Tracy Stalls, a senior middle blocker from Denver, Colo., paced the Husker attack with 11 kills on .846 hitting, the best night of her career and the third-highest hitting percentage in school history. Stalls, who entered Saturday's match ranked third nationally in hitting percentage, was successful on her first seven attempts en route to reaching double figures in kills for the seventh time this season. She also chipped in three blocks, as the Huskers improved to 25-1 overall and 17-1 in the Big 12 entering the final week of the regular season.
"Tracy seemed like she had a little extra jump in her step tonight," Cook said. "This is the time of year where everybody's mentally starting to feel it. It's a long season. It's time to get to the NCAA Tournament. You see a player like Tracy, and mentally she's able to just still crank it up when we're a little fatigued or we're feeling like that. That's what you want in your leaders."
While Stalls captivated a sellout crowd of 4,197 which included comedian and Husker fan Larry the Cable Guy, the match was quite a show in its own right with a pair of yellow cards and strong performances from the Huskers' supporting cast.
Maggie Griffin came off the bench for a season-high 10 assists in the Huskers' 6-2 sets while Amanda Gates and Lindsey Licht combined for six kills on 11 swings and four stuffs. Gates matched her 2007 high with three stuffs and added four kills, while Licht slammed home a pair of kills in her only two swings and added a solo block.
"I thought Maggie (Griffin) and Lindsey Light came in and gave us a nice spark," Cook said.
Sarah Pavan led four Huskers in double figures with 12 kills, while Christina Houghtelling, Jordan Larson and Stalls added 11 kills apiece, helping NU out-hit the Sooners .317 to .122. Houghtelling collected her ninth double-double of the year with a match-high 16 digs, while also adding three blocks, including a pair of solo stuffs.
Sarah Weiland led Oklahoma (20-8, 12-6 Big 12) with 13 kills, while Chrissy Disarro added seven kills and eight blocks, as the Sooners was held to a season low in hitting percentage and swept for only the fourth time in 18 conference matches.
The Huskers shook off some early jitters and pulled away with a 30-18 victory in the opener. The Huskers hit .364 as a team with every player recording at least two kills, while holding the Sooners to .071 hitting. Trailing 10-8, Pavan's kill began a 5-0 Huskers run, as Stalls ran off four straight points from the service line to give the Huskers a three-point lead. The Sooners stayed within striking distance at 19-16 before Stalls and Pavan helped the Huskers run off eight unanswered points. Stalls began the run with two kills and two blocks, while Pavan ran off seven straight points from the service line, capping the run with an ace that put the Huskers comfortably ahead at 27-16.
Nebraska was unable to build off the momentum from game one and found itself in a struggle before prevailing 30-25. NU committed 11 hitting errors and hit just .140 in an up-and-down game. The Sooners won the first five points and led 12-9 until Larson keyed an 8-1 run at the service line for the Big Red, helping NU take a 17-13 advantage. Oklahoma fought back to tie the game at 21 before rallying to take a 24-22 lead on a kill from Bridget Laplante and a Husker error. Following a Nebraska timeout, the Huskers regrouped behind Gates, who pulled NU within a point with her first kill before combining with Pavan for a block on Laplante to tie the score at 24. The teams traded points before Larson's kill put NU ahead to stay at 26-25. The junior then ran off the final four points of the game on serve, including an ace before Houghtelling slammed home two straight overpasses to send the Huskers to the locker room up 2-0.
The Huskers came out firing out of the intermission, hitting .514 as a team in completing the sweep with a 30-20 win. Pavan slammed five kills in eight swings, while Larson and Stalls combined for eight kills without an error on 12 attacks. Trailing 12-10, Nebraska raced off five straight points, taking a 15-12 lead on a Stalls kill that forced OU to take a timeout. The run continued and when the dust settled, NU had won 15 of 18 points to enjoy a 10-point cushion, at 25-15, and cruised to its 22nd sweep of the year.
The Huskers make the final road trip of the regular season on Wednesday, as they travel to Baylor. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. and fans can listen to the match on the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com.