No. 2 Nebraska Sweeps Texas A&M

10/22/2008

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LINCOLN, Neb. - Outside hitters Tara Mueller and Jordan Larson combined for 26 kills, leading second-ranked Nebraska to a 3-0 sweep (25-16, 25-18, 25-13) of Texas A&M Wednesday night at the NU Coliseum.

The Huskers (19-0, 10-0 Big 12) overcame a slow start and gained momentum throughout the match, out-hitting the Aggies, .319-.106, and enjoying an 11.5-3 advantage in blocks in posting their 90th consecutive win inside the state borders and 81st consecutive home win dating back to 2004. Wednesday's match was significant, as the Huskers donned pink warm-ups and encouraged fans wear pink to recognize breast cancer awareness.

Mueller put together one of the best matches of her career, recording 13 kills on a career-best .478 hitting, while also adding a personal best five blocks, while Larson continued her stellar all-around play with 13 kills on a season-best .407 hitting,  two solo blocks and six digs. Sydney Anderson dished out 34 assists and added three blocks, as the Huskers hit over .300 for the eighth time this season. 

Nebraska Head Coach John Cook said he was nervous about the match, as the Huskers had not been sharp since having last weekend, and his fears were well-founded early on before NU regained its focus.

"I've seen (the sluggishness) for the last two days," Cook said. "I was really nervous tonight because we didn't train very well the last two days. That's one of the risks you take when you give them days off. You lose that edge. It took us a while to play into it tonight, but I thought in game three they really could see us start coming back. We pretty much blocked and dug everything they hit and started siding out pretty well."

Nebraska used a flourish to close out the first set, winning 11 of the final 12 rallies to post a 25-16 victory. The Huskers hit .345 in the set, as Mueller put down five kills on eight swings, while Lindsey Licht had four kills on just five swings. The teams traded points for most of the first half of the set and the Aggies led 15-14 heading into the media timeout. That would be Texas A&M's final lead of the set, as the Huskers used strong serving by Kayla Banwarth and a stifling block to run off six unanswered points, taking a 21-15 lead on a stuff by Amanda Gates and Sydney Anderson.  After a Husker service error, Nebraska closed out the set with four straight points, as Gates, Mueller, Licht all combined on a block to close out the set, the fourth block of the run.

Gates led the Husker defensive effort, recording eight stuffs in her best effort in a month, as the Huskers recorded double-figure blocks for the third time in the last six matches. Banwarth totaled a match-high 14 digs and added a pair of service aces.

The Huskers continued the momentum from the opening set, racing out to an 8-2 lead and never trailing in posting a 25-18 victory. Mueller and Larson carried the Big Red attack, combining for 11 kills between them. Mueller also had four digs and combined with Gates for a trio of blocks, holding the Aggies to a .182 hitting percentage The Huskers used serving runs by Anderson and Gates to jump out to the early lead. The Aggies chipped away and pulled to within 11-7, but a Mueller kill and a Banwarth ace quickly pushed the margin back to six points. Leading 17-13, the Huskers took control and won four of the next five rallies to extending its margin to its largest lead of the set at 21-14. Texas A&M ran off three straight points to get within 21-17 after a Husker error and force a timeout, but two straight Mueller kills and a triple block by Gates, Mueller and Brooke Delano made it 24-17.

Nebraska's offense got rolling in the finale, as the Huskers hit .478 and committed one hitting error in a 25-13 victory. Larson had five kills, two solo blocks and an ace in the set, while holding Texas A&M (9-11, 4-6 Big 12) to .067 hitting after the break. The Huskers took most of the suspense out of the set early, racing out to a 6-1 cushion before building an 11-4 lead at A&M's first timeout. NU pushed the lead to 16-6 after an Amanda Gates kill and led 20-8 before cruising to a 12-point win.

Mary Batis led Texas A&M with seven kills, while Sarah Ammerman and Stephanie Wells added six kills apiece in the loss, as the Aggies dropped their 18th consecutive match to Nebraska.

The Huskers now hit the road for a pair of matches, traveling to Oklahoma on Saturday night. First serve between the Huskers and Sooners is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried on the Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Twister 93.3 FM in Omaha, and on Huskers.com.

Article courtesy of Nebraska athletics.

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