The BYU Cougars continued their Cinderella run through the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night with an upset win over #14 Nebraska in the Elite Eight. With the 3-0 sweep, the Cougars punched their ticket to the Final Four for the first time in 21 years. They have won 11 matches in a row as the 2014 WCC Champions chase a national championship.
WCC Player of the year Alexa Gray was one of two Cougars to reach double-digit kills as she had a match-high 11. The Cougars hit for a .236 clip compared to .173 for the Cornhuskers. After defeating unranked Seton Hall in the first round, the Cougars have upset ranked opponents in their past three matches.
Up next for the Cougars is a trip to Oklahoma City for the Final Four next week. NCAA Volleyball is an extremely top heavy sport, and the Cougars are in for a brutal challenge. The other three teams left in the field own seven of the last ten national championships, and each one has at least one title in that span.
BYU will open on Thursday against 2012 champions Texas. The winner of that match will face either 2004 champs Stanford or defending national champs Penn State. The Cougars did and of the three schools this season. Stanford is the only school of the group with common WCC opponents. The Cardinal had 3-0 and 3-1 wins over Santa Clara and San Diego during the regular season.
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Texas and BYU did play a few of the same non-WCC opponents, and the results actually favor the Cougars. The Longhorns swept Arizona early in the year and also squeezed out 3-2 wins over Nebraska and West Virginia. The also swept West Virginia in a rematch later in the season. The Cougars meanwhile swept West Virginia early in the year, and they are now coming off of 3-1 and 3-0 wins over Arizona and Nebraska during the NCAA Tournament.
Not only do the Cougars have the same undefeated record against these common opponents, the Cougars have even more convincing wins considering most of them came in the heat of the postseason. The Cougars are red hot and will have a legitimate shot at upsetting Texas for a shot at the national title.
The Final Four will begin on Thursday, December 18th with the Cougars facing Texas at 4 pm Pacific followed by Penn State versus Stanford at 6:30 pm Pacific. The national championship match between the two winners is scheduled for Saturday, December 20th at 4:30 pm. All of the matches in Oklahoma City will be broadcast on ESPN 2.