No. 1 Huskers Hold off No. 12 Tigers, 3-2

Sarah Pavan's 22 kills led three Huskers in double figures, as No. 1 Nebraska rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat No. 12 Missouri, 28-30, 27-30, 30-21, 30-24, 15-3, in front of a sold out NU Coliseum and national television audience Sunday evening.

Sunday's comeback marked just the second time in school history that NU (25-0, 16-0 Big 12) rallied from an 0-2 deficit at home and the first since a five-game win over Texas on Nov. 5, 1998. It was just the ninth time ever that NU had dug itself a 0-2 hole and came back to win.

 "I think that's why this was such an impressive win, because we found a way to do it even being down," Nebraska Head Coach John Cook said after the Huskers' 10th win against a ranked opponent this season.

Pavan's 22 kills, six blocks and six digs led the Huskers, as the sophomore recorded her eighth 20-kill effort of her career and first of the season. Christina Houghtelling had 19 kills, one off her career high, on .405 hitting and nine digs, while All-American Melissa Elmer had 12 kills and 11 blocks for her third double-double of the year. It also marked the seventh time this year that Elmer has had at least 10 blocks in a match.

Elmer was one of three Huskers to record double-doubles in the victory, as setters Maggie Griffin (33 assists, 11 digs) and Dani Busboom (30 assists, 13 digs) helped Nebraska to its 39th straight conference win.

Cook credited the sellout crowd of 4,158 for helping will the Huskers back into the match.

 "It was as loud as I've ever heard it out there," Cook said. "The crowd was awesome tonight.  I knew the longer the match went the better it would be for us…I could see us getting stronger as the match went on. When you walk out on the Coliseum floor tonight – it was intense. We hadn't been in a tough match like that for a long time. It's great to have a match like this now."

The Huskers, who had swept their previous nine opponents coming into Sunday, never got untracked offensively in dropping the first two games, 30-28, 30-27, as the Huskers hit just .181 before the break. In game one, Jessica Vander Kooi had eight of her match-high 23 kills, as the Tigers hit a blistering .333. In game two, the visitors used a 7-2 midway through game two to pull ahead 14-10 and another 5-1 run after NU pulled within 18-16 and held on for a three-point win.

 "I still felt like we were in it," Cook said about being down 0-2 "I just felt like at some point we would settle down and get back in it."

In game three, Elmer led the Husker comeback, recording four kills and three blocks as Nebraska took a 30-21 victory. Leading 11-10, Nebraska seized the momentum with an 8-3 spurt, taking a 19-13 lead after Tracy Stalls and Jennifer Saleaumua blocked Vander Kooi. The Tigers got to 21-18, but Houghtelling two kills and combined with Elmer on a block to quickly push the lead to six points, ending MU's hopes of becoming the first conference team to ever sweep the Huskers at home.

The Huskers got off to a shaky start in game four as the Tigers jumped to a quick 6-1 lead. Behind Pavan, who had seven kills and three blocks in game four, Nebraska forged back, using a 8-2 run of its own to take a 9-8 advantage after two straight kills by Tracy Stalls. Missouri eventually pulled back into a 16-all tie, but Pavan took over, giving NU the lead for good with a kill before serving four straight points, capped by an ace, that gave NU a 21-16 lead and forced a Tiger timeout. Missouri got to within 23-20, but an Elmer kill and block by Elmer and Pavan quickly gave NU breathing room. MU made one last run, closing to within 27-24, but could not get closer, as the Huskers tied the match with three straight kills to send it to game five.

Backed by a frenzied Coliseum crowd, the Huskers blitzed the Tigers, 15-3, in the finale, as NU had four blocks and held the Tigers to -.286 hitting. MU led 1-0, but Nebraska ran off four straight points to force a Tiger timeout and used a 9-1 spurt to take a seven-point lead after a Saleaumua kill. Vander Kooi's 23rd kill of the match made it 9-3, but Nebraska took over from there, scoring the last six points to close out the comeback on Pavan's 22nd kill of the night.

Nebraska returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 16, as it travels to Baylor. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and on Huskers.com.                             


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