The No. 5 Nebraska volleyball team (26-2, 17-1 Big 12) completed the home portion of the 2010 regular-season Wednesday night with a perfect 13-0 record on Senior Night following a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-13) sweep of the Baylor Bears. The senior class of Sydney Anderson, Kayla Banwarth, Lindsey Licht and Tara Mueller earned the 112th victory of their careers and captured their third Big 12 title as the Huskers earned at least a share of this season’s crown with the win. Nebraska can win the title outright on Saturday with a win over Texas A&M.
“This senior class has been around for some big matches here and all four of players have been on the court for them,” Head Coach John Cook said. “They have been part of an exciting time for Nebraska volleyball. It’s been great to see how they’ve really grown since they got here and they are going to leave as great young women.”
Mueller played well both offensively and defensively as she notched her fifth double-double of the year and her first since playing at Oklahoma on Sept. 29 with a match-high 12 kills and 11 digs. Anderson tied teammate Lauren Cook for the match high in assists with 17 as the pair helped the Huskers out-hit the Bears, .283 to .160.
Banwarth once again anchored the Husker defense by tying her season best with a match-high 24 digs, while she also added an ace and five assists. Licht put away nine kills on the night as she scored set point for the Huskers in both the second and third sets.
Baylor took the lead early, 5-3, in the first set before Morgan Broekhuis notched her first kill of the match and then Mueller served four straight points, including an ace, to swing the lead in NU’s favor at 8-5. Following a timeout from Baylor Head Coach Jim Barnes the Bears responded with a 5-1 run to retake the lead, 10-9.
Nebraska was not down long as a 6-2 Husker run put the Huskers up three, 15-12, but Baylor came back with three straight to tie the match. Licht and Mueller would not let the Bears take the lead as the pair combined for three straight kills and Broekhuis added another to put Nebraska up four, 19-15. The Bears came clawing back once more with a 3-0 run to cut the Husker lead to one and force a timeout Cook. The Huskers were able to do just enough down the stretch to hold on and win the set, 25-21.
The Huskers hit .316 in the set but they also had 12 errors, including three service errors. Banwarth produced eight of the Huskers’ 17 digs in the set to hold the Bears to .188 hitting.
Nebraska got out to a much better start in the second set with wins in 10 of the first 15 rallies, led by Gina Mancuso’s three kills along with two kills from Mueller and an ace from Anderson. Then teams then played it even over the next 16 rallies before Mueller’s fourth kill of the set along with a combo block from Mancuso and Jordan Wilberger gave the Huskers their largest lead of the set at 20-13.
The Bears didn’t go away without a fight as they came back with a 6-2 run to cut the Husker lead to 22-19, resulting in a timeout from Cook. Licht made sure the Huskers headed to the locker room with a 2-0 lead in the match as she put away three straight kills out of the break to secure the set, 25-19.
Nebraska cleaned up its errors in the second set with just six while Banwarth added eight more digs.
Baylor came out swinging with a 5-0 run to start the third set before Cook took a timeout to halt the Bears’ momentum. Nebraska fought its way back with wins in seven of the next 10 rallies, including three kills from Mueller, to cut the BU lead to one, 8-7, resulting in a Baylor timeout.
The Bears continued to hold the lead over the next five rallies until they committed an error, which allowed the Huskers to tie the set at 10-10. Cook then broke the set open by serving nine straight points, including two aces, to give the Huskers a commanding 19-10 lead. The Huskers kept the pressure up and took the final set 25-13, as Licht ended the match with a kill. After getting down 5-0, the Huskers ended the set on a 25-8 run.
Nebraska now has one match left in the regular season as it takes on Texas A&M Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in College Station at Reed Arena. There is no TV coverage of the match, but it is expected to be shown on AggieAthletics.com. Fans can also listen to all of the action with John Baylor on the 25-station Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Twister 93.3 FM in Omaha. Fans outside the network can find the audio stream for free on Huskers.com.
On Sunday the Huskers will find out their fate for the NCAA Tournament during the NCAA Selection Show. The live show is scheduled to be on ESPNews from 2-2:30 p.m. (CT), while the NCAA Tournament starts next Friday, Dec. 3