Houghtelling, Lynch Lead Huskers to Sweep of MU

Christina Houghtelling and Michelle Lynch turned in career nights, as third-ranked Nebraska claimed a share of the Big 12 Conference title with a 30-26, 30-27, 30-19 win over No. 25 Missouri Wednesday night at the Hearnes Center.

The Huskers, who improved to 24-1 with their 21st straight win, are now 17-0 in the conference and clinched at least a share of their seventh Big 12 title in nine seasons and 26th conference crown in 29 seasons of competition. Nebraska can clinch the outright crown with a win Saturday at Oklahoma, as Texas (14-3 Big 12) kept itself mathematically alive with a four-game win over Kansas in Austin.

Houghtelling, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Cambridge, was phenomenal, drilling a career-high 17 kills on just 23 attempts, a percentage that tied for 13th on Nebraska's single-match list. Each of her first nine attempts were kills, as she reached double figures in kills for the ninth time and topped her previous best of 15 against Oklahoma earlier this season.

Houghtelling helped Nebraska to a .402 hitting percentage, its highest total in the conference this season, as Dani Busboom totaled 48 assists and NU topped .300 hitting in all three games. Houghtelling led a balanced attack, as Melissa Elmer added 10 kills on .450 hitting and four blocks while Sarah Paven had 13 kills and hit .385 to lead NU to its 10th win against a ranked opponent.

While NU's offense was rolling all night, Michelle Lynch sparked the Huskers at the service line with a career-high six aces, one off the school record. Lynch keyed strong starts in games two and three as NU never trailed after game one. Her previous high in aces was five, accomplished twice last season.

The Huskers spotted Missouri an early lead before roaring back with a 30-26 victory in the opener. Nebraska hit a blistering.541 – its second-best single-game total of the season, as Pavan and Houghtelling combined for 14 kills. Missouri, which hit .400 in game one, led 21-16 before the Huskers rallied back, using a 5-1 run to close to within 22-21 on a Tracy Stalls kill. The Huskers would eventually take the lead for good at 24-23 on a kill by Pavan. MU got to within 28-26, but a Tiger hitting error and a kill by Pavan – her eighth of the game - closed out the game for Nebraska. Houghtelling had six kills in six swings for NU in the opener.

In game two, Houghtelling kept up her torrid pace, but Michelle Lynch was the Huskers' secret weapon in a 30-27 win. Lynch sparked the Huskers to an early 11-3 lead, serving three aces in a 6-0 NU run, as the Huskers led wire-to-wire. Missouri chipped away at NU's lead throughout the game, getting with within 28-27, but Houghtelling, who had four kills on six swings, gave NU a 29-27 lead before Melissa Elmer and Dani Busboom combined on a block of Na Yang at game point.

In game three, Lynch continued to sparkle, serving three straight points, including two straight aces, to help NU take a early 7-3 lead. The Huskers continued to build the lead, taking a 19-11 advantage after a kill by Ally Rebholz and were never threatened in posting its 20th sweep of the year.

Lindsey Noll had a team-best 11 kills on .733 hitting, as the Tigers' .312 team total was the highest against a Husker opponent this season. MU dropped to 17-7 overall and 12-5 in the league with the loss tonight.

The Huskers return to action on Saturday, Nov. 20, as they travel to Oklahoma. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and the match can be heard the Pinnacle Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln.

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