• Photo Showcase: NU vs. Washington
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SEATTLE — Nebraska's dreams of playing in a volleyball Final Four so near its campus in Lincoln were dashed Friday night.
Washington, not the second-seeded Huskers, advanced to the Elite Eight on Friday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, the Huskies' raucous home court, with a 25-16, 20-25, 25-21, 29-27 victory.
Nebraska (29-3) ended its season just short of Kansas City, a stunning loss for a team that had played so well since a loss at Texas in late October.
What happened after the match loomed large. In fact, a coaches' spat dominated the night's conversation almost as much as the match itself.
Only Nebraska coach John Cook and his counterpart from Washington, Jim McLaughlin, know for sure what happened during their post-match handshake.
What was visible to all was McLaughlin being physically restrained by a police officer and Nebraska assistant coaches from following Cook to the Huskers' locker room.
“Apparently (McLaughlin) was upset about something,'' Cook said. “I told him, ‘Nice match,' and told him the ball was out. He got upset.
“The ball was out. About 500 people told me from Washington as I walked out. They confirmed it. He got upset about something. I don't know what it was.''
Cook was referring to a moment in the fourth game with his team holding game point, 27-26, in which Washington outside hitter Kindra Carlson appeared to hit a shot that was out. But it was ruled inside the boundary line, tying the game.
During his meeting with news media members, McLaughlin refused to talk about the incident.
“I can't tell you,'' McLaughlin said. “I'd rather not tell you. I have no comment.''
Several times during his media conference, Cook cryptically referred to forces outside of the on-court action that influenced the outcome.
“I'm concerned about my team if they got a fair shot to win this match,'' he said. “That was a huge call.''
When asked directly about the officiating, Cook was vague, but his comments no less pointed.
“According to NCAA rules, I'm not allowed to comment on the officiating,'' Cook said. “They did a wonderful job.''
The coaches' squabble detracted from a match filled with dramatic tension and emotion.
Washington (24-8) rode the momentum of playing on its home court to an easy first-game victory.
Nebraska evened the match in the second game with a strong defensive effort, ending the set on a 17-7 run.
The match pivoted toward the Huskies in the third game.
After Nebraska took a 10-7 lead, Washington tied the set at 10 on Becky Perry's ace.
Until the Huskies took a 20-18 lead, the largest lead for either team during that stretch was a single point.
Washington closed the set, keyed by middle blocker Bianca Rowland, who produced a block that brought it to game point and a kill that gave the Huskies a 2-1 edge, breathing room that would prove decisive.
The fourth game was just as taut as the one before it, both teams coming up with one huge, momentum-swinging point after another.
Nebraska held game point twice, Washington match point three times, before Perry closed the match with her 18th kill of the night.
Washington advanced to Saturday's regional final against fourth-ranked and seventh-seeded California, which swept No. 12 Minnesota in Friday's first semifinal.
The Pac-10's Golden Bears have not dropped a set in tournament play.
California's 28th win equaled the highest single-season win total in program history.
It was also the most wins in a single season for coach Rich Feller, who is in his 26th year.
The Bears used a balanced attack and posted a .319 hitting percentage on 119 attacks to pick apart the Golden Gopher defense.
Senior setter Carli Lloyd put up 39 assists to go with seven digs and a team-high five blocks.
Washington (24-8) 25202529
Nebraska (29-3) 16252127
UW (kills-aces-blocks): Carlson 18-2-3, Barfield 5-0-1, Perry 18-2-0, Hagglund 0-0-2, Rowland 10-0-8, Munoz 6-0-4, Dunaway 0-0-0, Holford 0-1-0, Orlandini 0-0-0, Parker 0-0-0. Totals 57-5-18.
NU: Anderson 0-0-0, Wilberger 8-0-7, Delano 3-0-5, Broekhuis 11-0-3, Mueller 6-0-2, Werth 16-0-0, Banwarth 0-3-0, Licht 5-0-3, Mancuso 1-0-0, Cook 0-1-0. Totals 50-4-20.
Set assists: UW 53 (Hagglund 48, Holford 2, Perry 1, Munoz 1, Orlandini 1), NU 48 (Anderson 24, Cook 17, Banwarth 4, Wilberger 2, Delano 1).