Behind a match-high 13 kills and three blocks from Tara Mueller, second-ranked Nebraska turned in an impressive effort, sweeping No. 14 Cal Poly, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20) in front of a near-capacity crowd of 2,533 Friday night.
Mueller, the sophomore outside hitter from Scottsdale, Ariz., was dazzling against the Mustangs, hitting .440 on 25 swings and chipping in seven digs to help the Huskers improve to 5-0 on the season.
“You could tell she was in a zone tonight,” Cook said about Mueller’s effort, as she totaled 10 of her 13 in the final two sets, as Huskers became the first team to sweep Cal Poly in their home gym since 2004.
“Coach Cook kept talking about how this team had been preparing for us all year,” Mueller said. “I was working on my shots, moving the ball around and using the block.”
Nebraska’s outside hitters were the story, as the trio combined for 32 of the Huskers’ 43 kills on the night. Jordan Larson joined Mueller in double figures with her first double-double of the year, as the All-American totaled 11 kills and 11 digs, while Lindsey Licht added eight kills and three blocks. Sydney Anderson was sterling against Cal Poly with 39 assists, 10 digs and four kills in the sweep.
The Huskers stormed back from an early deficit to take the opener 25-20. The Huskers out-hit the Mustangs, .175-.049, as Licht had four kills on 10 swings and a pair of blocks, including a big solo stuff. The Huskers trailed 11-10 before Licht sparked an 8-2 Husker spurt. The sophomore started the run with a kill before a solo block gave the Huskers their first lead since the opening stages of the match. Kori Cooper than closed the run with a solo block to put Nebraska up 18-13. The Huskers eventually pushed the advantage to 21-15 after an Amanda Gates kill. The Mustangs fought back, running off three straight points to get within 21-18 and force a Husker timeout before a Mueller kill stemmed the run. Leading 22-19, kills from Larson and Licht gave the Huskers a five-point lead before Larson’s third kill of the set closed out the opener.
Nebraska put together one of its best sets of the year in posting a 25-19 win to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. The Huskers hit a blistering .387 as a team, as outside hitters Larson and Mueller combined for eight kills on .444 hitting. Nebraska held Cal Poly to .159 hitting, despite a strong showing from Kylie Atherstone, who drilled seven of the Mustangs’ 15 kills in the set. With the score tied at 13, Larson and Licht guided the Huskers on a decisive 8-3 run with two kills each, as Nebraska forged a 21-16 lead. Cal Poly got to within 22-18, but Mueller took over with a kill and combined on two stuffs to close out the set.
In the finale, the Huskers used a 7-1 spurt to take control and withstood a late Mustang rally for a 25-19 win to complete the sweep. Mueller was the star offensively, drilling home six kills and adding a block.
With the score tied at seven, Anderson’s kill sparked the decisive run, as the sophomore dished out four assists and combined on a block in the spurt, helping the Huskers extend the lead to 14-8 after a Larson kill. NU eventually pushed the lead to 19-11 after a Licht kill, but Cal Poly roared back, winning seven of the next eight rallies to pull within 20-18. The Huskers then stole back the momentum, as a Mueller kill and an Anderson solo block put NU ahead by four. Mueller than combined with Gates on a block and delivered her 13th kill of the night to pull the Huskers to match point before Anderson slammed home match point to give Nebraska its second sweep of the day.
Kylie Atherstone led Cal Poly (3-2) with 13 kills, while Ali Waller finished with 10 kills and 14 digs.
The Huskers will close out the tournament by taking on Tulane tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. (central). The match will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and on the Internet at Huskers.com.