No.1 Nebraska Falls in Four at Long Beach State

By NU Athletic Communications
Long Beach, Calif. -- The top-ranked Nebraska volleyball suffered its first lost since Dec. 9, 1999, when it fell to No. 8 Long Beach State, 26-30, 30-28, 29-31, 25-30, Saturday night before 4,940 fans at The Pyramid. The loss stopped the Huskers? consecutive wins streak at 36, which ranks tied for fifth all-time in NCAA history.

?The streak means nothing to us,? Nebraska Coach John Cook said. ?We weren?t trying to break any records, or we wouldn?t have scheduled Long Beach State. They just got back from a trip to Europe. It was their 13th match. They are weeks ahead of us at this point. They are a very good team, and they were hungry to beat us.?

Long Beach State (2-0) was led by AVCA All-American Cheryl Weaver and middle blocker Tayyiba Haneef, who each posted 21 kills.

Senior right side hitter Nancy Metcalf led the Huskers (2-1) in the effort, pounding a match-high 25 kills with a .477 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Amber Holmquist tallied 12 kills while hitting at a .429 clip, and senior middle blocker Jenny Kropp had 10 kills and hit .304 while adding five blocks.

Junior setter Greichaly Cepero, who had to be taken to the hospital Friday night while fighting the flu, totaled 54 assists, but the Huskers hit just .245 as a team.

?Greicha was weak and not herself tonight,? Cook said. ?But she wanted to play, and she came in and gave a great effort. I was very proud of her. We didn?t exactly help her out. We had a lot of things go wrong on our side of the net.?

The score was tied 12 times in game four before Long Beach State took a 20-18 lead on back-to-back ace serves by Brittany Hochevar. The Huskers tied it for the 13th time after kills from Holmquist and Kropp. The 49ers answered with a 5-0 run that included two kills and a block from Weaver. Pilakowski made it 25-21, 49ers, with a cross-court strike, and Metcalf cut the Long Beach State lead to two with a kill. Long Beach State scored three straight to force a game-point situation, but Metcalf saved NU temporarily with a kill. But the 49ers took the 30-25 fourth-game lead and the match on the next possession when Haneef slammed her 21st kill down the middle.

In game one, the 49ers broke a 13-13 tie with a kill from Ashanti Taylor. A service ace from Hochevar and another kill from Taylor made it 16-13, Long Beach State. The Huskers cut the lead to one when Metcalf tipped over the 49er block, but Long Beach State increased its advantage to 23-19 after back-to-back NU attack errors. Laura Pilakowski slammed a kill do wn the middle to bring the Huskers within two, and Kropp notched a kill on the next possession to bring NU within a point. Once again, Long Beach State benefited from back-to-back hitting errors by Nebraska to take a 27-24 lead. The Huskers made it 27-26 with two kills from Metcalf. However, a kill from Haneef and two from Weaver gave Long Beach State the 30-26 game one win.

It was the first time since Nov. 8, 2000, at Texas A&M that Nebraska fell in game one. The Huskers .184 in game one, well below their .344 average, while the 49ers swung at a .325 clip.

The Huskers bounced back in the second, breaking a 10-10 tie with a 3-0 run that included two kills from Pilakowski. Nebraska led 18-13 after a kill from Metcalf and continued to roll. An ace serve from Metcalf made it 23-14, giving NU its largest lead of the match. The 49ers finally stalled NU with a block of Cepero, and then pulled within six with a kill from Hochevar. Taylor swung successfully three times form the left side and cut the Huskers? lead to two.

Metcalf made it 28-25, ending a long rally with a tip over the Long Beach State block. Kropp slammed down a 49er overpass to force a game-point situation, but Haneef held NU off with a kill. She blocked Kropp, then pounded an overpass from Nebraska to make it 29-28. But the Huskers pulled out the 30-28 second-game victory when the 49ers were called for a net violation.

Nebraska was in control in the third game as it built a 20-17 lead behind four kills from Metcalf. Long Beach State tied it at 24 with a kill from Haneef, and then took the lead on a cross court strike from Hochevar. Metcalf answered with a shot down the middle, and the Huskers regained the lead when Anna Schrad and Holmquist combined to block Haneef. The 49ers roared back with a 3-0 run, forcing a game-point situation on a kill by Weaver. Holmquist held Long Beach State off with a kill, and Cepero and Holmquist blocked Hochevar to tie it at 29. A service error by Nebraska put the 49ers in a game-point situation once again, and Weaver hit through NU?s left-side block for the 31-29 third-game win.

The Huskers will face their fourth ranked opponent in as many matches tomorrow when they take on No. 13 UC Santa Barbara at 5 p.m. at The Pyramid.


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