April 4, 2020
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Nebraska Volleyball Championship- Destination: Omaha

Huskers are a point away from a fourth NCAA championship. It’s a little bit sweeter
when you can beat your rival to win that title, and they
could be winning here in Omaha for the second time. LINDSAY PETERSON: Can we live up
to everybody’s expectation? AMBER ROLFZEN: I think
the biggest pressure of the whole season
was getting to Omaha. (crowd cheering) COACH JOHN COOK: We had
no idea how good we could be. LINDSAY PETERSON: They knew they
had a big rivalry with Texas, and that Texas had kept us
from accomplishing some goals in the previous years. ALICIA OSTRANDER: You know, this
isn’t gonna be a cakewalk. LINDSAY PETERSON: They wanted
to be the Final Four. They wanted to stop this trend of just making it to the Elite
Eight and being so close. COACH COOK: We gotta live up
to all this hype and all this expectation, and I think they felt
a lot of pressure. (upbeat music) Programming made possible in
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their policy holders – are still the same. Farmers Mutual. More than a century of service. (intense music) COOK: One move with
your arms, no double pumps, one move, elbows
back, here we go. Ahh, that shot could be in an
ESPN highlight right there. Take us home, Justine. Beautiful Brooke, thatta girl. KELLY HUNTER: I think the
pressure was definitely there, because we had been talking
about it for a year, and it’s our home state. It’s my home city, and so I think that added
a little bit of a pressure, but I think that pressure
definitely lifted us up and made us that much
more willing and wanting to get to Omaha. (players yelling over
each other) COACH COOK: Come on, lift her
up the heat. Big girl grow, let’s
make it look easy. Dig your serve, hit! Get there, transfer your
weight, thatta girl. COACH COOK: A lot of people,
when we first came out with it, kind of said, what
are you doing. You’re gonna put
way too much pressure on these guys,
but my thought was everybody’s gonna
talk about it anyway, and everybody has
been talking about it since January of 2015, but we just felt like
we had to embrace it. JUSTINE WONG-ORANTES: Omaha on
three, one, two, three. TEAM: Omaha! (team practicing) CHRIS TAMAS: A mantra that
John had when we got here, and that was, hey, we’re
gonna outwork everyone and we’re gonna
come in every day and prove that we belong in
Omaha at the end of the season. (players shouting) CECELIA HALL:
That was a great serve. COACH COOK: We got a lot of
players from Nebraska. Kelly, Kadie, and
Amber from Papillion, so for them, it was something
that was very tangible. They could see it. We actually put up pictures
of the CenturyLink Center to remind them that, you know, that’s where we’re
trying to get to. Kind of a no-brainer
type of goal to set. (crowd cheering) MALE ANNOUNCER:
Serving is Oxley. And in the middle Livingstone. This could be it. Set to Lakowski. And she puts it away! Nebraska has made history! COACH COOK: Well in 2000, that
was my first year coaching here, and we all had a
chip on our shoulder, because at the pre-season we were the lowest-ranked
pre-season team ever in the history of
Nebraska volleyball. So that team was out
to prove something. 2006, we had lost the
year before in the final. The sting of losing that really
motivated that 2006 team, so that was more of a, we have a great
team, we know it, and I think that team
was on a mission. ALICIA OSTRANDER:
There’s little girls
that are looking up to those, in my opinion, Nebraska girls,
’cause that’s what I did when I was watching in 2006. I was looking Dani Busboom,
Jordan Larson, Dani Mancuso, and comparing myself to them. They grew up in this
state bleeding Husker red, and that’s what
motivated me in 2006. AMBER ROLFZEN: Watching them
win the National Championship in 2006 was just like one
of those things you’re like, wow, I really want to do that. And I think little girls from Nebraska,
wanna play for Nebraska, but when you see them win
a national championship, it’s like an extra step, so I think a lot of
them probably are like, that’s my dream one day. KELLY HUNTER: I think any
little girl grows up wanting to play in
front of 17,000 fans, but just for myself
and other girls, to be in our home city in Omaha, I think it was just
that much more sweet. (cheering) (whistle blowing) FEMALE ANNOUNCER:
Hunter to Rolfzen, not only Nebraska teammates but high school
teammates as well, at Papio South. LINDSAY PETERSON:
It’s how ironic it
is to have three players from the same high school team. Kelly and Amber
and Kadie have been on the court a lot together. LARRY PUNTENEY: We have the
Class A State Championship coming your way, the
Omaha Marian Crusaders taking on the two-time
defending champion, Papillion-La Vista South Titans. Three high level
Division One recruits on the Papio-La Vista
South side of the net. (whistle blows) This championship point. And they got it with the ace! The Rolfzen twins and
Hunter go three straight, as sophomores,
juniors, and seniors, and Papillion-La Vista South
once again the state champs in Class A. AMBER ROLFZEN: We’re all
comfortable with each other, ’cause we’ve played for like
six, seven years together. KELLY HUNTER:
We’ve been playing together since we were in
the eighth grade, so to just kind of grow
up with them and mature and then to experience this
all with them is amazing. KADIE ROLFZEN: And being able to
represent our city, our state, our high school, you name
it, at the national level in our home town, was
just something that, I mean it was just special
for all three of us. PUNTENEY: Outside. Rolfzen, wow. KATHI WIESKAMP: Not
many kids can do that at the high school level. PUNTENEY:
Overpassed and pounded. WIESKAMP: Oww! PUNTENEY: Wow, what
a swing by Amber Rolfzen, COACH COOK:
When Kadie and Amber, going
into their eighth grade summer going into their
ninth grade year, they were in camp, and we told
them we were gonna offer ’em, but we wanted to wait,
there was no hurry. Of course it was
kind of national news that here we got eighth graders going on their ninth grade year committing to
Nebraska volleyball. (upbeat music) COACH COOK: When they got here,
I called them the LeBron James of volleyball. (upbeat music) PUNTENEY: Rolfzen with
the kill in the middle. (upbeat music & cheering) PUNTENEY:
Rolfzen pounds away. (upbeat music & cheering) PUNTENEY: Rolfzen! (upbeat music & cheering) PUNTENEY: Rolfzen
with the kill. (upbeat music & cheering) KEVIN KUGLER: In the
middle, the swing from Rolfzen. Oh, how’d she find that opening? COACH COOK:
That was a very tight bond
those guys came in with. And Kadie and Amber are twins, so there’s even a tighter bond, so we felt like one way for
Kelly to create her own space and her own identity
was to redshirt her. (intense music) COACH COOK: Let her
create her own personality and allow her to really
become a great leader. KELLY HUNTER:
I don’t think anyone really
wants to sit out a year, but for me, I knew
what was best for me, and coach kept reminding me,
like, it’ll all be worth it. Don’t get impatient. It’ll all be worth it. And obviously it was. And I wouldn’t trade my
experience for anything. COACH COOK: Nice set, Kelly. NARRATOR: The resiliency
Kelly displayed as a redshirt in 2014 proved to the coaches
they had found a captain in their new court general. (electric guitar music) NARRATOR:
From the other side of the
state, another player emerged, taking a much different
path to leadership. (electric guitar music) ALICIA OSTRANDER:
I came here for teen camps
my junior year of high school, and Coach Cook kinda
saw something in me and asked if I
wanted to walk on, and I’d work extra hard, just
because I was hours behind the girls that had scholarships. COACH COOK: She took
a big risk to even come here, and there wasn’t a lot
of encouragement for her in her first couple years just because she
was so far behind. And it wasn’t like
we were telling her, hey, you’re gonna be an
All-American starter some day. I mean, we were wondering if
she was even gonna make it all five years. And we even talked to her
about transferring somewhere where she could play a lot more. But she, her dream was
to play at Nebraska. (crowd cheering) (girls yelling) KUGLER: There’s Ostrander! She’ll put it down. WIESKAMP: As we’ve talked
about, she’s kinda been that inspiration,
that impact player, and has been called
to duty many times. (crowd cheering) KUGLER: And
there’s a good swing from Alicia Ostrander, providing
a spark again for Nebraska. (crowd cheering) KUGLER: Ostrander
puts that one straight down for the kill. WIESKAMP: And
Ostrander a crowd favorite. (crowd cheering) COACH COOK: Of any player I’ve
coached in 15 years, Alicia started from the lowest
point and probably did the most over her five years with
the Nebraska volleyball. ALICIA OSTRANDER: You know
in my career, I was at the beginning happy
to just be on the team. Looking back, I would
never have guessed I would’ve been a captain. NARRATOR: Competing on a
roster overflowing with talent, Ostrander had to
lead from the bench, instilling her perspective
and her experience when necessary. JUSTINE WONG-ORANTES:
I’ve looked up to her,
just in terms of leadership, because I think she’s the
best leader that we’ve had. She did a lot for this
team, and not many people may have realized that. KELLY HUNTER:
She’s that one who’s gonna
call someone out in the moment where no one else wants to. She holds everyone accountable, and you never are gonna
question how hard she works every single day. So I think she set a great
example both verbally and by the way she played. (crowd cheering) NARRATOR: Kelly and
Alicia knew the road to the Final Four
could be a bumpy ride. The previous three
seasons ended with losses in the NCAA regional finals, keeping their goals
just out of reach. MALE ANNOUNCER: It’s
gonna be Kelsey. Gotta get it in. She’s gonna jump
float to make sure. (crowd cheering) Kelsey Robinson serves long on
the last rally of the season, and Texas sweeps
Nebraska in Lincoln. KELSEY ROBINSON:
These freshmen are gonna be
amazing when they’re seniors. So everybody better watch
out when they’re seniors, ’cause they’re gonna win it all. (slow music) LINDSAY PETERSON: They
wanted to be in a Final Four, they wanted to stop this
trend of just making it to the Elite Eight
and being so close. AMBER ROLFZEN: Having two years
in a row not even getting to the Final Four, which is
something that, I’m like, what do we need to do. (cheering) MALE ANNOUNCER: Outside to Fein. And it’s blocked. Dalton and Fogbound with the
stuffed block and Texas wins it. COACH COOK:
We lost to Texas in September,
and I changed the line-up. We felt like we had to do this
to have a chance to compete. NARRATOR: Following
her red shirt season, sophomore Kelly Hunter
took over at setter. Newcomer Mikaela Foecke and
All-American Kadie Rolfzen switched sides. Coach Cook’s toughest move,
though, was one he contemplated for over two years, moving Amber
Rolfzen from outside hitter to middle blocker prior
to the 2015 season. KELLY HUNTER: I think for him to
go ahead and make those moves and be kind of fearless
made us trust in him and trust in his decisions
and made us fearless as well. AMBER ROLFZEN: He
kept saying, so are you sure you don’t want to play
middle and I’m like, yeah, I’m sure. Then he kept asking me, and
then eventually I was just like, okay fine. I feel you’re just gonna keep
asking me until I say yeah. PUNTENEY: Quick
in the middle. The block is there. And that’s Amber Rolfzen
with the big block. She moved to middle this year and has done an outstanding
job for the Huskers. COACH COOK:
I could see the passion and
the fire she played with. She played unrestricted. Where I think she
was thinking too much as an outside hitter. And so it really unleashed her. (driving music) (whistle blows) (cheering) (whistle blows) (cheering) (whistle blows) (cheering) (whistle blows) (cheering) (whistle blows) (cheering) PUNTENEY: Right
there is Rolfzen and Amber with the block. She leads the Big 10 in blocks. (crowd cheering) KADIE ROLFZEN: Coach Cook, he
just trusted it, I guess, and one of his phrases,
“Trust it, big girl”, so I guess I can
throw it back at him and say, “Trust it, big guy”. LINDSAY PETERSON:
It was such a theme this
year about trusting each other and trusting your teammates
and trusting your coaches. Everybody bought into that and
I think Coach Cook, as well. He had to finally
just let go and trust that this was the right move, and it might not be perfect
every play or every match, but this was the right move and would best for
us in December. NARRATOR: The battle for the Big
10 Conference Championship is a tight race every year. Entering the middle of
October, eight Big 10 teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25. With home court advantage, the
number three ranked Huskers had another competitive
weekend ahead, as they faced #9 Minnesota, followed by #16 Wisconsin. (cheering) (whistle blows) PUNTENEY: Off of
the tip from Nebraska, and it falls, and the Golden
Gophers have gone on the road and upset the number three
ranked team in the nation. (cheering) (whistle blows) PUNTENEY:
Bates ends it and Wisconsin
has their first ever win in program history in Lincoln. AMBER ROLFZEN: We haven’t lost
twice in a row for a long time, let alone at home. (cheering) (whistle blows) KELLY HUNTER:
I know we all knew we didn’t
play our best that weekend and we didn’t give
’em our best shot. (cheering) (whistle blows) MIKAELA FOECKE: We talk about
ultimate trust all the time, and we did not display
it that weekend. ALICIA OSTRANDER: It was kinda
like a slap in the face. Like, this isn’t
gonna be a cakewalk. (cheering) (whistle blows) CHRIS TAMAS: You’re kinda
questioning if you have the right lineup out there, if you’re doing the
right things in practice. LINDSAY PETERSON:
I think that really was
a big turning point for us, that weekend, and
how the girls decided to handle those losses. Instead of just thinking
it was a bad weekend, they realized that
something needed to change, and it had to start within
the team and themselves, and not one person,
all 16 people. (melancholy music) JUSTINE WONG-ORANTES:
After we lost, that Saturday
night, we stayed together as a team and we talked, hey,
like, what are we gonna do to not feel this again. KENZIE MALONEY:
It was kind of emotional. We were all throwing out
things that we needed to do. Cut the crap.
We gotta get it done. AMBER ROLFZEN: We know that
we have the talent, we know we have the ability,
and now it’s just a matter of putting it all together,
playing as a team, playing for each other. COACH COOK:
If we win that weekend, we’re probably gonna
go rank number one. So here we are, ranked number
one, Final Four’s in Omaha, and I think that weekend they
were feeling the pressure. (light piano music) (intense music) ALICIA OSTRANDER: That weekend
for the number one thing didn’t define us. KELLY HUNTER:
We realized that we had
a lot of growing up to do. We had a lot of things
that we needed to change. AMBER ROLFZEN; We started
playing well, playing as a team, and really focusing on
finishing the season out strong. COACH JOHN COOK:
I actually think that was
a blessing in disguise, that weekend that e
lost both those matches. And I think it took the
pressure off of them, and we became the hunters
and not the hunted. (bombastic music) (cheering) (whistle) ANNOUNCER:
Over pass, put down. Good
pancake up, kept it alive. Kelsey
Fien bangs it home! Outside,
Fien off the block. Kept alive by Nebraska. Great defensive
effort, and it pays off for the Huskers. That’ll bring ’em to their feet. (crowd cheering) Hunter terrific. Foecke with the power. And the block, kept alive. Hunter got a swing at it. CHRIS TAMAS: They
embraced the battle, and then they really
took it to other teams, and didn’t let other teams
think they had a chance to beat ’em. (cheering) MALE ANNOUNCER: Wong-Orantes
saves it, wow! (cheering) (whistle) MALE ANNOUNCER: Albrecht with
the kill from 10 feet away. (cheering) MALE ANNOUNCER:
Terrific short serve. FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Cece’s doing a
great job dancing over there. (cheering) MALE ANNOUNCER:
Foecke puts it down. MALE ANNOUNCER: Hunter
on the second touch. (cheering) (whistle) MALE ANNOUNCER: Nebraska’s
block is really taking over this match. (music) NARRATOR: After a first
set scare from Harvard in the first round,
a sold out home crowd saw their Huskers get
back on track to advance to a daunting
Lexington regional. COACH COOK:
Everybody said it was by far
the most difficult regional, and I would agree with that. I mean, to say you gotta go
beat BYU in a regional semi and Washington at
the regional final. I’m not sure how many coaches
would take that and think, yeah, my chances
are pretty good. But I think our team, because
of experience the year before, was very confident
and felt very good. NARRATOR: Nebraska advanced, beating Washington three-one. The Huskers arrived
at destination
Omaha, one match away from the national championship. (cheering) NARRATOR:
The Huskers blocked their
way past a red-hot Kansas team, fresh off an upset of
#1 ranked USC. And Texas took down Minnesota,
to set up a historic rematch of the 1995 national
championship. (upbeat rock music) CHEERLEADERS: Huskers! (upbeat rock music) (cheering) FEMALE ANNOUNCER: CenturyLink
Center in Omaha, just 54 miles from the
Husker campus in Lincoln. And the sea of red is poised
to make some noise for Nebraska and Texas in the
national championship. LINDSAY PETERSON: They knew they
had a big rivalry with Texas, and that Texas had kept us
from accomplishing some goals in previous year. AMBER ROLFZEN: You just
did whatever you could to get one more point
every single time. (intense music) COACH COOK: They were feeling
it, and it was spreading to all of them, and they
were all making great plays. You could just go through
almost every point that we won, somebody’d made a
spectacular play. Any hope that Texas
had, we took it away. CHRIS TAMAS: From an
athletics world, we call it just being dialed in. Everyone, performance-wise,
was just dialed in, and they’re communicating,
and they’re celebrating every point like
it was their last. CROWD: Go Big Red,
into the locker room, and our nerves are going. We’re hyped up. And so we were kind
of dancing around and kind of being silly and
Coach was actually, like, really worried about
us, because he’s like, alright, we’ve gotta
take it down a notch. COACH COOK: First of all, I had
to get rid of all the demons in my head, walking back
to that locker room like, okay, are we really up 2-0
in the final against Texas? NARRATOR: Texas
bested the Big Red in five consecutive matches,
dating back to 2010, and not a single player
from this Husker team had ever defeated the Longhorns. MALE ANNOUNCER:
So when it’s Texas
and Nebraska in volleyball, it turns out to be special, and this one was as well. Early in the season, but
#3 Texas holds on to beat #4 Nebraska. COACH COOK: Texas has
set the bar really high. I mean, this is their
fifth Final Four. JERRITT ELLIOT: I think both
cities enjoy the competition when they come into town. They’re sell-outs. I think it’s one of
the great rivalries in college volleyball. COACH COOK: It seems like every
time we play it goes five. FEMALE ANNOUNCER: These two
programs met 20 years ago. In the final,
Nebraska beat Texas, and over the course of
the next two decades, they have built these
programs into powerhouses and turned their states a
little volleyball crazy. MALE ANNOUNCER: And it was
really that ultimate rivalry that elevated both programs
to national status. They were in the Big
12 for a long time, battling for titles
back and forth, became fierce rivals,
and the rivalry lives on, even though they play
in separate conferences. FEMALE ANNOUNCER: To
the third set we go. If Nebraska wins it, they
have the championship. COACH COOK: Expect Texas to make
a change, which they did. Texas rotated three positions,
got different match-ups. MALE ANNOUNCER: And
immediately it pays off. The hitters for Nebraska
are also not used to these blocking match-ups. FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Outside
to Prieto Cerame and already a couple of kills. JUSTINE WONG-ORANTES:
Okay, we’re down 0-3. We need to come into
the huddle, reset. Stick to our game plan,
stick to our side of the net. NARRATOR:
Nebraska fought back, eventually reclaiming the lead. The Huskers offense went
through the right arm of freshman Mikaela Foecke. JERRITT ELLIOT:
Foecke was on fire. She was the difference
maker in the match. And we didn’t have an answer. KENZIE MALONEY: Like, every time
she got outside, I was like, okay, this is a kill. She was like, just going crazy. And I think, yeah, she
definitely instilled a lot of confidence in
everyone that was on the court. NARRATOR: Foecke’s 19 kills
in the national championship made her the Final Four’s
most outstanding player. But even more remarkable
was fulfilling a promise she made to Coach Cook, even
before she arrived on campus. MIKAELA FOECKE: I just told him
that I knew we were gonna win, and that I knew it was
gonna be my freshman year, and we were gonna win
a national championship and that we were gonna
do it for the Husker fans and get it done in Omaha. COACH COOK: Kenzie
told me before Texas,
Coach, we’re winning 3-0, and of course Mikaela
all along was saying, we’re gonna win the
national championship. So, we got two freshman
who play major roles on your team thinking that
way, it’s pretty cool. NARRATOR: The
experience on the court was new for the
players, but match point for the national championship
felt all too familiar to Coach Cook. AMBER ROLFZEN:
He said after the game
in 2006, he called a time out at whatever point
it was, match point. COACH COOK: I had already worked
through this in my mind, and I called it a premonition, but I called a time out, and I said we’re
gonna run this play, which is the same play
we called in 2006. We called it A Go, and
we’re gonna set the go. AMBER ROLFZEN: They’re
going to run A Go and set a go to Jordan Larson, and
obviously she got the kill. And for our game
against Texas this year, he did the same thing. A Go, and Kelly was
able to set whoever, but she set Kelsey Fien, and it was basically
like a flashback. (crowd cheers) FEMALE ANNOUNCER: The
Huskers win it at home for their fourth
national championship. JOHN BISHOP: They did it! Nebraska national champs! In 2015, the Big Red is best! (upbeat music) KELLY HUNTER: It was amazing, I
just, eyes closed screaming, just so much emotion. That’s the best volleyball we had played all year. KENZIE MALONEY: It was
just a crazy feeling, like I actually won a
national championship. COACH COOK: History was made. But the crowd, I wanted
them to feel a part of this, as well, ’cause they
were a big part of it. AMBER ROLFZEN: Being
there, being as a team, knowing that our goal of the
whole year of getting Omaha was accomplished and also we
won the national championship. (team cheer) ALICIA OSTRANDER:
In 2006, they played in Omaha, won a national championship,
and I just thought it was a cool story to end my
career as a national champion in the same exact way, except
I wasn’t watching this time, I was actually
down on the court. ANNIKA ALBRECHT:
We got in the locker room,
and we turned on some music, and we just started dancing. We had like eight
boxes of pizza. TEAM: * We are the champions * Of the world AMBER ROLFZEN: Coach danced. TEAM: Coach, Coach,
Coach, Coach, Coach, Coach! (cheering) (laughs) LINDSAY PETERSON:
Well, I never thought I
would see Coach Cook dancing. COACH COOK: They got me out
of my comfort zone, and that is the
personality of that team, and they got it out of me. CHRIS TAMAS:
That was probably one of the
more fun moments of my life. (cheering) COACH COOK:
How good does this feel? (cheering) NARRATOR: Four
seniors left the Husker volleyball program as
national champions in 2015. Destination Omaha has set the
foundation for doing something which has never been
done in the history of Nebraska volleyball. KELLY HUNTER: We have some
unfinished business we need. We haven’t got a
Big 10 Championship, and then we talk about, too, Nebraska’s never won
back-to-back national
championships, and so, for us to be able to
accomplish that would be great. AMBER ROLFZEN: We all know
what it takes to win one, and I think we’re all ready
and willing and excited to try to be able
to win another one. COACH COOK:
It’ll be interesting to see
how Justine, Kadie, and Amber handle being seniors. There has been a definite sense
of urgency with those three, and I think they
bought into the fact that they can make history here. I think it’s gonna really
motivate and drive them. JUSTINE WONG-ORANTES: I
want to go out with a bang. I want to lead the team
to another championship and make Nebraska history. KADIE ROLFZEN: Being able
to know that we still have one more year to
hopefully do it again is just something that’s
really special and something that us three will always have. LINDSAY PETERSON:
What lies ahead for this
team is really exciting, and the pressure and the
talk is already there about repeating. It’s never easy, and
it’s never guaranteed, and so they have to
understand every day they have to work
for that final goal. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) Captioning by Finke Copyright 2016
NET Foundation for Television (upbeat music) This program was made possible
in part by Farmers Mutual of Nebraska.

David Frank