Huskers looking to win conference outright vs OU

Huskers will look to win their 26th conference crown in 29 years of competing.


Match: #26:
No. 3 Nebraska (24-1, 17-0 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma (11-15, 3-14)
McCasland Field House • Saturday, Nov. 20 • 7 p.m.

Radio: Pinnacle Sports Network (B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Omaha) and Huskers.com
Live Internet Video: Live Video Streaming on HuskersNside.com, for more info, visit Huskers.com
Live Stats: Huskers.com
Series Record: Nebraska leads, 61-6, dating back to Nov. 8, 1975
Last Meeting: Nebraska won, 3-0 (30-17, 30-22, 30-16) at the NU Coliseum on Oct. 9, 2004
Coach Cook vs. Oklahoma: 9-0

Match: #27:
No. 3 Nebraska vs. No. 11 Texas (22-3, 14-3 Big 12)
NU Coliseum • Wednesday, Nov. 24 • 7 p.m.

Tickets: Sold Out (54th consecutive sellout)
Television: Shown live on Nebraska Educational Television and tape-delayed on College Sports Television (CSTV) with the first airing set for Thursday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. (central)

Radio: Pinnacle Sports Network (B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Omaha) and Huskers.com
Live Internet Video: Live Video Streaming on HuskersNside.com, for more info, visit Huskers.com
Live Stats: Huskers.com
Series Record: Nebraska leads, 23-11, dating back to Oct. 17, 1981
Last Meeting: Nebraska won, 3-2 (21-30, 31-33, 30-27, 30-23, 16-14) in Austin on Oct. 20, 2004
Coach Cook vs. Texas: 10-0

No. 3 Huskers Look for Outright Conference Crown vs. Sooners
The third-ranked Nebraska volleyball team looks to claim the outright Big 12 title Saturday evening when the Huskers travel to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners. First serve from Norman, Okla., is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried on selected Pinnacle Sports Network affiliates, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln. Fans who have high-speed Internet access can also watch Saturday's match live on the Internet at HuskersNside.com, as every regular-season match will be carried on the site.

The Huskers, who have won 21 straight matches dating back to Sept. 10, clinched at least a share of the conference crown on Wednesday with a sweep of No. 25 Missouri in Columbia. The title is the Huskers' seventh in Big 12 action and their 26th conference crown in 29 seasons. With three matches left in the conference, one Husker win or one Texas loss will give NU the outright crown. The Huskers meet No. 11 Texas on Wednesday before closing the regular season at No. 13 Texas A&M on Nov. 27.


Storylines
•- Nebraska has won its last 14 matches against the Sooners - all by sweeps - dating back to the 1997 season. In fact, it has been over 10 years since a match in the series has gone to four games, a four-game Husker win on Nov. 26, 1994.

•- Nebraska will be looking for its 21st straight Big 12 win on Wednesday, as NU has won its last 20 conference matches dating back to Nov. 23, 2003.

•- Nebraska has improved its serving in recent contests, averaging 2.18 service aces per game over the last eight matches, lifting its season average from 1.26 per game (10th in the Big 12) to 1.56 SA/gm (fifth). In Big 12 matches, Nebraska's numbers are more striking, averaging 2.32 aces per match over the last six Big 12 matches,  more than double NU's average from the first half of league play.

Big 12 Matches: Second Time Around
Matches Service Aces
Matches 1-10    1.03
Matches 11-16   2.32

• - Nebraska has held six opponents below .000 hitting this season, including Iowa State, which was held to (-.089) hitting on Oct. 30. Iowa State's -.089 hitting was the lowest against a Husker team in a league match since the Big 12 was formed in 1996. The Huskers led the nation, holding foes to a .096 hitting percentage.

• - The Huskers remained third in Monday's  CSTV/USA Today Coaches poll, and are one of five Big 12 teams ranked this week, joining No. 11 Texas, No. 13 Texas A&M, No. 20 Kansas State and No. 25 Missouri.

•- Jennifer Saleaumua is in fifth place on NU's career digs list with 1,067 entering Saturday's match against Missouri. The junior outside hitter is one dig away from tying  Val Novak (1,068, 1987-90) for fourth place on the Husker career chart.

•- Sarah Pavan has five 20-kill efforts this season, which is the most since Laura Pilakowski had five during the Huskers' national championship run in 2000. In fact, Pavan's total tops the entire team total of 20-kill efforts during the 2003 (three), 2002 (none) and 2001 (four) seasons.

• - Nebraska has used its depth to its advantage, as six players (Sarah Pavan, Christina Houghtelling, Melissa Elmer, Jennifer Saleaumua, Tracy Stalls and  Dani Mancuso) have led or tied for the team lead in kills over the last 11 matches.

Husker Probable Starters
L - #1 Amanda McCormick (5-8, So., Muncie, Ind.)  - Co-captain who is in her second year as a starter at libero and leads the Big 12 with 4.54 digs per game. She has reached double figures in her last 14 matches and 23 times in 25 matches this season. Her 25 digs against Texas A&M on Sept. 25, tied Mandy Monson for the second-most digs by a Husker in a three-game match. McCormick, who is bidding to become the first Husker to lead the Big 12 in digs, had 11 digs in the win over Missouri on Wednesday and also tops the Big 12 with 4.60 digs per game in league play.

MB - #8 Melissa Elmer (6-2, Jr., Fort Wayne, Ind.) - Returning AVCA All-American who averages 2.80 kills and a national best 1.89 blocks per game. Elmer tops NU in hitting percentage (.352), an average that ranks sixth in the Big 12. She has three matches of at least 10 blocks this season, including a season and Big 12-high 12 blocks and nine kills in Friday's win at Kansas. She has moved from 10th to seventh on NU's career block list over the last two matches and is 17 away from tying All-American Megan Korver for sixth on that list. Elmer has reached double figures in kills 10 times, including five 13-kill efforts, most recently against Texas Tech on Nov. 3. Elmer had 10 kills on .450 hitting and four blocks vs. Missouri on Wednesday. She earned All-Big 12 honors in 2003, leading NU with 1.59 blocks per game along with a .352 hitting percentage. Elmer, who was named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by the league coaches, spent the spring working with the U.S. National Training Team.

MB - #11 Tracy Stalls (6-3, Fr., Arvada, Colo.) - Stalls has started 22 matches at middle blocker and is third in the Big 12 (and 10th nationally) with 1.64 blocks per game. She leads all Big 12 freshman in both blocks and hitting percentage (.319, eighth) and has four double-digit kill efforts this season. She has had at least five blocks in 16 matches, including a season-high nine against No. 9 Colorado State on Nov. 7 and Kansas last Friday. She is averaging 1.93 blocks/gm over her last four matches. Stalls notched her first career double-double at Baylor on Oct. 23 with 10 kills and 10 digs. She hit a career-best .824, including a career-high 14 kills against Iowa State on Oct. 16. The effort tied for fourth on NU's all-time list and the highest percentage in the Big 12 in 2004. Stalls served a two-year stint in the U.S. National Developmental Program competing with the U.S. National Team in several tournaments, including the 2003 Pan American Games and the 2004 Yeltsin Cup.

S - #18 Dani Busboom (5-11, So., Cortland, Neb.) - Busboom enters Saturday's match ranked second in the Big 12 with 13.20 assists per game while averaging 2.48 digs and 0.60 blocks per game. She leads the team with 12 double-doubles (assists-digs), including a 50-assist, 11-dig effort vs. Kansas State on Nov. 6.

Her 66 assists at KSU on Oct. 13 tied for 17th on NU's all-time single-match list (seventh in four-game matches) and is one of seven 50-assist matches this season. She guides an offense that ranked second in the Big 12 in hitting percentage (.283) and third kills per game (17.07) - totals that rank in the top-20 nationally. She totaled 700 assists in 2003, which is the second most by any Husker freshman, while splitting time with Michelle Lynch in the 6-2 offense.

OPP - #9 Sarah Pavan (rhymes with Have-in): 6-5, Fr., Kitchener, Ontario - The Big 12 Preseason co-Freshman of the Year, Pavan is fourth in the Big 12 with a team-best 4.46 kills per game. She also ranks  10th in the league in blocks per game (1.17). Pavan has led NU in kills 16 times, including five 20-kill efforts - as she has been in double figures 21 times in 25 matches. Her best effort of the year came in a sweep of No. 11 Texas A&M on Sept. 25, when she had 23 kills on .500 hitting. She also had 23 kills on .356 hitting in a win at No. 16 Kansas State on Oct. 13 and a season-high 24 kills vs. Florida A&M and Baylor. She had 13 kills and hit .385 in Wednesday's win over Missouri. Pavan recorded her first double-double vs. FAMU when she set highs in kills (24) and digs (15). Considered by many to be the nation's top freshman, Pavan has been a member of the Canadian National Team since July of 2003 - at age 16.

OH - #26 Jennifer Saleaumua (Sal-ee-ah-MOO-uh); 5-11, Jr., National City, Calif. - Two-time All-Big 12 outside hitter who is second on the team in digs (4.00) and kills (3.12) per game. She is also second on the team with eight double-doubles, giving her 31 in her career. She ranks fifth on NU's all-time digs list (1,067) and recently became the first Husker to reach 1,000 digs before her senior year. Saleaumua earned Big 12 Player-of-the-Week honors on Oct. 25, highlighted by a 19-kill performance at No. 10 Texas, when she hit .450 and added 11 digs. She had 15 kills on .444 hitting and 14 digs against Kansas State on Nov. 6 and had nine kills, 12 digs and matched her career best with seven blocks vs. Kansas on Nov. 6. She led the Huskers in kills (3.27) and digs (3.90) per game in 2003. Her 441 digs were a school record, breaking the previous mark of 390 by Kate Crnich in 1996.

OH - #7 Dani Mancuso (Man-CUE-so): 6-2, So., Omaha, Neb. - Mancuso splits time at outside hitter, ranking third on the team with 2.94 kills per game while adding 2.29 digs and a team-high 0.33 aces per game.  Mancuso shined in NU's win at No. 16 Kansas State on Oct. 13 with a career-high 22 kills on .559 hitting. She made her first Big 12 start of the year on Oct. 27 versus Colorado, delivering a match-high 18 kills and seven digs while hitting .424. She also had her first career double-double vs. Florida A&M on Sept. 10 with 16 kills and 11 digs. She nearly recorded her second double-double of the year with eight kills on .400 hitting and nine digs in the win over Kansas State on Nov. 6. As a freshman, she  started NU's final 10 contests in 2003, averaging 2.01 kills and 1.72 digs per game in that stretch.

-or- #3 Christina Houghtelling (Hoe-tell-ing): 6-2, So., Cambridge, Neb. - Sophomore who moved from middle blocker to outside hitter in 2004 and has made 17 starts, averaging 2.87 kills, 2.11 digs and 0.27 service aces per game. She has nine matches with at least 10 kills, including a career-best 17 kills against Missouri on Wednesday. Her .739 total on 23 attempts was the highest ever by a Husker with at least 15 kills. She had a then-career high 15 kills on .433 hitting in the first meeting with OU on Oct. 9. She provided a spark off the bench against No. 9 Colorado State on Nov. 7 with 11 kills on .391 hitting. Houghtelling had her first career double-double against Baylor on Oct. 6 with 12 kills and a career-best 13 digs.

Scouting Oklahoma
Under the direction of first-year coach Santiago Restrepo, Oklahoma comes into Saturday's matchup  with an 11-15 mark, including a 3-14 record in conference play. The Sooners are in 10th place in the league, a half-game behind Baylor for ninth.

Restrepo came to Oklahoma after three seasons at Southern Miss, where he guided the Golden Eagles to a school record 27-6 mark in 2003, his third and final year at the school.

The Sooners are led by outside hitter Joanna Schmitt, who ranks eighth in the league with an average of 4.03 kills per game. Schmitt is one of three Sooners averaging more than 2.50 kills per game, joining Keri Coats (2.74) and Gabriela Tonan (2.61).

OU also has three players averaging over a block per game, including Laura Tomes, who is ninth in the league in that category (1.26 b/gm).

Nebraska-Oklahoma Series
Nebraska has had the best of the all-time series with Oklahoma, holding a commanding 61-6 lead in a series that dates back to 1975. The Huskers have won the last 14 matches over Oklahoma - all by sweeps -  dating back to the 1997 season. Nebraska is 22-4 all-time in Norman.

Last Matchup
        Christina Houghtelling and Dani Mancuso combined for 22 kills on .441 hitting, as No. 5 Nebraska swept Oklahoma, 30-17, 30-22, 30-16 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,108 at the NU Coliseum on Oct. 9.

Houghtelling established a career high with a match-high 15 kills on .433 hitting and nine digs, while Mancuso came off the bench to deliver seven kills and hit .463 while playing the entire third game. The Huskers outhit the Sooners, .351-.086 in posting their 14th straight win over Oklahoma.

 Freshman Sarah Pavan joined Houghtelling in double figures in kills with 14 on .458 hitting, while Melissa Elmer added seven kills and five blocks.

Missouri Recap
        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.

        Houghtelling, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Cambridge, was phenomenal, drilling a career-high 17 kills on just 23 attempts, a percentage that ranked 12th 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 Pavan 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.

Huskers Win With Defense
        One of the main reasons for Nebraska's success this season is its play on the defensive side of the court. The Huskers are holding opponents to a league-low .096 hitting percentage and have allowed only three opponents – Notre Dame (9/4), Texas (10/20) and Missouri (11/17)– to hit above .200. In fact, the Huskers are on pace to break the school record for lowest opponent hitting percentage in a season, which is .106 in 2001.

Top Defenses (CSTV Top 25 Teams, totals of 11/18)
Rank    Name    Opponent Hitting Pct.
1.      Nebraska        .096
2.      Florida A&M     .123
3.      Florida .129
4.      Utah    .135
5.      Louisville      .137

        The Huskers have been even stingier in conference play, holding nine of their 17 opponents to .100 or below, including four in negative numbers. Under John Cook, the Huskers have held 14 opponents to a negative hitting percentage - including six this season.

Lowest Hitting Percentages vs. NU since 2000
Date    Opponent         Pct.
10/3/00 Creighton       - .105
10/30/04        Iowa State      - .089
9/29/02 Creighton       - .068
9/4/00  Oral Roberts    - .066
11/3/04 Texas Tech      - .055
11/13/02        Iowa State      -.051
9/29/04 Kansas  -.046
9/18/04 Texas Tech      -.032
Husker Block is Best in the Land
        After a one-year hiatus where the Huskers were sixth nationally in blocking, the 2004 Huskers are back on top of the NCAA rankings in blocking, where they have been for three of the past four seasons.

        NU leads the nation in blocking in the latest NCAA rankings and comes into Saturday's match averaging 3.99 blocks per game. The Huskers have out-blocked 24 of 25 opponents this season (all except Baylor on Oct. 27) and 30 of the last 31 foes dating back to last season.

        NU also features two of the nation's top middle blockers in All-American Melissa Elmer, who leads the country in blocking (1.89 blocks per game), and freshman Tracy Stalls, who was 10th nationally at 1.64 blocks/game, a total that ranks second among the national leaders for freshmen.  Nebraska is the only school in Division I with two players ranked in the top-20 nationally in blocks. Among conference players, Elmer leads the Big 12 in blocks, while Stalls is third in the league in that category.

NCAA Blocking Leaders (Nov. 15)
Rank    Name    G       BS      BA      Per Game
1       Nebraska        79      67      507     4.06
2       SMS     97      51      579     3.51
3       Louisville      87      78      441     3.43
4       Stanford        95      126     390     3.38
5       Northern Iowa   101     45      592     3.38

Huskers Look for Sellout #54 vs. Texas
        Nebraska will carry a streak of 53 consecutive sellouts at the NU Coliseum into the season finale against Texas on Nov. 24. The streak began with a 10-match stretch to close the 2001 season and extended through the 2002 and 2003 campaigns. The last non-sellout came on Sept. 25, 2001, against Creighton (3,867).  Nebraska ranks second nationally in total attendance, averaging 4,369 fans per match this season, including a crowd of 7,276 at the Devaney Center on Oct 16.

It's All About Balance 
        Nebraska's offensive success in 2004 has featured a balanced attack. While Sarah Pavan is fourth in the Big 12 in kills at 4.46 per game - the highest total since Nancy Metcalf's school-record 5.09 kills per game in 1999 - she is far from a one-woman show, as Nebraska has five hitters averaging at least 2.80 kills per game. In addition to Pavan, Jennifer Saleaumua averages 3.12 kills per game, while Dani Mancuso (2.94), Christina Houghtelling (2.87) and Melissa Elmer (2.80) have been above 3.00 kills per game for most of this season.

What a Difference a Year Makes
        While Nebraska struggled at times with a youthful lineup in 2003, the dividends have paid off this season, as the Huskers enter the weekend with a 24-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking. NU's totals in nearly every category have made significant gains over 2003. The Huskers' 17.07 kills per game are the most since 1994 (17.14), while the dig total would shatter the school mark of 17.27 set in 1993.

Team Comparison (2003 vs. 2004)
Yr.     K/gm    Pct.    A/Gm    B/gm    Opp Pct.        SA/gm   D/gm   

'03     16.37   .249    14.94   3.17    .133    1.92    16.59

'04     17.07   .283    15.50   3.99    .096    1.56    17.34

Saleaumua Climbs Up Record Chart
        One career mark that could be in jeopardy this season is the school record for career digs. Jennifer Saleaumua comes into Saturday's match with 1,067 digs, and is 44 away from the school record of 1,111 by Lindsay Wischmeier. Saleaumua is sixth in the Big 12 in digs (4.00 per game) and has averaged 3.65 digs per game during her three years at NU.

        Saleaumua, a two-time All-Big 12 outside hitter, topped the 1,000 career dig mark on Oct. 30 at Iowa State, becoming the first Husker to reach that plateau before her senior year. She is 10 digs away from tying All-American Val Novak (1,068, 1987-90) for fourth and 16 away from matching Eileen Shannon (1,074, 1989-92) for third on NU's career list.

        With 909 career kills, Saleaumua is also on pace to become just the second Husker - joining Eileen Shannon who had 1,521 kills and 1,074 digs from 1989 to 1992 - to record both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs at Nebraska.

Husker All-Time Dig Chart
Rank    Name    Yrs.    Total
1.      Lindsay Wischmeier      1999-02 1,111
2.      Angie Oxley     1997-00 1,086
3.      Eileen Shannon  1989-92 1,074
4.      Val Novak       1987-90 1,068
5.      Jennifer Saleaumua      2002-Pres.      1,058
 
Elmer Puts Up All-America Numbers
        After earning second-team AVCA All-America honors in 2003, Melissa Elmer has continued to make strides this fall. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker was chosen as the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year this fall and has been an instrumental part of NU's success in 2004. She leads the Huskers in blocks (1.91/gm) and hitting percentage (.352) and is fifth in kills (2.80). Elmer led the nation in blocking in this week's NCAA rankings after her 12-block effort against Kansas on Nov. 11

        Elmer nearly set a school and Big 12 record against Kansas, recording 12 blocks in the three-game sweep. Her total was the highest in the Big 12 this year and ranked 11th among all matches (third in three-game matches).

        She is ranked 10th in total blocks (472) and  seventh in block assists (427), as she jumped from 10th to seventh over the last two matches, passing Karen Dahlgren (418, 1983-86), Allison Weston (423, 1992-95) and Greichaly Cepero (423, 1999-02).

        Elmer is averaging 2.75 kills and 1.57 blocks per game, while her .360 career hitting percentage would rank among the top performers in NU history.


Fabulous Freshmen
        The Huskers have the luxury of two of the nation's top freshmen in right side hitter Sarah Pavan and middle blocker Tracy Stalls. The duo, along with middle blocker Meghan Smith, helped NU earn the tag of the nation's top class prior to the season and have played a major role in NU's No. 3 national ranking this week.

        Pavan, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Kitchener, Ontario, is fifth in the Big 12 in kills per game (4.46) and 10th in blocks (1.17).  She has topped the Huskers in kills 16 times, including a career-high 24 kills against Florida A&M on Sept. 10 and at Baylor on Oct. 23. Pavan has five matches with at least 20 kills, including three against ranked teams. She dominated in a three-game sweep of No. 11 Texas A&M on Sept. 22, when she drilled 23 kills on .500 hitting. Her 24 kills against Florida A&M on Sept. 10 were the third-most by a Husker in the rally scoring era and the most since U.S. Olympian Nancy Metcalf had 25 against Florida in the 2001 NCAA Regional Final. Pavan is also second on the team with 18 aces.

        She enters the final weeks of the regular season in position to rewrite the NU freshman record books, as her 366 kills already rank second among Husker freshmen. Over the last 21 years, only one freshman - Eileen Shannon in 1989 - has led the Huskers in kills, as she holds freshman marks in both kills (479) and kills per game (4.24), totals that Pavan is on pace to erase from the NU record book this fall.

        Here is how Pavan's 2004 totals compare to the freshman totals of the nine Husker outside hitters who have earned All-America honors during their careers.


Pavan vs. Husker All-Americans
Player  Yr.     K/gm    Pct.    A/Gm    B/gm    D/gm
Pavan   '04     4.46    .317    0.29    1.17    1.43
Pilakowski      '00     1.44    .133    0.11    0.33    0.33
Meendering      '97     1.05    .208    0.05    0.39    0.39
Reitsma '94     0.97    .490    0.06    0.26    0.06
Weston  '92     2.95    .293    0.39    1.10    1.62
Aspergren       '91     0.08    -.200   0.00    0.00    0.18
Shannon '89     4.24    .287    0.49    0.65    2.50
Hall    '88     1.21    .101    0.27    0.38    0.34
Kruse   '88     1.55    .166    0.76    0.46    0.61
E. Schoenwise   '83     0.75    .200    N/A     0.38    0.25

Fab Frosh: Part 2
        While Pavan has enjoyed one of the most dominant freshman campaigns in school history, Tracy Stalls has also put together an impressive rookie campaign.       

        The 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Arvada, Colo., ranks third in the Big 12 in blocks (1.14) - ranking 10th nationally this week - and eighth in hitting percentage (.319), totals that lead all conference freshmen. She leads NU with 20 service aces and is third in assists. She has had eight or more blocks in six matches this season, including a career-high nine against Colorado State on Nov. 7 and against Kansas on Nov. 11. She has also reached double figures in kills four times, including 12 kills and eight blocks at No. 16 Kansas State on Oct. 13 before posting her career high with 14 kills on 17 swings - an incredible .824 hitting night - versus Iowa State on Oct. 16.

        With 1.64 blocks per game, she ranks third on NU's all-time freshman chart, as her total is the most since three-time All-American Amber Holmquist averaged 1.75 blocks per game in 1999. Her total also ranks second nationally among all Division I freshmen.

National Freshman Blocking Leaders
Rank    Name            Total
1.      Annalisa Muratore, Santa Clara  1.77
2.      Danielle Brazda, Northern Iowa  1.68
3.      Tracy Stalls, Nebraska          1.64

        The third member of the Husker freshman class, middle blocker Meghan Smith, is a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 recruit and provides depth at middle blocker behind Elmer and Stalls and has appeared in seven matches. She recorded her first career kill against Iowa State on Oct. 16.

2004 Top Recruiting Classes
No.     PrepVolleyball.com      Volleyball Magazine
1.      Nebraska        Nebraska       
2.      Florida Florida
3.      USC     USC
4.      Ohio State      Ohio State
5.      Washington      Michigan

Busboom Assists Husker Attack 
        With the switch back to the 5-1 offense in 2004, Dani Busboom has taken advantage of her expanded role at the center of Nebraska's attack. Busboom is third in the Big 12, averaging 13.22 assists per game. If she continues her current pace, it would be the highest average by a Husker setter since 1998 when Fiona Nepo averaged 13.79 assists per game.

        Busboom, who ranked 26nd nationally in assists in last week's NCAA stats, is the only setter in the league to have 50 assists in a three-game match more than once this season, accomplishing the feat against Western Michigan (9/4), Missouri (9/15) and Kansas State (11/6).

        She has eight 50-assist contests in 2004, including a career-high 66 assists - the most by a Husker setter in the rally scoring era - at Kansas State on Oct 13. It ranked as the 17th-highest total in school history and the most since Greichaly Cepero had 71 against Texas A&M in 2000.

        An outside hitter until her senior year of high school, Busboom has a team-high 12 double-doubles this season, including four in her last six matches.

Rank and File
        With the No. 3 ranking in this week's poll, Nebraska is one of two teams to be ranked in the USA Today/CSTV Coaches poll for all 314 weeks of its existence. The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 for 280 of the 312 weeks, which ranks second behind Stanford's 285. NU has spent 38 weeks in the top spot, and its most recent No. 1 ranking was Sept. 24, 2001.

Huskers Dig in Defensively
        One significant improvement for Nebraska has been on the defensive end. The Huskers, who were second in the league with 16.59 digs per game, have upped that total to a league-high 17.34 digs per game in 2004.  Nebraska is on pace to break the school mark of 17.27 digs per game set in 1993 and rank among the top-five totals in Big 12 history. Individually, both Amanda McCormick (4.54 digs per game) and Jennifer Saleaumua (4.00) are above the school record of 3.90 digs per game set by Saleaumua last season.

NU-Texas: An Instant Husker Classic
        While Nebraska has more than 900 wins in program history, No. 919 will hold a special place in the hearts of many Husker fans, as Nebraska rallied from an 0-2 deficit to defeat No. 10 Texas in five games in Austin on Oct. 20.  The win marked only the eighth time in school history that NU had overcome an 0-2 deficit and the first since a five-game win at Texas Tech on Nov. 21, 1997. In fact, it was only the second time that NU had mounted such a comeback on the road against a top-10 team, as the Huskers also came back for a five-game win at No. 7 Illinois during the 1990 season.



NU All-Time Comebacks from 0-2 Deficit
Date    Opponent        Ranking Scores
11/5/88 vs. Texas       5/6     12-15, 11-15, 15-5, 15-13, 15-9
9/22/89 vs. Kentucky    7/-     14-16, 12-15, 15-12, 15-10, 15-12
9/21/90 at Illinois     1/7     6-15, 13-15, 15-9, 15-8, 15-8
11/13/90        at Colorado     2/-     5-15, 11-15, 15-3, 15-7, 15-5
8/31/91 vs. Texas Tech  3/20    13-15, 12-15, 15-5, 15-10, 15-10
11/27/92        vs. Oklahoma    7/-     11-15, 8-15, 15-4, 15-0, 15-7
11/21/97        at Texas Tech   11/-    8-15, 13-15, 15-10, 15-6, 15-10
10/20/04        at Texas        4/10    21-30, 31-33, 30-27, 30-23, 16-14

Stalls Nearly Perfect vs. Iowa State
        Middle blocker Tracy Stalls enjoyed a nearly perfect evening in NU's win over Iowa State on Oct. 16. The 6-foot-3 freshman from Arvada, Colo., eclipsed her career high for the second straight match, finishing with 14 kills on 17 attempts. The .824 percentage is the highest single-match mark in the Big 12 this year and ties for fourth on NU's single-match list. While NU's record book has a 10-kill minimum, the NCAA classifies by attempts. Her effort would be tied for first among NU players with a minimum of 15 attempts.

Highest NU Percentages (min. 15 attacks)
Rk.     Pct. (K-E-TA)   Player, Opponent        Date
t1.     .824 (14-0-17)  Tracy Stalls vs. Iowa State     10/16/04
t1.     .824 (14-0-17)  Megan Korver at Oklahoma        10/3/98

3.      .800 (12-0-15)  Lori Endicott vs. Miami (Ohio)  11/29/86
4.      .778 (14-0-18)  Angie Oxley at Kansas   10/2/98
5.      .765 (13-0-17)  Karen Dahlgren vs. Missouri     11/16/85

Huskers Have 20-20 Vision vs. KSU
        Nebraska's win at No. 16 Kansas State on Oct. 13 featured a first in the John Cook era at Nebraska, as two players recorded 20-or-more kills. In fact, Nebraska had not had two players record 20-or-more kills in a match since the Nov. 20, 1998, when Nancy Meendering (30) and Megan Korver (20) both eclipsed the 20-kill mark against Texas A&M.

Double-20 Kill Efforts (since 1997)
Players Opponent        Date
Pavan (23) & Mancuso (22)       vs. Kansas St.  10/13/04
Meendering (30) & Korver (20)   vs. TAMU        11/20/98
Korver (23) & Meendering (20)   vs. Texas       10/16/98
Reitsma (28) & Korver (22)      vs. Pacific     9/6/97

Houghtelling Shines in Shift Outside
        One of the pleasant surprises in 2004 has been the play of outside hitter Christina Houghtelling, The sophomore from Cambridge, Neb., began her career at Nebraska as a middle blocker before a knee injury curtailed a promising 2003 season. This fall, she was shifted outside and has been a force for Nebraska. She has had nine matches with at least 10 kills, including a career-high 17 on 23 swings against Missouri on Wednesday night. Houghtelling had 12 kills in the win over Texas in Austin on Oct. 20 and 11 kills on .391 hitting in the win over Colorado State on Nov. 7.

Houghtelling in 2003 and 2004
Season  K/Gm    10-kill gm      SA/Gm   D/gm    Pts/gm
2003    1.67    0       0.38    0.72    2.49
2004    2.87    9       0.27    2.11    3.36


Highest NU Percentages (min. 15 kills)
Rk.     Pct. (K-E-TA)   Player, Opponent        Date
1.      .739 (17-0-23)  Christina Houghtelling vs. MU   11/17/04
2.      .737 (15-1-19)  Melissa Elmer vs. Dayton        12/6/043
3.      .700 (16-2-20)  Amber Holmquist vs. Kansas      11/20/02
        .700 (15-1-20)  Amber Holmquist vs. Baylor      10/19/02

Taking on the Best
        Nebraska is a perfect 10-0 against ranked teams entering next week's match against No. 11 Texas and No. 13 Texas A&M. With its win over No. 9 Colorado State on Nov. 6, Nebraska posted its first win over a top-10 team since the 2001 season when the Huskers defeated No. 7 Florida in the NCAA Regional final.

Cook's Winning Ways
        Nebraska Coach John Cook has been amazingly successful during his five seasons at the helm of the Husker program, posting a 148-10 record (.937 winning percentage).

        All nine losses prior to this season have come against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, including the eventual NCAA champion in both 2001 (Stanford) and 2002 (USC). In the Big 12, Cook has enjoyed even greater success, going 82-3 in his four-plus seasons. Nebraska swept through the Big 12 in 2000, 2001 and 2002 before seeing its 77-match Big 12 winning streak (dating back to 1999) end in a loss to Kansas State on Oct. 11, 2003.

        Cook was the AVCA Coach of the Year in 2000 after leading Nebraska to a 34-0 season and a national title. He also was named the 2001 Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Best Records in Division I (Since 2000, 11/18)
No.     Team    Record  .Pct.
1.      Nebraska        148-10  .937
2.      Hawaii  153-11  .933
3.      USC     136-12  .919
4.      Florida 150-15  .909
5.      Northern Iowa   143-24  .856

Huskers Play Home Away From Home
        In a way to thank the fans from western Nebraska for their support over the years, Nebraska headed west on Oct. 10, playing Creighton at North Platte High School. The match, NU's first home match outside of Lincoln since 1992, sold out in 50 minutes, as 2,400 people came out to see a match-up between the state's two Division I programs, the best-attended neutral-site match in the NCAA this season.

All-America U
        Melissa Elmer continued Nebraska's remarkable streak of AVCA All-Americans by earning second-team accolades in 2003. With Elmer's selection, Nebraska has had at least one All-American every season since 1983, a total of 21 straight seasons, including 11 in Coach John Cook's four seasons at Nebraska. A total of 23 players have combined to earn 46 AVCA All-America certificates. Nebraska leads the nation in both categories.

Husker Red, White and Blue
        Nebraska continued its Olympic tradition in 2004 with Nancy (Meendering) Metcalf's selection to the U.S. Olympic team. A three-time All-American at Nebraska, Metcalf became the third Husker to make an Olympic team, joining Lori Endicott, who competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, and Allison Weston, who was the captain of the U.S. Team in the 2000 Olympics. Metcalf played in all six matches in Athens, as Team USA reached the quarterfinals before losing to Brazil. Of Team USA's four losses, three came in five sets. They swept three-time gold medalist Cuba in the preliminary round.


Husker Red, White and Blue: Part 2
        Junior middle blocker Melisa Elmer spent part of the off-season training with the U.S. National Training Team, which was coached by NU Coach John Cook. The team won the USA Volleyball Adult Open Championships, going a perfect 4-0 and sweeping three of its four opponents en route to the title.

McCormick, Elmer Named 2004 Captains
        NU Coach John Cook announced Aug. 24 that Melissa Elmer and Amanda McCormick were named captains for the 2004 season. The preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, Elmer earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2003. She led the Big 12 with 1.59 blocks per game while ranking among the conference leaders with a .352 hitting percentage. The 6-foot-2 junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., was third in school history with 169 blocks, including a career-high 15 in a win at Kansas.

        McCormick served as the Huskers' libero in 2003, appearing in 22 matches. The sophomore from Muncie, Ind., set a school freshman record with 3.72 digs per game, including a career-high 31 against Missouri in 2003.

Husker Youth Movement: Year 2
        After a year where the Huskers played as many as five freshmen at the same time, Nebraska has seemingly gotten more youthful in 2004. Eight of the nine players who have started matches this year are underclassmen (two juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen), as senior Ally Rebholz made her first start of the year on Oct. 6. In fact, only four of the 13 players on the 2004 roster are upperclassmen.

Huskers in the NCAA Rankings
        One trio of Huskers are listed among this week's NCAA leaders released Wednesday. Melissa Elmer leads the nation in blocking with 1.91 blocks per game. Tracy Stalls is 10th nationally in blocking (1.69 b/gm), as the Huskers lead the nation in that category as a team. Dani Busboom is the other Husker in the national rankings, as she is 26th nationally in assists per game (13.09). She guides a Husker attack that is 14th in kills per game (17.00) and 13th in hitting percentage (.283).

Success in the Classroom
        Nebraska continued its successful legacy in the classroom in 2003, as Anna Schrad garnered second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Overall, NU has produced an NCAA-leading 17 academic All-Americans, who have earned a nation-best 26 academic All-America certificates. NU has had at least one CoSIDA Academic All-American in 17 of the last 20 seasons.

        In 2004, five players (Kelsey Fautsch,  Christina Houghtelling, Michelle Lynch, Dani Mancuso and Amanda McCormick) were on the CoSIDA Academic All-District ballot.

Pavan Joins Exclusive Husker List
        While Nebraska has traditionally excelled in recruiting the Midwest, outside hitter Sarah Pavan joins an exclusive club among Husker volleyball players. The Kitchener, Ontario, product is only the fourth player from outside the United States in the program's 30-year history, joining Greichaly Cepero (Dorado, Puerto Rico; 1999-2002), Maria Hedbeck (Sollentuna, Sweden; 1993-96) and Debbie Brand (Adelaide, Australia; 1989-92).

Kruse Has Jersey Retired
        One of the highlights of the Red/White Scrimmage was the retiring of Janet Kruse's jersey. She became the fifth Husker volleyball player to earn the program's highest honor, as her No. 17 jersey was retired on Aug. 28. The Fort Calhoun, Neb., native was the Huskers' first three-time All-American, earning first-team honors in 1989 and 1990 and second-team accolades in 1991. A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, Kruse was also an NCAA Top Eight Award winner and NCAA Woman of the Year Finalist.

HuskersNside to Carry Every Match in '04
Volleyball fans who don't have season tickets for the NU Coliseum can now watch every Husker match in 2004, as HuskersNside has announced plans to carry all 28 regular-season games live on the Internet. Husker fans with high-speed Internet access can watch every serve, block and spike all season. This marks the third season that Nebraska has carried volleyball matches live on HuskersNside, but the first time that Nebraska has video-streamed an entire regular-season schedule for any sport. For non-televised matches, fans will hear the radio feed with play-by-play announcer John Baylor.

To sign up for HuskerNside, go to Huskers.com and click on "subscribe" on the right-hand portion of the front page. The cost for the service is regularly $9.95 per month or $99.95 for a complete year.

Huskers Place Seven Members on Academic All-Big 12 Team
Seven University of Nebraska volleyball players were among the 52 student-athletes named to the 2004 volleyball academic All-Big 12 team released Tuesday by the conference office.

Nebraska placed a league-best six members on the first team, including two-time selections Michelle Lynch and Kelsey Fautsch. Other first-team recipients included sophomores Dani Busboom, Christina Houghtelling, Dani Mancuso and Amanda McCormick. All-American Melissa Elmer rounded out the seven honorees, as she was a second-team pick. Nebraska and Missouri each had seven recipients on the 2004 academic All-Big 12 squads.

Nominated by each institution's director of student-athlete support services and the media relations offices, the volleyball academic all-league squad consisted of 37 first team members combined with 15 on the second team. First-team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, while the second team are those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.

To qualify student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or in each of the two previous semesters while participating in 60 percent of her team's scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are eligible.

Huskers Sign Nationally Rated Prospects
Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook announced on Nov. 10 that the Husker volleyball program has received National Letters-of-Intent from two of the state's top high school seniors in Jordan Larson, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Hooper, Neb., and Amanda Gates, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker from Columbus, Neb. Both players will begin their collegiate careers for the Husker volleyball program in the fall of 2005. Both are rated among the top-50 players nationally by Prepvolleyball.com.

Cook said it is a testament to the quality of high school volleyball in the state that Nebraska's recruiting class can rank among the nation's best without having to leave the state, as the 2004 senior class is one of the deepest in recent memory.

"We always start our recruiting in Nebraska, and that makes it special that we didn't have to leave the state to get one of the top five recruiting classes in the country," Cook said. "This is the deepest and most talented group of high school seniors since I have been at Nebraska. It is a great reflection on the quality of the high school volleyball in the state and the great job the coaches are doing to produce so many college-level players."

While both Larson and Gates bring exceptional credentials into the Husker program, Cook said the one feature about both players that impressed him the most was the way they carried themselves both on an off the volleyball court.

"The thing we saw about both Amanda and Jordan is that they are both very humble and grounded," Cook said. "To see that two girls who are as talented and successful as they have been already understand about the importance of giving back to the community, that is what makes them so special and such a great fit in our program."

Up Next: Huskers Host No. 11 Texas
The Huskers return home for the final home match of the regular season next Wednesday, as Nebraska will host No. 11 Texas. Wednesday's match, which will be carried on NETV, is set for a 7 p.m. start, while senior Ally Rebholz will be honored following the match.



Big Red Report Top Stories