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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Fort Smith’s Hannah Hogue and the Volleyball Razorbacks Take on Top-Seeded Nebraska Today in Elite Eight

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LINCOLN, NE – The Hogs will have their toughest test of the season so far as the third-seeded Hogs take on the first overall seed Nebraska in the final match of the NCAA Lincoln Regional on Saturday evening.

It’s the first time ever that Arkansas has advanced to a regional final, while Nebraska has appeared in nine of the last 10. The Huskers received the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and have been ranked the No. 1 team in the country since Oct. 23. Their only loss this season came at the hands of Big Ten opponent foe Wisconsin in a sweep. The Hogs played the Badgers twice in August and went 0-2, one loss in five sets and the other in a sweep.

The Razorbacks will look to continue a storybook season as the only 3-seed remaining in the tournament and the only SEC team left in the field. Prior to 2023, only one Arkansas team had ever advanced to the round of 16 and this group is the only one to be one of the last eight teams standing. The team has its most wins since 1999 at 28, which now includes the team’s first over Kentucky in 11 years, which came in the round of 16 in Lincoln.

While the Hogs have seen excellent fan support over the course of the season, Saturday’s match is sure to be the best yet as the Huskers average over 8,500 fans per match at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, and saw 8,580 in attendance for their midday regional semifinal match-up against Georgia Tech on Thursday, which went down as a sweep for Nebraska.

Something the Hogs and Huskers do have in common is their progression as the season wore on: Through the first 10 coaches polls, Arkansas and Nebraska were the only teams to never fall in the rankings, and the Huskers never did, rising from fifth to first over 15 weeks. While the Hogs did move three spots between weeks 10 and 12, they rose a total of 17 spots from No. 25 to their highest rank of the year, No. 8, which ties for the largest jump of any program this season.

Saturday’s regional final is slated for 5 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPNU. The winner will move on to the NCAA Volleyball Championship in Tampa, Fla., set for Dec. 14-17.

Scouting the Series: Nebraska

  • Arkansas’ match-up with Nebraska will mark the third time the team has played the No. 1 team in the country this year, as the Hogs played then-No. 1 Wisconsin twice in August
  • The two have only played each other three times ever, the last in 2016, and only once in the NCAA Tournament
  • The Huskers will be the fourth Big Ten opponent Arkansas has seen this season, the Hogs are 2-2 against B1G teams

Stat Leaders – Nebraska

  • Kills/set: Merritt Beason | 3.83 | 425
  • Assists/set: Bergen Reilly | 10.67 | 1184
  • Digs/set: Lexi Rodriguez | 3.57 | 396
  • Blocks/set: Bekka Allick | 1.39 | 89
  • Aces/set: Harper Murray | 0.31 | 34

Stat Leaders – Arkansas

  • Kills/set: Jill Gillen | 4.17 | 513
  • Assists/set: Hannah Hogue | 11.18 | 1375
  • Digs/set: Courtney Jackson | 4.03 | 496
  • Blocks /set: Zoi Evans | 1.08 | 129
  • Aces/set: Jill Gillen | 0.42 | 52

Note to Our Readers: The previous story was sourced directly and in its entirety from the University of Arkansas Office of Communications, Emily Polglaze.

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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