The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, December 11, 1998, Page 8, Image 8

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For Nebraska, attitude is key to Final Four berth
By Andrew Strnad
Staff writer
Simply put, the NCAA volleyball tour
nament is a player’s tournament.
At least, that’s how Nebraska Coach
Terry Pettit describes it.
“Coaches can get a team to the tourna
ment, but players are the ones who win it at
this level,” Pettit said.
If Pettit is right, then the
Cornhuskers (30-1) have a lot
going for them
entering this
weekend’s Pacific
Regional play.
The Huskers
possess one of the
top players in the
nation in senior
setter Fiona Nepo.
Nepo is cer
tainly expected to
be named to her
third All
American team
later this month,
and Pettit said the
Huskers' level
play ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
determined by
Nebraska (30-1)
Seed: 1
Ranking: 3
Conference Record: 19-1
Tourney Record: 37-15
How they got there: Beat Morgan St. 3-0
in 1st round, beat Utah in 2nd round
Nepo s presence.
“It all begins with Fiona,” Pettit said.
“Teams normally play to the level of their
Nepo has played in 14 tournament
matches and along with senior outside hitter
Jaime Krondak and senior middle blocker
Megan Korver, the three have played in a
combined 38 tournament matches.
Both Nepo and Krondak were members
NU’s 1995 national championship team, and
Krondak said the mindset of the players
determines who plays in the Final Four and
who doesn't.
“It’s all attitude,” Krondak said. “What
team has the mentality will dominate.”
In the way of a possible third trip to the
Final Four in the last four years is unseeded
Pepperdine (19-10).
The Waves are making their first trip to
the regionals after upsetting No. 4-seed
Michigan State in the first round last week
Pettit was impressed with the quality of
Pepperdine’s starting personnel, which he
said doesn’t have a weak link.
Pettit will have personnel problems of
his own, as the NCAA dictates the number
of players who can participate.
All teams must designate the 12 players
who are eligible to play before the match
begins. That regulation will force Pettit to
sideline a player or two who he
would normally
want to play.
“I’ve never had
this situation
before where I
have to sit several
players,” Pettit
said. “These
women work so
hard all year long,
and some of them
won’t get to play.”
The Huskers
have what many
consider one of the
deepest teams in I
school history,
and Pettit said
he hopes the
NCAA looks
into expanding the tournament rosters.
“I think this is something the NCAA
needs to address,” Pettit said. “This is not
one of the more pleasurable things I get to
However, even with a roster limited to
12, the Huskers are still heavy favorites
given that they will be playing in front of a
sold-out NU Coliseum, where they have
won 62 consecutive matches.
Pc p p p d niNi
Wm mmk ml ■"» IJJf
Waves not intimidated despite unseeded status
By James Nicas
Staff writer
As the only unseeded team to advance
to the Regional Semi-Finals, it would be
easy to label the Pepperdine Waves as the
“Cinderella” of the NCAA volleyball tour
The way Pepperdine Head Coach Nina
Matthies sees it, the Waves aren’t wearing
any glass slippers.
Either way, after defeating No. 14
Michigan State on MSU’s home court last
Friday and North Carolina on Saturday, the
unranked Waves, 19-10, will be looking to i
extend their pumpkin ride tonight m
against Nebraska at 7:30 in the NL
“Cinderella or not, we’re just
not happy to be here.” Matthies JM
said. “I mean we're happy to be ||flS|
here, but that is not the end of our
The season has been an up
and down year for the Waves. ■!
Pepperdine began the year 7-6. ■■
Since then, thev have gone 12-4. «^Ej|
including winning sev en of their
Along with recent victories
over No. 16 San Diego and No. 25
Loyola Marymount, the Waves lost
Pepperdine (19-10)
Seed: none
Ranking: 28
Conference Record: 11-3
Tourney Record: 2-10
How they got there: Beat Michigan St.
3-2 at MSU in 1st round, beat North
Carolina 3-0 in 2nd round
to No. 6 Hawaii and No. 15 UCLA.
Pepperdine ’s
s o n
success may
be attributed to the
influx of freshmen new to
the team.
The Waves entered the year with six
freshmen, including four who play frequent
“We've had a rocky road with some
injuries and playing with six freshmen a few
times,” Matthies said. “As you can see, I don’t
have any gray hairs, so we’ve survived.
The cream of the Waves’ crop is first
team All-West Coast Conference
outside hitter Lindsay
Phillips. Phillips leads
the team in kills per
game (4.75), aces
(43) and digs
Senior out
side hitter
Kristin Lee
has helped
pace the
Waves this
season. The
honorable men
tion All-West
Coast Conference
selection posted
personal sin
bests in kills,
service aces
and digs.
Pepperdine has
lost in the first round of the
NCAA Tournament in its pre
vious 10 appearances. Lee said
advancing past their first match was
a major goal for the Waves this season.
“Personally, it's been my focus every
year I've played,” Lee said. “That is what I
wanted, what the team wanted and what we
worked hard for.”
For many teams, just facing Nebraska
places a team at a psychological disadvan
tage. However. Matthies said she knows her
team will be ready to play.
“I'm not cocky in thinking that we can
walk in here by any means on top,” Matthies
said. “But yet, I don’t feel we re intimidated.”
One’s the favorite.
One’s a Cinderella,
fine’s trying to get
One’s looking for
two upsets.
They’re all looking
for a national title.
The Cornhuskers are being powered by a sophomore outside hitter
who is averaging 6.40 kills a game and hitting .380 through the last five
matches. As a team, the Huskers lead the nation in blocks per game
(4.01). With a 63-match NU Coliseum winning streak, look for the
Huskers to advance to their sixth Final Four.
The Waves are certainly the surprise story in this year’s tournament
after upsetting Michigan State in East Lansing. Pepperdine became the
first West Coast Conference team to ever make it to the Sweet 16. All
WCC selection freshman outside hitter Lindsay Phillips leads the Waves
with 4.75 kills per game. Despite leading the all-time series vs. Nebraska
3-1, the Waves will have trouble washing out the Huskers.
The Badgers are no strangers to the NU Coliseum, having played a
regional match against Penn State in 1996. Coach John Cook and
Assistant Coach Christy Johnson have strong ties to Nebraska, and
Cook hopes the Husker faithful will pull for the Badgers against UC
Santa Barbara. The Badgers feature 1998 Big 10 newcomer of the year
freshman middle blocker Sherisa Livingston, who averages 3.17 kills per
game and is hitting .363 for the season.
The Gauchos are one of four schools that has been to every NCAA
tournament, but is the only school that hasn’t won a national champi
onship. UCSB has never met the Badgers and hasn’t played in Lincoln
since 1982.