Huskers Show Balance in Sweep of Shockers

Sarah Pavan had a match-high 16 kills to lead three Huskers with double-figure kills, as top-ranked Nebraska advanced to the NCAA round of 16 with a 30-22, 30-20, 30-21 victory over Wichita State Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,219 at the Nebraska Coliseum.

The 56th consecutive sellout crowd at the Coliseum witnessed a balanced Husker attack, as Nebraska hit .336 in winning its 26th straight match. In addition to Pavan who hit .483 with four blocks, Christina Houghtelling added a double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs, while Jennifer Saleaumua also chipped in a double-double with 12 kills on .333 hitting and a match-high 15 digs.

The Huskers (29-1) will now meet Louisville next Friday, Dec. 10, in Louisville in the NCAA Regionals, while Wichita State, which was making its first NCAA appearance, closes its season with a 25-5 record.

The Huskers took command early in game one, jumping out to an 8-3 lead and never looking back in a 30-22 win. After spotting the Huskers the early lead, Wichita State came back, closing to within 9-7 after a pair of Husker hitting errors. Saleaumua then quickly extended the lead to 11-7 with a kill and a service ace, as Nebraska led by at least three points the rest of the way. WSU got to within 22-18 on a kill by Darci Vohs before a kill by Pavan, who had six kills in the opener, and a combined block by Pavan and Melissa Elmer on Lara Geer gave NU a six-point lead and ended the visitors best opportunity to take game one.

In game two, Houghtelling keyed a decisive spurt, as the Huskers hit .487 in a 30-20 win. With the match tied at 13, Houghtelling, who had six of her 15 kills in game two, single-handedly accounted for five kills in a 6-2 Husker run, giving Nebraska a 19-15 cushion. The Shockers continued to whittle away at the NU advantage, closing to within 24-19 after a Husker error, but kills by Tracy Stalls and Dani Busboom began a 6-1 run to close out game two.

In the finale, Nebraska needed to overcome a six-point deficit before pulling away with a 30-21 win. The Shockers used runs of 4-0 and 3-0 to take a 15-9 lead after a Husker hitting error. NU made quick work of the deficit by scoring five unanswered points to get within 15-14 after a Houghtelling kill. The Huskers eventually took the lead for good at 19-18 on a Saleaumua kill and led 23-21 before closing the match with seven straight points. Dani Busboom, who had 45 assists and nine digs, served the final six points, while Houghtelling accounted for solo blocks on two of the final three points, including match point, to send Nebraska to the NCAA Regionals for the 11th straight year.

Sara Lungren led Wichita State with 10 kills, as the Shockers were held to .111 hitting and were out-blocked 13-5. Sarah Younes, the MVC Player of the Year who had six aces in the opening round against Nevada, was held to three kills and no aces while hitting -.125.

Notes:  Nebraska sophomore libero Amanda McCormick also reached double figures in digs with 441, tying Jennifer Saleaumua's single-season school record set last season. With 1,105 digs in her career, Saleaumua moved within five digs of the NU career mark of 1,111 held by Lindsay Wischmeier (1999-2002). With five blocks, Melissa Elmer, who also had nine kills, became the 10th Husker to reach 500 career blocks in school history....Pavan is hitting .445 with 4.85 kills per game over the last four matches.

Nebraska Head Coach John Cook
On the match
It was a great match. Wichita State presented our team a great challenge tonight. We had only a little time to prepare for Wichita State, so it took our team a little time to adjust.  Tactically, they're as tough of a team as we have played this year, and they made a couple of big runs. Our crowd was into it, and it felt like a big NCAA match.

On Nebraska coming back from a 15-9 deficit in game three to win the match
All year, our team has never panicked. We were able to make a run with blocking defense. Also, we continue to serve well. Our team didn't panic, and even when Wichita State got on a run, we got through it and won.

On the balance of Nebraska's attack
We tried to be balanced all year. We made a specific gameplan to attack Wichita State. Dani Busboom did a great job of running our gameplan. We knew that, if we executed our gameplan, that they couldn't stop us. They were switching their blockers on us, putting their big blocker on Sarah Pavan. But Dani would just give it to the other hitters, and Christina Houghtelling and Jen Saleaumua would beat the smaller blockers.

Sarah Pavan
On sustaining through the test presented by Wichita State
We know that the teams only get tougher. It was a good test to see if we can keep our composure. It will in the later matches, because something like this match could happen again. We know that we have the ability to turn around games.

On the performance of NU's Dani Busboom
They had some small hitters, and Dani set to hit against them. They switched their small hitters to the left, but Dani picked up on that. She played really well.

On celebrating this weekend
We can't think about this weekend too much. We'll celebrate it tonight and tomorrow, and get back to practice Monday. We have to look ahead.

Amanda McCormick       
On sustaining through the test presented by Wichita State
I thought we showed a lot of teamwork and trust. We know that we can pull out the match. We have great team chemistry and want to win for each other.

On the current state of the Huskers
I think everything is meshing together at just the right time. Our passing is consistent, Dani is setting great, we're serving well and our blocking is great. It's good to know that all that fine tuning has paid off. Wichita State had their runs and there's always room for improvement, but we're doing a great job of making that we're coming together.

On the team's excitement to play in Louisville
We're still excited. We're anxious to get to Louisville. We're so anxious, we want to play each match in a row. We'll be up for Louisville.

Christina Houghtelling
On what was proved by Nebraska's comeback in the third game from a 15-9 deficit
It's nice to know that we can put pressure on teams when we're behind. We can't expect perfection all the time. Tonight showed that our team can fight through.

On the performance of NU's Dani Busboom
Dani executed our gameplan well tonight. Her attacking at the net helped us tonight. She was really aggressive. It was great, and that something we need to do every game.

Wichita State Coach Chris Lamb
Opening Statement
This is something I thought about a long time ago, that every season ends with a loss. It's tough this ends in a tournament, but it was to a darn good team. 

This team took larger steps than Wichita State has ever taken. We started rated No. 1 in the conference and came a long way.

On the caliber of Nebraska
It is kind of an irony. We have been able to out-man a lot of teams on our schedule.  Nebraska takes the game to a whole new level. It's kind of a hopeless feeling when we start a rally and then they get scramble rallies going and chase everything down.

On Wichita State's possible break down at 15-9 in the third game
No, it wasn't at that point. We had some bad passing before in the game. But, we knew Nebraska could come back.

On the atmosphere
I am going to say it is the best. Hawaii may double the crowd size, but here everyone is on top of you. The fans have a great knowledge of the game. It's like the fans and players go out and practice together.

On pressuring Nebraska
I hope they felt pressured. I hope John Cook thinks we gave them a push.

On Sarah Pavan
I have coached (former Stanford All-American) Kerri Walsh in club, and I coached in the Pac-10. But how do you simulate it, stand on a ladder and hit balls at my players? That young lady has one heck of a career ahead of her. She's very special and I hope I was a little piece of it.

On how far Wichita State has come
That is a question I love to answer. Five years ago our RPI was 279, now we're above 30. I tell the girls in the locker room, its one thing to win a national championship. But I want to know a team that has came farther than the Shockers, and I want to schedule them and beat them.

Andee Hartig
On playing Nebraska
You could tell they have been here before. They have very big and powerful girls.

On the atmosphere
It's awesome here. We have been to Hawaii, but here everybody's on top of you. I wouldn't say it's a hostile environment because the people here want to see good volleyball. It's fun to play here.

On playing their best
That is something about this team, that we had so many different combinations and I never thought we actually clicked.

Sara Younes
On playing Nebraska
They were definitely a bigger team than we have ever played before. They were all over six feet, probably over 6-2.

On the atmosphere
It is awesome. The team and the fans are so energetic and all on the same page. They want to see good volleyball.

Sara Lungren
On the NCAA Tournament
We won our first match, which is awesome. Next year, our goal is to win two matches.  Now we expect to win.

On the size and power of Nebraska
They were something we haven't faced all season. They are a really good blocking team and very big, which will probably make us better.

On playing without being nervous
We came and played hard. We had fun and battled.

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