Huskers Ace Cards

Lincoln – All-American Sarah Pavan totaled a match-high 18 kills, including the 1,000th of her career, as top-ranked Nebraska rolled to a 30-13, 30-24, 30-13 victory over No. 20 Louisville at the Ameritas Players Challenge Friday evening.

Pavan, who now has 1,005 career kills, needed only 236 games to reach that plateau, just ahead of the previous mark of 238 set by U.S. Olympian Nancy Metcalf (Meendering). Pavan, who hit .452 on 31 swings, reached the milestone midway through game two, as her 13th kill of the match highlighted a decisive 4-0 run for Nebraska (5-0).

Head Coach John Cook said that Pavan reaching the 1,000 kill mark so quickly is very impressive.

"I think it's a great accomplishment for a couple of reasons," Cook said. "One, we ran a 6-2 offense last year, so you have to factor that in. Two, we were able to win a lot of matches the last two years, 3-0, so if you look at the total number of games we have played compared to some of the other Nebraska teams, it's probably pretty low."

Pavan's 18-kill performance was one of several highlights for the Big Red, as the Huskers hit .398 en route to upping their record to 5-0, including two wins over ranked teams. Jordan Larson turned in a strong effort, totaling 14 kills on .440 hitting and a career-high five aces. Tracy Stalls hit .636 with eight kills and a match-high four blocks, as the Huskers held Louisville to .044 hitting.

The Huskers, who held Louisville to its two lowest game totals in the rally-scoring era, totaled a season-high 10 aces, including five by Larson and three by Dani Busboom, who also chipped in a match-high 14 digs.

Cook said the defensive performance was the key against a Louisville club that reached regionals in each of the past two seasons.

"The key tonight was shutting down their left sides," Cook said. "We were able to hold two of the girls to negative hitting, and we held their right side player (Stephanie Marsh) to .048, so the key was that we shut down their outside hitters."

The Huskers used strong serving effort to take a 30-13 victory in the opener. The Huskers totaled five aces, including two by Larson and three by Busboom. Larson's serving triggered an 8-0 Husker run that turned an early two point deficit until a 9-3 Husker lead. Leading 10-6, Busboom stepped to the service line and ran off six straight points, including back-to-back aces that gave the Huskers a commanding 16-6 cushion they would enjoy the rest of the game. Pavan had six kills for Nebraska, which outhit the Cardinals .406- (-.120).

Game two was more of a struggle before the Huskers pull away late for a 30-24 victory. Pavan and Larson had seven kills apiece as NU took a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Neither team led by more than three points before Louisville recorded three straight blocks to forge a 16-14 advantage. The Huskers, who were only blocked one other time all night, clawed back and took the lead at 20-19 on a Cardinal hitting miscue. Louisville pulled to within 22-21, but kills by Stalls and Pavan and a service ace by Rachel Schwartz made it 25-21 and forced a Louisville timeout. NU eventually pushed the lead to 26-21 and led by least three points the rest of the game.

Nebraska took most of the suspense out of game three early, racing to a 6-0 lead and cruising to a 30-13 victory. Rachel Holloway opened the game with six straight points from the service line while the Huskers hit a blistering .667 in the finale. Pavan and Stalls combined for a perfect 8-for-8 effort on kills as the Huskers cruised to victory.

Marsh led Louisville (4-3) with seven kills as no other player totaled more than five kills.

The Huskers return to action Saturday afternoon, as they take on Cal Poly in the second day of the Ameritas Players Challenge, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Louisville and Minnesota will play the day's first match at 4:30 p.m.


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