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Louisville volleyball could make history in NCAA title match

Louisville's Raquel Lazaro celebrates winning a point during her team's NCAA semifinal victory. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Louisville volleyball outlasted Pittsburgh in Thursday’s semifinals in Omaha to reach its first national championship match.

The rivals traded sets through a back-and-forth contest, but the Cardinals finally grasped control with a 15-2 win in the final set. They will face No. 1 overall seed Texas at 8 p.m. ET Saturday for the NCAA title.

The national championship will air on ESPN2 and stream on ESPN+.

If the Cardinals can beat the Longhorns, they’ll make history in a number of ways.

No Louisville women’s team has won a national championship in any sport. No ACC team has won a national championship in volleyball. And no woman has coached a volleyball team to a title.

Louisville coach Dani Busboom Kelly could become the first woman to do so after leading the Cardinals to a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh in the semifinals. Claire Chaussee led the team with 25 kills, and Anna DeBeer (15) and Aiko Jones (12) also reached double figures.

“Dani has just done so much for this program,” DeBeer said. “She’s a badass. She knows what she wants, she makes us work hard, we want to work hard for her.”

Texas bested San Diego 3-1 in the earlier semifinal. With the win, the Longhorns reached their eighth NCAA title match. They’ve won twice, in 2012 and 1988.

The national championship match will cap a strong year for women’s volleyball, which has included attendance records and TV records.

One more record could fall Saturday. Last year’s NCAA championship game drew 1.2 million viewers on ESPN2, making it the most-viewed women’s college volleyball match ever on ESPN’s networks. How many will tune in for this year’s final?