Huskers Serve Up Rams, 3-0

Third-ranked Nebraska used another outstanding defensive effort and took advantage of exceptional serving from Michelle Lynch to sweep No. 9 Colorado State, 30-24, 30-21, 30-25 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,141 at the NU Coliseum Sunday evening.

The Huskers (22-1) held Colorado State, which was ranked seventh nationally in hitting, to a season-low .087, as Nebraska had a 16-8 advantage in blocks. Freshman Tracy Stalls accounted for a career-high nine block, while Melissa Elmer chipped in six more to help the Huskers to their 19th consecutive win.

While the defense carried Nebraska, the Huskers also got a big boost from junior Michelle Lynch, who nearly single-handedly served the Huskers back into game one. The Huskers trailed 18-12 before Lynch began NU's comeback with a service ace, one of three in a 5-0 run that put the Huskers back into the game.

Both coaches agreed the Lynch's serving spree was the turning point of the match.

 "Volleyball is a game of momentum, and we were shaky up until that point," Nebraska Coach John Cook said. "It helped us relax a little bit and got us back into the match."

 "We talked to the team all week that in these type of back-to-back matches, you never know when you will have an opportunity, and you always have to be ready. Michelle had an opportunity tonight, and she embraced it. She had a moment to come in there and turn it around for the Huskers, and she did a great job."

 "That five-point run dictated the ending of the first game," Colorado State coach Tom Hilbert said. "That was devastating to us."

Colorado State led 22-20 before the Huskers closed out game one with a 10-2 run, as Christina Houghtelling and Sarah Pavan had two kills each, while NU took advantage of several Colorado State hitting miscues. Dani Busboom continued NU's strong effort at the service line, scoring four points and keeping the Rams off balance as the Huskers took game one, 30-24.

Lynch, whose previous season high was two aces, spearheaded Nebraska's strong serving, as the Huskers totaled five aces and committed a season-low three service aces in the victory. NU also out-dug CSU, 53-46, as Amanda McCormick totaled a match-high 19 digs, including 10 in the opener.

Houghtelling got Nebraska going early in game two, leading the Huskers on an early 9-2 spurt in a 30-21 win. The 6-foot-2 sophomore accounted for NU's first four points and recorded seven of her 11 kills on .600 hitting in game two. Colorado State eventually closed to within 18-13, but Lynch helped NU run off three straight points to take a 21-13 lead, ending the Rams best opportunity in game two.

The teams battled back and forth in the finale. NU jumped to a 15-10 lead, only to see the Rams come back, using an 8-1 spurt to take an 18-16 advantage on a combined block by Dre Downs and Katie Jo Shirley-Cahooon. NU tied the match on consecutive kills by Jennifer Saleaumua and Houghtelling as the teams traded points before the Huskers seized momentum late. With the match tied at 24, NU went on a decisive 4-0 run as kills by Pavan and Stalls put NU up 26-24. The duo combined on a block of Tess Rogers before Pavan's kill put NU up 28-24, and NU closed the match moments later with a 30-25 victory.

Pavan led Nebraska with 13 kills and added six blocks and eight digs in the win. Tess Rogers led Colorado State with 12 kill, as the Rams dropped to 20-3 overall and saw their seven-match win streak halted.

The Huskers return to action on Friday, Nov. 12, when they host Kansas at the NU Coliseum beginning at 7 p.m. The game will be carried on the Pinnacle Sports Network, including B107.3 FM, and also shown state-wide on Nebraska Educational Television.

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