NCAA VOLLEYBALL FINAL FOUR
Thursday, semifinals: Gophers vs. Stanford, 6 p.m.; Nebraska vs Texas, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, final: 8 p.m. • Live stats: www.gophersports.com
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio; TV: Semifinals, ESPN; final, ESPN2
Gophers (29-4) vs. Stanford (25-7): The top-ranked Gophers, seeded second in the tournament, will play in the national semifinal for the fifth time. They have never beaten Stanford, going 0-7—including a 3-1 loss last August at Stanford in the second match of the season. The Gophers have lost only one set in the tournament, sweeping North Dakota, No. 12 Hawaii and No. 8 UCLA and beating No. 18 Missouri 3-1. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite is averaging 4.69 kills per set in the tournament while setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson is contributing 12.85 assists per set. The Gophers are 1-3 in the NCAA semifinals and lost 3-0 to Stanford in the national title match in 2004. No. 9 Stanford, the tournament’s sixth seed, tied UCLA for second place in the Pac-12 with a 15-5 record. The Cardinal is one of the tournament’s tallest teams and leads the nation with 3.33 blocks per set. Senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku, a three-time first-team All-America, ranks 13th in the nation in hitting percentage (.410) and seventh in blocks per set (1.50).
Nebraska (31-2) vs. Texas (26-4): The top-seeded Cornhuskers are the defending NCAA champs. They won the title in 1995, 2000, 2006 and 2015. Nebraska won its first Big Ten title since 2011, going 18-2 in conference play, and is 7-5 in NCAA semifinals. Senior outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen leads the second-ranked ’Huskers with 364 kills, and they hit .290 as a team, sixth best in the nation. Texas, the fourth seed, is ranked No. 5 and was second in the Big 12 with a 14-2 record. The Longhorns are hitting .311, the second-best mark in the nation. Big 12 freshman of the year Micaya White leads the team with 4.06 kills and 2.18 digs per set.