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Wisconsin, Nebraska advance to NCAA women’s volleyball final

Nebraska celebrates its win over Pitt during the NCAA Final Four last fall. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Wisconsin and Nebraska will play in an all Big Ten NCAA women’s volleyball final after the teams delivered upsets Thursday night to advance past the Final Four.

Here is how the action unfolded in Columbus, Ohio.

No. 4 Wisconsin defeats No. 1 Louisville 3-2

The Badgers took down the undefeated Cardinals in five sets (25-23, 15-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-9) to advance to Saturday’s championship.

The loss brings Louisville’s dream season to an end. The Cardinals had won all 32 of their matches up until Thursday night, making it the best season in program history.

Wisconsin freshman Anna Smrek was the star of the night, as the middle blocker pounded a career-high 20 kills, including the match winner. The Badgers will appear in the national title game for the second time in three seasons.

No. 10 Nebraska defeats No. 3 Pittsburgh 3-1

After dropping the first set, Nebraska responded to take the next three and bounce Pitt from the tournament. The Huskers averaged just .246 hitting during the match, but recorded 10 blocks and six serving aces while slowing the Panthers’ offense to claim the victory.

Madi Kubik led the way for Nebraska with 13 kills and 13 digs. Lauren Stivrins, who returned from injury this season, posted nine kills and six blocks, including the game-winner.

The win marked Nebraska’s second top-three upset in as many games after the team took down No. 2 seed Texas in the Elite Eight. Saturday will be Nebraska’s first trip to the national championship game since losing to Stanford in 2018.

The Badgers have won seven straight matches against the Huskers — including twice this season — with their last loss coming in September of 2017. But Nebraska has battled throughout the NCAA Tournament, taking down a number of top-ranked teams on their way to the final.

Nebraska and Wisconsin will meet in the national championship match on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.