Lincoln - Nearly 3,800 fans packed the NU Coliseum on Saturday night to watch the No. 2 Nebraska volleyball team's annual Red-White Scrimmage, as the Red squad took two-of-three sets (28-26, 21-25, 25-20). After practicing in an empty gym for the past two weeks, the Huskers were able to get out and performer in a regular-season type of atmosphere.
"The first thing we were looking for was how well they would compete," Head Coach John Cook said. "Even though we ran three different lineups tonight on both sides of the net, I thought they competed really well."
Individually, Tara Mueller produced a solid night with a match-high 14 kills, Allison McNeal and Jordan Wilberger each totaled five blocks while Lauren Cook and Sydney Anderson combined for 58 assists.
The Huskers matched each other point-for-point in the first set, before the Red squad escaped 28-26 following a block by Mueller and McNeal. Muller led both teams in kills with six on 11 swings (.455) and tied Hannah Werth for the set lead in digs with six. Returning 2009 AVCA All-American Brooke Delano defended the middle of the court for the Whites with a set-high three blocks.
Both teams showed off solid defense as neither group was able to build more than a four-point lead. The Reds hit at a .243 clip while holding the Whites to just .125 hitting.
The White squad turned the tide in set two, 25-21, as they found their rhythm at the net and hit .296. Jordan Wilberger was a key for the Whites, as the Scottsbluff native came off the bench to produce four blocks and a kill.
With the score even at 15, the Whites went on 7-0 run behind the serving of Cook. During the run, Mueller produced two kills and a block, Wilberger strung together four blocks and Lindsey Licht added two blocks. The Whites kept a solid lead to 24-18, but the Reds put the pressure on and got within three, 24-21. Following a timeout by the Whites, Gina Mancuso put the set away with her second kill of the set.
Mueller continued to pace both squads in kills with another five in the second set on just seven swings, while true freshman Morgan Broekhuis led the Reds with four kills.
The Reds swung the momentum back in set three, 25-20, as Delano and Licht chipped in four kills apiece and Mueller added six digs. Wilberger and Mancuso tried to keep the Whites in it with four kills each, but was not enough as the Whites only hit .162 as a team.
With the two teams again tied at 15, Delano, Licht and Mueller put away back-to-back-to-back kills to put separation between the two squads. After Megan Pendergast brought down a kill from the back row to put the Whites within reach at 20-24, Delano followed with the final kill of the night.
The Huskers will now take off Sunday and Monday, before heading back to the court on Tuesday to prepare for the upcoming season.
"We've got to solidify the lineup," Cook said. "I think the next big thing is we have to fine tune. To me, you always make the most improvements after your first match. For us, with this crowd tonight, that certainly gives us the feel of a first match."
The Huskers will open the 2010 regular season next Saturday at Qwest Center Omaha when they take on No. 14 Kentucky at the Runza/AVCA Showcase, followed by a match with No. 13 Florida on Sunday. Matches are set for 4:30 p.m. both days and will be carried nationally on CBS College Sports, as well as NET in the state of Nebraska.
Tickets to the 2010 Runza/AVCA Showcase are still available. All-session passes are priced at $39 (lower bowl reserved) or $32 (upper bowl reserved) and can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000, by visiting Ticketmaster.com or at the Qwest Center box office.