi Pavilion
Friday semifinals: No. 7 seed Nebraska vs. No. 10 Kentucky, 1 p.m. (TV: ESPNU); No. 2 Gophers vs. No. 15 Oregon, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN.com streaming).
Saturday final: 5 p.m. (TV: ESPNU).
About Oregon: One of three teams to defeat the Gophers this season, the Ducks (22-10, 13-7 Pac-12) defeated Baylor in five sets to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2014. Though Oregon tied USC for second place in the Pac-12, that Sept. 7 victory over the Gophers — then ranked No. 1 — is its only win over a top-10 team this season. Senior Lindsey Vander Weide (3.52 kills per set) and junior Ronika Stone (2.95 kills per set, 1.21 blocks per set) were named to the All-Pac-12 team. Oregon is 3-7 all-time in NCAA regional play and has advanced to the Final Four once, in 2012.
About Nebraska: The defending NCAA champions, the Cornhuskers (26-6, 15-5 Big Ten) boast the nation’s best defense and a wealth of NCAA tournament experience. Senior captains Mikaela Foecke (3.74 kills per set, 42 service aces) and Kenzie Maloney (4.07 digs per set) are 18-1 in NCAA tournament matches, with three Final Four appearances and titles in 2015 and 2017. The Huskers lead the nation in opponent hitting percentage (.132) and are 12th in blocks per set (2.82) and aces per set (1.7). Nebraska has won its past 10 matches and is trying to reach four consecutive Final Fours for the first time in program history.
About Kentucky: The Wildcats (26-4, 18-0 SEC) are on their longest winning streak since 1987, a 23-match string that began Sept. 8. The SEC champions have swept 11 of their past 12 opponents and have dropped only seven sets in the streak. Led by SEC player of the year Leah Edmond (4.36 kills per set), the Wildcats are ranked fourth in the nation in hitting percentage (.305) and eighth in kills per set (14.5). Kentucky’s 2017 season ended with a 3-1 loss to Nebraska in an NCAA regional final.