No. 1 Huskers Improve to 20-0

All-American Sarah Pavan had 12 kills, while Nebraska overcame a sluggish start to sweep Kansas, 30-23, 30-20, 30-19 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,133 Wednesday.

Sarah Pavan's 12 kills were a match high, as the sophomore hit .458 and added eight digs, three blocks and a pair of service aces in leading the Huskers (20-0, 11-0 Big 12) to their 34th straight Big 12 win dating back to the 2003 season. It marked the seventh time this season that Pavan, who leads all Big 12 outside hitters with .355 hitting, has hit above .450 in a match this season.

Junior Christina Houghtelling also reached double figures for Nebraska with 11 kills and four blocks, while All-Americans Melissa Elmer and Jennifer Saleaumua chipped in eight and seven blocks respectively. NU, which was held to .159 hitting in the opener, hit .282 in the match, but held Kansas (12-9, 4-8 Big 12) to just .057 hitting, including .000 over the final two games. Sophomore Tracy Stalls led the Husker blocking effort with seven stuffs, while Elmer added six more in helping NU to a 15-3 advantage in that category. In all, NU has held its last six opponents under .150 hitting.

Nebraska Head Coach John Cook credited Kansas' performance and a week layoff since NU's last match as the reason for NU's uncharacteristic slow start.

"First of all Kansas came out and played solid in the first game and we looked like we hadn't played volleyball in a week," Cook said. "But by the end of the second game we really cranked it up and played well."

The Huskers were out-hit by the plucky Jayhawks in the opener, .163-.159 and had only two blocks, but enjoyed a strong effort from the service line to post a 30-23 victory. NU totaled four aces, including two each from Pavan and freshman Jordan Larson, and committed only one service error while KU had three service miscues. Pavan had consecutive aces as part of a 4-0 run to give NU an early four-point lead. The Jayhawks pulled to within 13-10 on an Emily Brown kill, but the hosts ran off four straight points, taking a 17-10 lead after two straight aces from Larson that forced a KU timeout. KU eventually whittled the lead to 25-22, but NU ran off four straight points, capped by a Jennifer Saleaumua kill that made it 29-22 and closed out the seven-point win.

Nebraska's offense got untracked in game two, as the Huskers pulled away for a 30-20 victory. Saleaumua and Elmer had five kills apiece, as NU hit .419 on 31 swings. Elmer, who was held without a block in game one, totaled five in game two alone, as NU held Kansas to -.023 hitting. Leading 16-15, Nebraska scored four of the next five points, taking a 20-16 lead, as Larson and Stalls combined on a block of Emily Brown. KU closed to within 20-17, but could get no closer, as Nebraska run off six straight points, capped by a stuff by Elmer and Houghtelling, to take a commanding 26-17 lead, sending the hosts to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.

The Huskers blitzed Kansas in the finale, jumping to a 10-1 lead and cruising to an 11-point win. The Huskers were successful on their first eight attempts, while Pavan led the barrage with six kills in seven swings. In all, the Huskers hit .314, as the hosts held a double-digit lead for most of the game. KU eventually pulled to within 27-19, but Stalls and Saleaumua closed the match with consecutive blocks in extending NU's home winning streak to 25 matches.

Emily Brown led Kansas with 11 kills, as no other Jayhawk finished in double figures.

The Huskers return to action on Saturday evening, as they travel to Texas Tech. First serve is at 7 p.m., and the match will be carried on B107.3 FM in Lincoln.

Big Red Report Top Stories