One to go for Huskers!

It might be considered the inevitable match up between Nebraska and Washington for the national title. Ranked one and two for most of the season, the Huskers and Huskies seemed destined to meet in the final game for all of the marbles. They had to get by their semifinalist opponents first, however. Washington did that, sweeping Tennessee earlier in the day and Nebraska followed suit, sweeping Santa Clara, sealing their road to the final, where they will meet up finally with Washington.

San Antonio – Senior All-American Melissa Elmer led three players in double-figure kills by pounding a match-high 13 kills on .647 hitting – tying for the fourth-best postseason mark in NU history – as the No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team advanced to the fifth championship match in program history with a 3-0 sweep of Santa Clara (30-24, 30-19, 30-21) in front of 7,931 fans at the Alamodome Thursday evening.

The Huskers will look for their third national title and first since 2000 on Saturday at 5 p.m. in a match televised live on ESPN2. The Huskers – backed by over 4,000 fans who made the trip and another 2,500 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, will look to become only the third team in NCAA history to be ranked No. 1 from wire to wire.


Christina Houghtelling goes up for the block in the first
set against Santa Clara in the Final Four of the NCAA
Volleyball Championships.
AP/Eric Gray
Standing between Nebraska and the national championship is No. 3 seed Washington. While the Huskers (33-1) have lost only one match in 2005, the Huskies have also tasted defeat just once in compiling a 31-1 record. Both NU and UW have also swept all five of their NCAA Tournament opponents.

NU hit a blistering .449 on the evening Santa Clara (27-5) and dominated the net, winning the blocking battle 12.5 to 2. The .449 attacking percentage was Nebraska's best in a postseason match since 1998 and just off the school postseason mark of .486 against Morgan State that season. The Huskers also out-dug the Broncos, 36-34, and held Santa Clara to .145 hitting.

Elmer's 13 kills marked the first time that the first-team All-American had led the Huskers in kills, while Sarah Pavan and Christina Houghtelling had 11 and 10 kills, respectively, as both hit over .400 in the sweep, NU's 26th sweep of the year.


The Huskers came out firing in game one, hitting .387 in the opener in posting a 30-24 victory. Houghtelling led the balanced attack with four kills, as five players recorded multiple kills in the opener, but Nebraska did most of its damage at the net. NU outblocked Santa Clara, 6-0, as Tracy Stalls and Melissa Elmer had three blocks apiece.  The Huskers built a 9-4 lead after a Sarah Pavan kill, but Santa Clara came back with four straight to get within 9-8.  Nebraska answered that run with four straight points, building a five-point lead. Trailing 19-14, Santa Clara used a 6-2 run to pull within 21-20, but would get no closer, as the Huskers ran off five straight points and took a 26-20 lead after a Saleaumua ace.

Just as they did in game one, the Huskers never trailed in the second game, hitting .484 in rolling to a 30-19 victory. Elmer shined offensively, drilling six kills and hitting .857, while Pavan had four kills in five swings. Leading 8-7, back-to-back kills by Tracy Stalls triggered an 8-2 run for Nebraska, giving the Huskers a seven-point cushion. Santa Clara whittled the lead to 16-11, but two kills by Elmer and a pair of hitting errors highlighted a 5-0 spurt that made it 21-11, as NU took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

In the finale, the Huskers closed the match with a flourish, hitting .472 while holding the Broncos to just .146 hitting in a 30-21 win. Saleaumua had five of her seven kills in game three, while Elmer and Pavan had four kills apiece. Leading 12-10, the Huskers put the match away with an 8-1 run, taking a 20-11 lead on a Saleaumua kill. The Huskers led by as many as 11 points, the last at 27-16, and cruised to the nine-point win.

Anna Cmaylo led Santa Clara with 10 kills, while three other players had nine kills apiece.
 
With the win against Santa Clara, Nebraska tied Florida and Ohio for the Division I lead in wins with 33. Of NU's 33 wins, 12 have been against ranked teams. The Huskers would lead the nation in victories and capture their third national championship with a victory over Washington on Saturday

2005 NCAA Division I  Women's Volleyball Championship
Alamodome • San Antonio, Texas
Semifinal Post-Match Quotes - Nebraska

Head coach John Cook
Opening Summary
"We started out a little shaky, but we did really well. We made a lot of adjustments as the match went on and took Santa Clara out of the match. Our attack was very good tonight. I think we only had seven attack errors. I am very pleased. Santa Clara has been a Cinderella team that mentally was going for broke, and I thought our team did a really good job of handling it and executing and taking care of business."

Talk about the three First Team All-Americans and them playing up to the billing
"That's why they're all-americans. When it is showtime, the great players step up and that's what this tournament down here is all about is the great player's stepping up, and I think Saturday night, you are going to see a lot of great players step on both sides. It will be exciting to watch."

During the second game, the team looked different. Was that something that was planned or adjustment
Head coach John Cook
"It was just certain match-ups we wanted and that we liked, we had it in the first game and wanted to keep in the second."

Christina Houghtelling goes for the kill against
Santa Clara in the Final Four of the women's
NCAA Volleyball championships
AP/Eric Gray

Any other way of this thing playing out going up against Washington for the championship
Head coach John Cook
"It is great to see two of the top teams play in the finals. I think that is going to be a great story for all of you. I think we have played about every top ten team except Washington, so this will be a great challenge for us, and if we get it done Saturday night we'll prove we've beaten everybody in the top ten. Washington is a great team and I think it is going to be a great finish to the college volleyball season to see Nebraska and Washington play."

Talk about the match you had tonight and the excitement level
Sarah Pavan, RS, So.
"Watching video, they're a really stacked team, and we knew what we had to do tonight."

Do you look at Washington any differently? You two have been at the top all year, have they kind of stood out in your mind at all?

Christina Houghtelling, OH, Jr.
"Washington has a lot of great players, they're balanced, it is just another game. One game left, and nothing left to lose."

With the big hitters getting a lot of attention with the offense you run, talk about the setters and how Maggie (Griffin) fits into the system

Head coach John Cook
"Well Maggie has allowed us to run the two setter system, so we have to have two really good setters to be able to do that. You can imagine setting a dinner table with Dani (Mancuso), and has done a really great job. If you saw her in the first match of the year til tonight, her improvement has been tremendous. Maggie is a winner. She has won championships at every level. She is a competitor and she brings that dimension to our team on the court as well."

Talk about your offensive performance tonight
Melissa Elmer
"We liked the match up in the middle with one of our sets and we knew it was going to be successful if we execute it well, especially in transition. Me and Maggie has been connecting great on that set so it really worked for us tonight."

.



                              Volleyball Box Score
           Santa Clara vs Nebraska (Dec 15, 2005 at San Antonio, TX)


   Santa Clara            |     ATTACK      |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF|  BLOCK |GEN
## Name                 GP|  K   E  TA   PCT|  A| SA  SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1  LOWE, Brittany......  3|  9   5  18  .222|  2|  0   0|  1|  6| 0  0  0|  0|   9.0
3  McGIVEN, Kim........  3|  9  10  31 -.032|  1|  0   0|  0|  7| 1  0  0|  0|  10.0
4  PERRET, Cassie......  3|  9   2  22  .318|  2|  1   0|  3|  3| 0  0  0|  0|  10.0
14 MURATORE, Annalisa..  3|  6   3  16  .188|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 0  1  0|  0|   6.5
15 CMAYLO, Anna........  3| 10   5  22  .227|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 0  0  0|  0|  10.0
24 MATICH, Crystal.....  3|  1   2   8 -.125| 35|  1   3|  0|  4| 0  1  0|  1|   2.5
5  WALTERS, Caroline...  3|  0   0   0  .000|  2|  1   0|  1| 12| 0  0  0|  0|   1.0
6  LUXTON, Kristen.....  3|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  1   3|  0|  2| 0  0  0|  0|   1.0
7  CLARK, Nichole......  2|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 0  0  0|  0|   0.0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Totals..............  3| 44  27 117  .145| 42|  4   6|  5| 34| 1  2  0|  1|  50.0

 TEAM ATTACK PER GAME                               TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 2.0
 Game  K  E  TA   Pct
   1  16 10  37  .162   GAME SCORES               1  2  3  TEAM RECORDS
   2  15 10  39  .128   Santa Clara......... (0) 24 19 21  27-5
   3  13  7  41  .146   Nebraska............ (3) 30 30 30  33-1

   Nebraska               |     ATTACK      |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF|  BLOCK |GEN
## Name                 GP|  K   E  TA   PCT|  A| SA  SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1  Griffin, Maggie.....  3|  1   0   1 1.000| 21|  0   0|  0|  3| 0  0  0|  2|   1.0
3  Houghtelling, Chris.  3| 10   1  21  .429|  0|  0   1|  0|  9| 0  3  0|  0|  11.5
8  Elmer, Melissa......  3| 13   2  17  .647|  2|  0   0|  0|  1| 1  6  0|  0|  17.0
9  Pavan, Sarah........  3| 11   0  22  .500|  1|  0   1|  3|  5| 0  2  1|  0|  12.0
10 Larson, Jordan......  3|  6   1  13  .385|  1|  1   1|  0|  6| 0  2  2|  1|   8.0
26 Saleaumua, Jennifer.  3|  7   2  13  .385|  6|  3   0|  1|  7| 0  3  0|  0|  11.5
5  Schwartz, Rachel....  2|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  0   1|  0|  0| 0  0  0|  0|   0.0
7  Mancuso, Dani.......  1|  0   1   2 -.500|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 0  1  0|  0|   0.5
11 Stalls, Tracy.......  3|  3   0   9  .333|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 1  4  1|  0|   6.0
18 Busboom, Dani.......  3|  0   0   0  .000| 16|  1   0|  0|  5| 0  0  0|  1|   1.0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Totals..............  3| 51   7  98  .449| 47|  5   4|  4| 36| 2 21  4|  4|  68.5

 TEAM ATTACK PER GAME                               TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 12.5
 Game  K  E  TA   Pct
   1  14  2  31  .387   Site: San Antonio, TX (Alamodome)
   2  18  3  31  .484   Date: Dec 15, 2005   Attend: 7931   Time: 1:32
   3  19  2  36  .472   Referees: Joan Powell, Patsy Malta

                                         1   2   3 Total
                        Tie scores       0   0   3     3
                        Lead changes     0   0   1     1


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