The Huskers, who were the last undefeated team in Division I, fell to 28-1 overall and 19-1 Big 12, while Texas improved to 23-4 overall and 17-3 in the Big 12. The Longhorn win, not only snapped a 12-match losing streak to Nebraska, but was the Huskers' first loss to a Big 12 team in 44 matches.
Brandy MaGee's 22 kills on .378 hitting led the Longhorn attack which features four players in double figures, while Sarah Pavan's 15 kills led five Huskers with at least 10 kills. NU out-hit the Longhorns, .211-.203, but was out-block and out-dug, as the Longhorns snapped an 11-match losing streak to NU.
In addition to Pavan, who Christina Houghtelling totaled 14 kills and 13 digs, while Melissa Elmer and Tracy Stalls had 11 kills apiece. Elmer had a team-best six blocks, tying Amber Holmquist's school record with 728 blocks.
The Huskers used a strong defensive effort in the opener, holding the Longhorns to .041 hitting in a 30-22 victory. The duo of Pavan and Houghtelling did most of the damage, combining for nine kills, while Pavan also had three blocks. The Huskers used an early 5-0 run to take a 7-2 lead after a Saleaumua kill, forcing a Longhorn timeout. Texas pulled to within 9-5, but Nebraska responded with a 5-1 run, pushing the lead to 15-6 after a pair of UT hitting errors. The Huskers eventually pushed the lead to 17-7, but the Longhorns responded with four straight points, pulling to within 17-11 after a Jen Christian kill that forced a Husker timeout. Pavan then came out swinging, putting down two quick kills to ignite a 6-2 run that made it 23-13 following a Stalls and Saleaumua block. Texas closed to within 28-21 after a 4-1 run, but Houghtelling put NU at game point before a Longhorn hitting error gave the Huskers game one.
While game one was a defensive clinic, the second one showcased the offensive firepower of both teams, as Nebraska used a 7-0 dramatic rally to pull out a 30-28 victory. Texas out-hit the Huskers, .395-.381, as Magee, who had seven kills in the opener, added six more in game two while Jen Christian added five more. Pavan totaled five kills, while Houghtelling added four to help the Husker cause. The Longhorns used a pair of questionable calls during a 4-0 run to take a 21-17 lead and continued to increase the margin. Texas led 27-22 after a Husker timeout, but a Larson kill and a Longhorn error pulled Nebraska within 27-24 and forced a Texas timeout. The run continued after the break as a Houghtelling ace and kills by Larson and Pavan pulled the Huskers even at 27 and forced UT's second timeout. Larson's solo block on Magee gave NU its first lead since 9-8 and a Longhorn error put NU within game point. Dariam Acevedo's kill made it 29-29, but Elmer closed out game two with a kill into the corner, sending NU up 2-0.
Texas climbed back into the contest in game three, weathering a tremendous Husker rally to take a 30-28 victory. The game could not have started off worse for the Huskers, as Texas had four early aces and jumped to 14-2 lead after a 12-0 Longhorn run. Texas eventually pushed the lead to 17-3 and had the Huskers on the ropes, but Nebraska fought back, using a 20-8 run to pull with 25-23. NU, which hit .071 in game three, continued to fight and was within 29-27 before Magee blocked Pavan on game point.
In game four, Texas used a 4-0 run to take a 9-5 lead after an Alyson Jennings ace. The Huskers stayed within striking distance, pulling to within 15-14 on a Longhorn service error, but UT scored four of the next five points to forge a 19-15 lead and force a Husker timeout. Houghtelling then led the Husker charge, recording a kill and a block to pull NU within 19-17. After a Texas kill, Larson and Elmer combined on a block before another Longhorn hitting error tied the game at 21-all. A service error and two attack errors pushed the UT lead to 24-21, but NU would come back, pulling to within 27-26 on a Houghtelling kill, but Christian had consecutive kills to put UT within a point of evening the match. Stalls made it 29-27 with a kill, but Leticia Armstrong's kill sent the match to a decisive game five.
In game five, the Huskers scored the first three points, as Houghtelling's third ace of the night gave NU a 3-0 lead and forced a Longhorn timeout. A block byNo Elmer and Pavan made it 4-0, NU's largest lead since game one, but UT came back, scoring five of the next six points to pull within 5-all after an Armstrong kill. The teams traded points before a block by Armstrong and Acevedo gave the hosts an 8-7 lead at the changeover. A Houghtelling kill and a Saleaumua ace gave the Huskers a 9-8 lead, but kills by Armstrong and Magee made it 10-9 and forced a Husker timeout. UT eventually made it 12-10 before a hitting error cut the deficit to 12-11. Acevedo then came back with a kill to make it 13-11 and force NU to use its second timeout. Elmer made it 13-12 with a kill before Pavan went wide to put UT within one point of the match.
Nebraska has already earned the Big 12's automatic berth for the NCAA Tournament and will learn where it will be for the first two rounds Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The selection show will be aired on ESPNews.