Houghtelling Helps No 1 Huskers to Win at Oklahoma

Christina Houghtelling's had a career-high 20 kills, as No. 1 Nebraska survived Oklahoma's upset bid, winning 28-30, 30-25, 31-29, 30-20 Wednesday evening at the McCasland Fieldhouse.

Houghtelling's 20 kills topped her previous high of 17 on two other occasions, as the junior outside hitter from Cambridge hit .405 and recorded her second double-double of the season with 10 digs. Houghtelling was one of three Huskers to finish in double figure kills, as Nebraska improved to 12-0 overall and 4-0 in the league with its 27th straight Big 12 win. Jordan Larson added 13 kills and nine digs, while Sarah Pavan chipped in 11 kills, as the Huskers hit .343 as a team, but allowed Oklahoma to hit an opponent season-high .229 in defeat.

The Huskers balance was needed, as Oklahoma's Elaine Santos nearly single-handedly carried the Sooners. She had a match-high 21 kills on .457 hitting while adding three aces and three blocks, as the Sooners dipped to 5-8 overall and 0-5 in the league.

Nebraska, which was out-blocked through the first three games, finally showed its blocking prowess in game four with seven blocks, including four of Elmer's five stuffs. Tracy Stalls led NU with a season-high eight blocks in the win, as she also had a season-best eight kills on .463 hiiting.

Game one featured offensive firepower on both ends, as Oklahoma pulled out a 30-28 victory. The Huskers hit .414 as a team, but the Sooners hit .394 and had five service aces in game one alone. The Huskers were also done in with four of their own serving errors, many of them coming early, as Oklahoma never trailed by more than a point. Santos did most of the damage for OU, recording six kills on nine swings, three aces and a pair of blocks in the opening game. The Huskers fell behind 20-17, but roared back to score four straight points and take a 21-20 lead on a Pavan kill and force a Sooner timeout. It would be the Huskers' only lead of game one, as Santos tied the match with a kill before consecutive aces gave the hosts a 23-21 advantage. The Huskers tied the score for the 11th time at 28-all on an Elmer kill, but a Husker hitting error and a kill by Sarah Weiland gave Oklahoma a hard-fought win.

The Huskers did a much better job in slowing down the Sooner attack in a 30-25 victory in game two. Nebraska out-hit the Sooners, .303-.150, and recorded five blocks. The Huskers, who had just one block in game one, used its blocking to forge an early 8-4 advantage, as Pavan had three stuffs in the surge. The Huskers eventually pushed the lead to 15-10, but Oklahoma would go away quietly, scoring four straight points to pull within 15-14 and tied the score at 17-all on a Hannah Sharp service ace. Oklahoma took a 25-24 lead on a Husker serving error, but Jennifer Saleamua rallied the Huskers to victory. The All-American tied the score at 25 with a kill before serving the final five points, including an ace that put NU up 27-25 and forced an OU timeout.

In game three, the Huskers relied on Houghtelling, who came up big with nine kills on .643 hitting, as the Nebraska pulled out a 31-29 victory. Oklahoma out-hit NU, .310.-265, but Houghtelling willied the Huskers to victory. With the score tied at six, she had two consecutive kills that sparked the Huskers' 7-3 run as the Huskers took a 13-8 lead and forced a Sooner timeout. The Huskers led 16-10, but OU would fight back, scoring four straight points, including two straight blocks by Laura Tomes and Anna Stadel to pull within 16-14 and force a Husker timeout. Oklahoma continued the run of six unanswered points, tying the game at 16 on its third block of the run. The teams would trade points throughout the rest of the game, as neither team led by more than two points. With the score tied at 29 after Santos' 16th kill of the match, Elmer's gave Nebraska the lead for good before Larson's 10th kill of the night iced the game three win.

Nebraska finally got rolling in game four, hitting .438 and holding OU to .079 hitting in a 30-15 win. NU jumped to an early 5-1 lead and built a 10-5 after Melissa Elmer's fourth block of the game, but could not control the game, as the Sooners responded with a 5-1 run of their own to close to within 11-10 on Gabriela Tonan's kill. The Huskers led 16-14 before the serving of Rachel Schwartz and the Husker block took over. Schwartz ran off six straight points, while NU had three blocks in the run in taking a 24-15 lead, a spurt that decided the match

The Huskers return to action this Saturday, as the Huskers host Baylor. First serve between the Huskers and Bears is set for 7:30 p.m., and the match will be carried live on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Omaha. In addition, Saturday's match will be shown live on Nebraska Educational Television (Ch. 12) and on NET-HD (Ch. 112), and will be shown on a tape-delayed basis on College Sports Television Sunday at 3 p.m.

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