Huskers Top American in NCAA Tournament

Sophomore Jordan Larson recorded her 20th double-double of the season with 16 kills and 14 digs, as the No. 1-seeded Nebraska volleyball team used a strong defensive effort to hold off an upstart American squad, 3-1 (30-16, 30-23, 28-30, 30-16) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the sold-out NU Coliseum Friday night.

Larson, who tied for team-high honors in kills with junior Sarah Pavan, Larson hit .343 in the match and added four aces and four blocks, including a pair of solo stuffs. Pavan hit .387 and added five digs and a pair of blocks, as Nebraska improved to 28-1 on the season.

Nebraska will take on Northern Iowa, a 3-1 winner over Winthrop earlier Friday, tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m. A small number of reserved tickets at $15 apiece will go on sale Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the NU Coliseum Ticket office.

While Nebraska used a balanced offensive attack, it was the Huskers' defense that propelled NU to its 28th victory of the season. NU held American (26-6) below .100 hitting in three of the four games, including a -.051 mark in the first game and a -.184 attack percentage in game four. On the night, the Eagles hit just .050, more than .200 points below their season average of .279.

Highlighting the stellar defensive night for the Huskers was senior Dani Busboom, who tallied 20 digs to become NU's single-season digs leader. Busboom, who reached the 20-dig mark for the seventh time this year, upped her total to 485 on the season, shattering the previous mark of 480 set my Amanda McCormick in 2004.

The Huskers were also strong at the net, recording 16 blocks, compared to just nine for American. Junior Tracy Stalls led the block parade with 10, two shy of her season high. Dani Mancuso tied her career high with six blocks, while also matching her season high with 11 kills.

The Eagles, who became the first team to take a game from NU in the opening round since 1992, earned praise from the Husker coaches and players for their inspired play on Friday.

"We learned some things from this match, and we've got to give a lot of credit to American," Cook said. "They made a lot of plays, and they served extremely tough. We stayed nice and steady, and certainly dominated the first game.

"I told the girls, this is the same thing as what they call basketball in March, ‘March Madness.' It's the same thing here," Cook said. "American had a lot of motivation for this match, because they felt like they deserved a higher seed than playing Nebraska, and they certainly played like it."

Elizabeth Maloney led American with 12 kills on .346 hitting, while Chelsa Brooks added 11 kills while hitting .143. Ivana Cebakova paced the defense with 16 digs, while Brooks paced the team with five blocks.

With the win, Nebraska improved its winning streak at the Coliseum to 53 in a row, the eighth-longest streak in NCAA history. The Huskers also improved to 42-3 all-time in NCAA Tournament play at the NU Coliseum, including a 20-1 mark in first-round matches.

American (25-7) saw its 19-match winning streak snapped by the Huskers, as the Eagles – who have advanced to the postseason eight times – came up short of earning the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.

The Huskers staggered the Eagles in the opener, using the strong serving of Rachel Holloway and Jordan Larson to jump to a quick 14-1 lead. Holloway served the first five points, while Larson, who had three kills in the early spurt, then raced off seven straight points, capped by a pair of Mancuso kills to take a commanding lead.

American then settled down, pulling to as close as 20-14 and forcing a Nebraska timeout. The Eagles eventually pulled to within 21-15, but NU could get no closer, as NU ran off nine of the final 10 points, as kills by Busboom and Larson closed out a 30-16 win.

Larson enjoyed an outstanding first game, finishing with seven kills on 10 swings, while adding an ace. Behind Larson's performance, Nebraska hit .343 in game one, while the Husker defense held American to -.051 hitting.

American started game two much better, as the Eagles flew to a 4-1 lead before NU pulled ahead for the first time at 10-9. The Eagles regained the lead at 15-14 and forced a Husker timeout after a 4-1 run.

Nebraska quickly earned the lead following the timeout, but the game remained back-and-forth until the Huskers until the serving of Maggie Griffin sparked a key run. The junior served five served five straight points, as her fifth ace of the season pushed the lead to 25-18. The Eagles would not go quietly, cutting a 26-20 Husker lead to 26-23. It looked like American would pull to within two, but a terrific diving dig from Busboom won a point for the Huskers and sparked a game-ending 4-0 run.

The momentum Nebraska built at the end of game two didn't carry over to game three as American was sharp early in jumping out to a quick 8-4 advantage. The Eagles maintained a lead until a Larson kill and a service ace from Holloway put the Huskers up 12-11. Another ace from Larson and a thunderous kill from Mancuso pushed the Huskers' lead to 15-12 at the media timeout.

American stayed close before pulling even in the match at 19-19 and trailed 23-20 before the play of Rubena Sukaj sparked the Eagles to their best run of the night. The Patriot League Player of the Year, Sukaj served two aces in a 4-0 run to give American a 25-23 lead after her second ace. NU eventually pulled to within 29-28, but Sukaj's kill gave the Eagles the hard-fought win.

Nebraska, which dropped a game for the first time in four matches, responded well to losing game three as the Huskers ran to a quick 6-1 lead in game four. The Huskers' quick start did not deter American, as the Eagles won nine of the next 11 points to take a 10-9 lead. That would be Americans' last lead of the match, as the Huskers began to wear American down behind Tracy Stalls, who had four of her six kills in the finale.

NU regained the lead but the game remained tight until Nebraska took control of the game and the match with a 7-0 run. It was Larson at the service line during the run again, as NU opened up a nine-point lead at 22-13 before the run was over, ending Americans' upset hopes. 

The Huskers will return to action Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. against Northern Iowa. The match will be televised state-wide on NET and NET-HD and carried on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Omaha.




Nebraska Quotes
John Cook
Opening statement
"We learned some things from this match, and we've got to give a lot of credit to American. They made a lot of plays, and they served extremely tough. We stayed nice and steady, and certainly dominated the first game."

On the high level of motivation from American for this game
"I told the girls, this is the same thing as what they call basketball in March, ‘March Madness.' It's the same thing here. American had a lot of motivation for this match, because they felt like they deserved a higher seed than playing Nebraska, and they certainly played like it. Sometimes in volleyball, when you lose your focus and momentum, it's hard to get it back, especially when a team is playing like American was tonight. But I thought we started off the match playing great. We were executing at a really high level."

Jordan Larson
On the crowd helping Nebraska get through the match
"It definitely helped to have the crowd behind us, I just felt the love from the crowd, and it's just a great feeling to have a crowd that cares so much about how we do. I think if we have that every game, there's going to be no competition (from other venues), that's for sure."

On what the team can take from the match
"I think (Dani) Busboom said it great in the locker room, that we can't let it knock our confidence, because we've been playing some great volleyball. It's just another step toward our journey, and we've just got to keep fighting. We just can't let it get to our heads, and from here on out, it's just got to get better."

Dani Mancuso
On American's impressive performance
"Tonight, as Coach Cook said, American definitely got its money's worth. It seemed like they wanted it more than we did at some times, honestly. It was definitely something that will help us along the way, in the next game and hopefully down the road."

American Quotes
Head coach Barry Goldberg
On his thoughts on the game
"We played hard. We made too many unforced errors, especially early on, but we played better as the match went on. That was the difference in game three; we didn't make as many errors. We ran into some rotation problems in game four and we couldn't get through it. I'm proud of our team."

On the fans' respect
"I heard a lot about ‘Husker Nation,' about the great fan following here in Nebraska and the appreciation they have for their team. One person after another congratulated me as I left the gym. It's great to see how much they appreciate the game. We appreciated them, they were a great crowd with a lot of enthusiasm."

On this being the team's best showing
"I thought our team was better than our seed indicated. I was disappointed to see that we were playing Nebraska in the first round. The last 13 games of our season before this we won 3-0 each time. We kept getting better and better as the season went on. We gave a good effort and have nothing to hang our heads about."

On the play of senior hitter Elizabeth Maloney
"Liz is a great example of how our team progressed through the season. She struggled early, her hitting percentage was down. But she just got better and better through the season, and I think we saw that tonight. We're really going to miss her."

Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Maloney
On the mood of the team after going down early in game one
"We didn't get too down. We knew we had to stay patient, keep fighting, and keep plugging away. We played a lot better as the game went on and in game three."

On playing in the Coliseum
"It's great to play in this gym. We knew it was going to be loud with all of the fans. It was a great atmosphere for volleyball."


   Nebraska Volleyball
             American vs #1 Nebraska (Dec 01, 2006 at Lincoln, NE)



   American               |     ATTACK      |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF|  BLOCK |GEN
## Name                 GP|  K   E  TA   PCT|  A| SA  SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1  Krauss, Maile.......  1|  0   0   0  .000|  3|  0   0|  0|  0| 0  0  0|  1|   0.0
2  Cebakova, Ivana.....  4|  5   5  19  .000|  1|  0   1|  5| 16| 0  0  0|  0|   5.0
6  Brooks, Chelsa......  4| 11   7  28  .143|  0|  0   1|  0|  2| 2  3  1|  0|  14.5
7  Sukaj, Rubena.......  4|  5  11  44 -.136|  1|  3   2|  2|  8| 0  0  0|  1|   8.0
8  Recht, Ann..........  4|  4   1  14  .214|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 3  1  0|  0|   7.5
12 Maloney, Elizabeth..  4| 12   3  26  .346|  3|  0   1|  0|  9| 0  2  0|  0|  13.0
4  Paganini, Tessa.....  2|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  0   0|  0|  1| 0  0  0|  0|   0.0
9  Stradling, Tara.....  2|  0   0   0  .000|  1|  1   1|  0|  7| 0  0  0|  0|   1.0
10 Borecka, Julia......  3|  5   7  21 -.095|  0|  0   0|  0|  6| 0  0  0|  0|   5.0
11 Nash, Christina.....  4|  3   3   9  .000| 30|  1   2|  0|  9| 0  2  0|  2|   5.0
16 Striebel, Logan.....  2|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  0   0|  0|  1| 0  0  0|  0|   0.0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Totals..............  4| 45  37 161  .050| 39|  5   8|  7| 59| 5  8  1|  4|  59.0

 TEAM ATTACK PER GAME                                           TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 9.0
 Game  K  E  TA   Pct Sideout Pct
   1   8 10  39 -.051  10-30  33%   GAME SCORES               1  2  3  4  TEAM RECORDS
   2  10  7  36  .083  11-29  37%   American............ (1) 16 23 30 16  26-6
   3  20  6  48  .292  17-29  58%   Nebraska............ (3) 30 30 28 30  28-1
   4   7 14  38 -.184   9-29  31%

   Nebraska               |     ATTACK      |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF|  BLOCK |GEN
## Name                 GP|  K   E  TA   PCT|  A| SA  SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5  Schwartz, Rachel....  4|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  0   0|  3|  5| 0  0  0|  0|   0.0
9  Pavan, Sarah........  4| 16   4  31  .387|  2|  0   0|  0|  5| 0  2  0|  0|  17.0
10 Larson, Jordan......  4| 16   4  35  .343|  1|  4   2|  2| 14| 2  2  0|  0|  23.0
11 Stalls, Tracy.......  4|  6   7  26 -.038|  1|  0   1|  0|  3| 0 10  0|  0|  11.0
12 Holloway, Rachel....  4|  4   5  11 -.091| 47|  2   0|  0| 11| 0  4  0|  0|   8.0
15 Cooper, Kori........  3|  3   3  10  .000|  0|  0   0|  0|  1| 0  0  0|  0|   3.0
1  Griffin, Maggie.....  4|  0   0   0  .000|  0|  1   0|  0|  0| 0  0  0|  0|   1.0
7  Mancuso, Dani.......  4| 11   6  32  .156|  0|  0   0|  0|  3| 0  6  0|  0|  14.0
17 Gates, Amanda.......  2|  3   0   3 1.000|  0|  0   0|  0|  0| 0  4  0|  0|   5.0
18 Busboom, Dani.......  4|  2   0   3  .667|  5|  0   2|  0| 20| 0  0  0|  0|   2.0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Totals..............  4| 61  29 151  .212| 56|  7   5|  5| 62| 2 28  0|  0|  84.0

 TEAM ATTACK PER GAME                                           TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 16.0
 Game  K  E  TA   Pct Sideout Pct
   1  17  5  35  .343  10-16  62%   Site: Lincoln, NE (NU Coliseum)
   2  15 10  41  .122  12-24  50%   Date: Dec 01, 2006   Attend: 4178   Time: 1:53
   3  19  8  46  .239  16-29  55%   Referees: Tara Martin, Daryl Korinek
   4  10  6  29  .138  10-17  58%   ID-515232

                                         1   2   3   4 Total
                        Tie scores       0  10   8   3    21
                        Lead changes     0   3   5   2    10






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