The No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers will play the No. 3 Illinois Fighting Illini for the third time this season on Thursday in the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball semifinals at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
The game is scheduled to start at about 9:30 p.m. ET (depending on when Stanford-BYU ends) and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch a live stream of the game (or DVR it) on your computer, phone, or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV
In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu also offers a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels, including ESPN. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet, or streaming device via the Hulu app.
If you can’t watch live, “Hulu with Live TV” also comes with 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage (with the ability to upgrade to “Enhanced Cloud DVR,” which gives you 200 hours of DVR space and the ability to fast forward through commercials).
ESPN is included in the “Sling Orange” channel bundle. You can sign up for a free seven-day trial right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet, or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
If you can’t watch live, you can get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage as an additional add-on.
Additionally, you can watch a live stream of the game on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet, or streaming device via the ESPN app. You’ll need to log in to a cable provider to watch this way, but if you don’t have that, you can still sign up for one of the above options and then use your Hulu or Sling TV credentials to sign in and watch on the ESPN digital platforms.
Illinois vs Nebraska Preview
The defending champions and winners of two of the last three titles, for a time it seemed Nebraska (28-6) wouldn’t reach their fourth consecutive Final Four.
After opening the season 14-1, the Cornhuskers took a nosedive with a 2-5 stretch that culminated in a 3-1 loss at home to the Fighting Illini (32-3).
“I think the losses in the middle of the season really changed a lot of things for us, put our season into perspective for us,” senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke said, according to NCAA.com.
Since then, the Huskers have won 12 straight matches, dropping just four sets total. They have yet to lose a set in the NCAA tournament, a span of four matches.
“It’s kind of like a redemption game for us,” Huskers middle blocker Lauren Stivrins said of the semifinals matchup, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. “I think we’ve grown so much as a team since then, so we’re excited to play them again.”
She added: “Our team is just getting it right now. We’re playing for the person next to us, and for ourselves, and we’re trying to prove a point right now that even though we won it last year, we’re not done. We can do it again.”
A month before that October loss to the Illini, the Huskers bested Illinois on the road.
“I just think we match up with them physically, and we play a similar style of volleyball,” Huskers coach John Cook said, per the Journal Star. “We’ve seen them twice, so we have a comfort level there. I think it’s a good matchup.”
Illinois also hasn’t lost since their most recent meeting with the Huskers.
“Our players know their players, and there is a familiarity,” Cook added. “We play them. We know what works, what doesn’t work, and we got to be prepared if something changes.”
The teams’ coaches are familiar with one another as well — Illinois head coach Chris Tamas served as a Nebraska assistant under Cook from 2015 to 2016.
“I wanted to keep him for another year or two,” Cook said, according to The Pantagraph, “but I’ve been in this long enough to know that a job like Illinois doesn’t come open all the time, that if he had a shot to get it, he had to go.”
In 2017, Tamas’ first season at the helm, the Illini went 23-11 and reached the Sweet 16.
“Really gracious in all of his time with me, what I’ve learned underneath him,” Tamas said of Cook, per The Pantagraph. “But, you know, now it’s time to beat him.”