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News, photos, notes, quotes before Louisville plays Wisconsin, Pitt faces Nebraska

The Pitt Panthers had some light moments in training on Wednesday / Photo by Michael Gomez

No. 1 Louisville (32-0) vs No. 4 Wisconsin (29-3)

Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
coaches – Louisville, Danny Bosboom Kelly (season 5); Wisconsin, Kelly Sheffield (9th season)
How did they get here? Louisville: defeated UIC 3-0, Ball State 3-0, No. 16 Florida 3-0, the No. 16 8 Georgia Tech 3-1. Wisconsin: Colgate 3-0, Florida Gulf Coast defeated No. 13 UCLA 3-0 and No. 12 Minnesota 3-0
Date – Wisconsin is leading 7-1 in the league series going back to 1985. Louisville’s only win came in 2017.

Giorgia Civita of Wisconsin passes as Grace Loberg, left, and Julia Orzol looking on/Photo by Michael Gomez

of note – Louisville is trying to become the first NCAA champion to finish a season undefeated since Penn State in 2009. This was the Nittany Lions’ second consecutive undefeated title…Each program is striving for their first national title. A Louisville (or Pittsburgh) win would be the first ACC title… This is the first time an ACC team has reached two teams into the fourth round…
Wisconsin was national runner-up two years ago for Stanford… Louisville coach Danny Bosboom Kelly is the first female coach in NCAA volleyball history to finish the regular season with an undefeated record. She is also trying to become the first coach to lead a women’s volleyball team to a Division I title… Wisconsin has been at least in the Sweet 16 every year during Kelly Sheffield’s coaching tenure… Hitting ratio (.447) and third in the squares (1.37). ) …

Nina Mbono hits a photo of Louisville / Michael Gomez

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in batting (.296) and also in opponent batting percentage (.159) … Louisville is the first team to finish the regular season undefeated since Missouri in 2013 … As a Nebraska player, Busboom Kelly faced Louisville in 2004 The NCAA Round of 16, she had 39 assists and seven assists when he swept the Mummy… Bosboom Kelly too could make another piece of history with a national championship: She would award her titles as player, assistant coach, and coach.

Liz Gregorsky of Wisconsin, left, and photo of Jocelyn Boyer/Michael Gomez

Queryable – Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield in the fourth round: “I think these are four teams that have distinct playing styles. The four teams peak in time. … I think when you get to this stage of the season … the main key is to stay true to yourself. “.
Louisville coach Danny Bosboom Kelly talks about expecting a long-term contract in Louisville: “I love Louisville. My husband loves it here. We want to stay a long time, sure. We’ve definitely talked about that with management and how we can make this profitable for our family and the University of Louisville.”
usboom Kelly on ACC’s progress: “We hear a lot about the ACC not being good, and we don’t compete with the Big Ten. But I’ve seen the ACC do some amazing things in this tournament and some guys that no one has been able to stop them, both in the conference they’re in. … I am really excited about the future of the ACC.”
Bosboom Kelly talks about the possibility of becoming the first female coach to win a National Championship in Division One: “I know a lot of my teammates said it would be great if I was the first woman to win the National Championship. But it would also be amazing if a female won the National Championship. … but At the end of the day, I hate that it’s about sex. And on Saturday, if we win, I want it to be because I’m the best coach of the year, not because I’m female.”
Anna Stevenson on Louisville culture: “I think our team does a good job of holding each other accountable. I think there’s a lot of confidence in the team working with us. We know they’re on our side.”
Louisville setter Tori Delver, on her upbringing with former NFL QB Trent Delfer: “I grew up in a really competitive family. My sisters are great competitors and obviously my mom and dad instilled that in us, which I think has been huge for me. I think the support he gave Me throughout my career and I don’t always need to be a ‘coach’ or give advice from his past experiences. He’s been a great ‘dad’ through it all….He’s my dad first.”
Sheffield on giving players the option to play five years in college permanently: “I really think we’ve reached a point, or we’ve reached a point where every player in every sport has the opportunity to play for five years. You’re getting rid of the red jersey rule. You’re getting rid of the conference or NCAA Concessions To me, that’s a bigger deal than NIL. It’s a much bigger deal than NIL. You have every college athlete able to graduate debt-free – Scholarships for athletes – debt-free and with a college degree. I’m a man, a holy cow. You’re thinking of The number of people who pay off their graduate degrees for 20-30 years after school, we can clear that for free.”
Wisconsin playmaker Sidney Healey spoke of that national championships are the norm on the show: “I think it’s kind of an unmissable target. Whoever comes to Wisconsin, that’s one of the reasons they come here is to make history and win a national championship. … that’s it” Why ‘we have. That’s why we work so hard.’
Wisconsin outfielders Grace Loberge chimed in on how her game has evolved in the second half of the season: “I feel like I’m playing with a different mindset. I’ve been working a lot on incorporating new shots into my play, and I think that has really helped me. But I feel like one of the biggest things for me is to keep going. In focusing on the present in every scenario I’m in.”

John Cook of Nebraska during training Wednesday / Michael Gomez

No. 3 Pete (30-3) vs No. 10 Nebraska (25-7)

Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
coaches – Pitt, Dan Fisher (9th season); Nebraska, John Cook (season 22)
How did they get here? Pete: defeated UMBC 3-0, Penn State 3-1, Kansas 3-0, and No. 6 Purdue 3-1. Nebraska defeated Campbell 3-0, Florida 3-0, Illinois 3-0, Texas No. 2 3-1.
Date – Nebraska won all 12 encounters in the series, including three in the NCAA Championships, last in 1990. The last meeting was 2015, a four-set win at Lincoln. Pete only took four sets in those 12 meetings.
of note – Pittsburgh appears for the first time in Final Four. It’s the first women’s program in the school’s history to reach an NCAA semi-final and only third overall…Over the past five seasons, the Panthers have been 135-19 with three seasons of at least 30 wins…Nebraska has lost to other semi-finalists, Wisconsin and Louisville, this season…Louisville-Pittsburgh has handed two of its three losses this season (the other was Georgia Tech)…
John Cook has coached the Cornhuskers to four national titles, most recently in 2017. Five-year senior player Lauren Stevens, an outside hitter for the All-Big Ten, is the only player left from that team. Three more — first quarterback Nicklin Hammers, senior outside hitter Lexi Sun and senior quarterback Kaley Schwarzenbach — joined the Stiffrins on the 2018 Nebraska national runner-up team… Nebraska makes its 40th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship, second only to Penn State 41 …at No. 10, Nebraska is the lowest-seeded Final Four and the lowest-seeded to have reached the quarter-finals since 2014 … Nebraska newcomer Lexi Rodriguez was named Defensive Player of the Year and All-Star Big Ten.. V. Pete Junior Kayla Lund of the year won her first team honors fourth of the season…when she was at Penn State, she faced Serena Gray of Pete Nebraska three times, collecting 17 kills in those games…the last four are Homecoming for the home of Kiyamaka Nokulu. She attended Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus…
Pete’s Kayla Lund is tied down with an upper body injury, but she doesn’t expect it to hold her back during the fourth turn…Sabrina Starks of Pete hails from Springfield, Nebraska,

Queryable – Pete off-hit Kayla Lund, on the injury she has sustained since mid-November: “No comment. I can train, and every day as the game gets closer, I can do a little more.”
Pete coach Dan Fisher, on the game with Nebraska: “I think both teams are strong in passing. It’s going to be an interesting fight. And in the transition, we’re more aggressive than we are. They’re playing it safe a little bit, so it should be fun to watch.”
Pete right-sided Chinaza Niddy, on being in the quarterfinals: “Mostly just grateful…and just staying present. Those are the two main things and then just feeling confident. We know we’re good enough to be here.”
Fisher, on the end-of-season contributions of freshman Rachel Fairbanks: “When I recruited her, she told me she touched 10ft. I don’t think I really believed that. I didn’t think she could be a hitter. Then sometime in the year, I think she touched 10-3½.” She’s got a good arm, and she’s been getting stronger. She’s more physically mature than when she came out this summer. And she’s become more technically determined. Combine that with some injuries to[5th-year racket]Kylie[Livers]and she was propelled into a role and presented Really great performance.”
Fisher on how to attack the Nebraska defense: “We plan to do what we always do. We will try to hit the ball as hard as we can.”
Fisher on Nwokolo playing for Columbus fans in her hometown: “Sometimes you need some encouragement to practically make it all happen. You don’t need encouragement at all when the stage gets bigger. She loves competition.”
Nebraska coach John Cook talks about what it means to get to the last four: “It’s a big deal in Nebraska. The texts I get, the emails I get, people shed tears, they write me these emails, they cry because we won and we got to these last four. That’s what makes her really cool, and I won’t take that for granted.”
Cook, on Louisville coach Danny Bosboom Kelly, former player and assistant coach at Nebraska: “I’m so proud of Danny. You’ve done an amazing job…it’s really hard not to be defeated up to this point. You can say, ‘Well, they played in the ACC.'” Well, we know how tough the ACC is this year, which makes it even more difficult. And they went in and kicked our ass at Devani.”

Pittsburgh coach Dan Fisher visits his team during Wednesday training / Photo by Michael Gomez

Lauren Stevens of Nebraska on her last four experience: “Experience is always helpful. But when it’s game time, the team will be better prepared and want it more and fight harder. Hopefully it’s us.”
Maddy Kubik of Nebraska-on-Pete: “We know they have a really fast attack. They have a lot of weapons that we have to watch out for. But we’re just excited about the challenge.”
Cook: “You can’t be a fake team and get here.”

Louisville takes a break during training Wednesday / Photo by Michael Gomez
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