Husker Defense Continues to Shine in Sweep of Aggies
"Texas A&M played really well," Head Coach John Cook said. "They were really serving tough."
The Huskers defense was the star of the night as Nebraska held the Aggies' Kelsey Black, who entered the match with a Big 12-best 4.10 kills per set, to -.048 hitting (12-14-42). Texas A&M hit just .085 on the night as Lindsey Licht led Nebraska with eight blocks, while Brooke Delano added seven and Jordan Wilberger produced six stuffs.
"We had a really great week of practice," Cook said. "Today was one of our best days of serving and pass. I felt really confident we'd play well tonight."
Lauren Cook (20) and Sydney Anderson (16) combined for 36 assists as three Huskers had five or more kills, including a match-high 13 from Licht. Cook also put away a season-best two kills and notched her third double-double of the season with a team-high 11 digs.
The Huskers struggled to pass well right off the bat in set one, resulting in a 6-3 Aggie lead. Nebraska didn't let the Aggies get far away though as Delano, Licht and Gina Mancuso tightened the Huskers' defense with three straight blocks to even the match at 6-6. Following a kill from Chelsea Ringel, Delano added a block and a kill on consecutive rallies followed by a Texas A&M error to give Nebraska its first lead of the match at 9-7.
Nebraska's lead would not last long as the Aggies reeled off three straight of their own to regain the lead at 10-9. Texas A&M would continue to string together points and after two separate 3-0 runs, the Aggies built a 16-12 advantage. Nebraska then came alive and won six of the next eight rallies to tie the set at 18-18, with Cook, Licht and Mancuso all posting kills, while Delano and Licht combined for a block.
The teams would trade the next four rallies before a block from Wilberger and Morgan Broekhuis gave Nebraska its third lead of the set, 21-20, and forced a timeout from Texas A&M. The Aggies tied the set once more out of the break with a kill from Stephanie Minnerly, but it would be their last as Nebraska took the next four rallies to win the set 25-21.
Delano and Licht each recorded four blocks to lead a stout defensive effort in set one that saw Nebraska posted seven team blocks, resulting in a .025 hitting percentage from Texas A&M.
Nebraska started much better in set two with wins on three of the first four rallies, including Delano's fifth block of the match. The Huskers would coast through the set as Texas A&M would trail the entire way after the set was tied at 1-1.
With the Huskers still in control at 10-7, Nebraska put up a 4-0 run to double-up the Aggies, 14-7, resulting in an Aggie timeout. The stoppage in play failed to slow the Huskers' attack as they continued to string together rallies and eventually took a 20-10 lead, with Cook dishing to Licht on four of the Huskers six points during the run. Nebraska ended the set by taking five of the next seven rallies, with a combo block from Broekhuis and Wilberger sealing the set for the Huskers, 25-12.
While Nebraska's defense shined in the first set, the Husker offense came alive in set two with a .591 hitting percentage. Anderson and Cook combined for 13 assists while Delano went 4-4 on kills and Licht nearly matched her teammate with a 5-6 (.833) performance.
Down 0-2 in the match the Aggies didn't go away easily in set three as a 4-0 run gave them the lead early, 5-3. The Huskers responded by taking six of the next seven rallies, including two kills from Licht, to swing the advantage in Nebraska's favor at 9-6. Once again though the Aggies fought back and retook the lead, 12-11, following a block from Lindsey Miller and Black.
A one-point lead would bounce back-and-forth between the squads over the next 14 rallies until a Husker error resulted in a two-point lead for the Aggies, 20-18, and a timeout from Nebraska.
Following the timeout the Aggies pushed the lead to three, but Nebraska soon cut it to one with a kill from Broekhuis an ace from Cook. The run would be cut short though as the Aggies took the next rallies to reach set point, 24-20, and force a second timeout from Nebraska.
The Huskers rallied out of the break with a kill and block from Wilberger to pressure the Aggies and force a Texas A&M timeout. The break failed to stop the Huskers' momentum as Tara Mueller put away a kill and Black committed an error to tie the set at 24-24 before an error from Licht once again put Texas A&M at set point, 25-24.
The sellout crowd of 4,116 kept the Huskers going as Wilberger tied the set with a kill, Delano teamed with Licht on a block to take the lead and Black committed her 14th error of the match to polish off the Huskers' comeback, 27-25.
The Huskers will now have their first bye of the conference season on Wednesday night, before hitting the road for a 7 p.m. match next Saturday against the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan. There will be no TV coverage of the match, but as always fans can listen to all of the action with John Baylor and Lindsey Peterson on the 25-station Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Twister 93.3 FM in Omaha. Fans outside the state will also be able to listen to a live audio feed for free on Huskers.com.