Busboom Leads Huskers to Win over Cal Poly

On a night where Nebraska needed a lift, Dani Busboom turned in a career night and a play for the ages, leading the Huskers' 30-23, 30-23, 30-22 victory over No. 25 Cal Poly Saturday evening.

Busboom matched her career high with 20 digs, while adding the signature play of the match, diving along the sideline and hitting the ball over the net while falling down to keep a rally alive. The play was finished off moments later on a Jordan Larson kill off an overpass, but Busboom's efforts turned the tide in a match after the Huskers struggled early against a tough Mustang squad.

"That's the type of player I want to be, making plays that other liberos can't," Busboom said. "That's what I want to go for everything, because you never know when there is going to be a chance to get (the ball) up."

Nebraska Head Coach John Cook said the Busboom's performance helped NU survive a rocky offensive night, while improving to 6-0 on the season.

"She touches a lot of balls, but I think she also brings a mentality to our side of the court," Cook said. "Defense in volleyball is like defense in any sport, it's a lot about mentality. She brings that mentality to the court for our team."

The Huskers out-dug Cal Poly, 59-45 while holding the Mustangs to .160 hitting en route to its second win over a ranked opponent this weekend. Cal Poly, which upset eighth-ranked Texas last weekend, dipped to 5-3 with its third straight loss.

The Huskers relied on their outside hitters on Saturday, as Sarah Pavan, Larson and Dani Mancuso combined for 43 kills, seven blocks and five service aces. Pavan led all players with 18 kills on .351 hitting while adding five blocks and a season-high seven digs.  Larson posted her third double-double of the year with 16 kills and 13 digs, while Mancuso had nine kills in helping the Huskers improve to 6-0 on the season.

In the opener, the Huskers dug themselves an early deficit, only to regroup and pull out a 30-23 victory. Nebraska was down 12-6 before starting to regroup behind Pavan, who totaled nine kills and three blocks in the opener. The Husker scored four of the next five points to pull within 13-10 on a Pavan kill. Trailing 18-16, Busboom's save and subsequent kill by Larson rally triggered the Husker run. The play started a 4-0 NU spurt which gave the Huskers their first lead of the match. The Mustangs to within 20-19, but could get no closer, as Larson had a kill and a solo block on successive plays before Pavan slammed home a cross court kill to make it a four-point cushion.

Game two followed a similar pattern where the Huskers fell behind and were forced to rally before taking another 30-23 victory. The Huskers hit just .151 and were out-blocked 5.5-2, but stayed alive with excellent floor defense, totaling 28 digs, including 11 by Busboom and eight by Larson, who also totaled six kills. NU, which extended its home winning streak to 40 matches, was down 17-12 after Cal Poly's 5-1 run, capped by three straight blocks. Pavan's kill ignited the comeback before the All-American served three straight points to pull NU with a point. NU regained the lead at 21-20 moments later, as Pavan and Amanda Gates combined to stuff Alicia Waller. Cal Poly trailed 22-21 before the Huskers ran off five straight points as Gates' kill that made it 27-21. The Mustangs got to within 27-24, but kills by Mancuso, Larson and a block by Pavan and Stalls sent NU to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.

The Huskers finally got their offense untracked in the finale, hitting .425 en route to a 30-22 victory. Larson did most of the damage on offense, totaling seven kills on 12 swings, while no other NU player had an attack error in the finale. NU seized command early on, running off five straight points, including four with Rachel Schwartz at the service line. Tracy Stalls capped the run with blocks on successive plays to put the Huskers up 9-5. From there, the Huskers continued to build the lead and cruised to its third win over a ranked opponent.

Alicia Waller led Cal Poly with a double-double, totaling 13 kills and 10 digs, while Kyle Atherstone also posted 10 kills in a losing effort.

The Huskers will close out the Ameritas Players Challenge against Minnesota Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The match will be carried state-wide on Nebraska Educational Television and carried nationally on CSTV.

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