Grand Island, Neb. - The Nebraska volleyball team opened the competitive part of its spring slate on Saturday night with a 3-2 win over Wichita State in front of a packed crowd of 5,522 fans at the Heartland Events Center. Gina Mancuso, Jordan Wilberger and Morgan Broekhuis each put away 12 kills and Lauren Cook notched 43 assists to lead the Husker attack, while Paige Hubl produced a match-high three aces. NU's defense out-blocked the Shockers, 16-6, as Wilberger, Broekhuis, Mancuso and Hayley Thramer all had five blocks to hold WSU to .139 hitting. Mancuso capped her stellar night with a match-high 17 digs.
The Huskers started the match with a kill from Mancuso and they never looked back with a 25-19 win in set one. Mancuso paced NU's attack as the junior from Omaha put away six of the Huskers' 15 kills, while Broekhuis and Hannah Werth each added four kills. Nebraska's defense only notched three blocks in the set, but held the Shockers to .179 hitting, led by Elizabeth Fields' four kills. Freshman Lara Dykstra held her own in her first game action with two separate 3-0 serving runs.
Wichita State bounced back in set two with a 25-21 win behind four kills from Sam Sanders. The Huskers held the Shockers to .156 hitting with five total blocks, including three stuffs from Thramer, but the NU offense sputtered and hit just .091 with 10 kills and seven errors on 33 swings. NU put up a 4-0 late when they were down 24-17 behind the serve of Hubl, but Sanders ended the set with a kill from Chelsey Feekin.
The break between sets two and three woke up the Huskers as they responded with a 25-17 win in set three to take back the lead in the match, 2-1. The Huskers defense picked up the pressure as they held the Shockers to -.029 hitting with just two blocks. Five Huskers had at least two kills, including three from Broekhuis, as the Huskers hit .321 in the set behind 10 assists from Cook. NU also notched two aces with one each from Werth and Hubl.
Just like in set two, Nebraska struggled with its attack in set four and hit .062, compared to WSU's .263 hitting percentage. NU won the serving battle with two aces from Dykstra and no team errors, while Wichita State had five serving errors, but the Shockers forced a fifth set with a 25-23 win.
The Huskers caught fire in the final set and wouldn't be denied as they hit .600 behind six assists from Cook and three kills from Wilberger. Hubl added another ace and NU put up five blocks to hold the Shockers to .071 hitting with six kills and five errors on 14 swings.
The Huskers will now return to the NU Coliseum for a pair of home matches the next two Saturdays. NU will take on Iowa State at 7 p.m. on April 16 and then Tianjin Bridgestone, one of the top professional teams in China, on April 23 at 7 p.m.
Tickets for both matches are currently on sale at Huskers.com, by calling the NU Ticket Office at 800-8BIGRED or by visiting the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office in person weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Reserved tickets are $10 with GA tickets set at $8. All currently enrolled UNL students are eligible to receive one free ticket to each match, but must secure a ticket in advance either online at Huskers.com, by phone at 472-3111 or in person at the Athletic Ticket Office located just west of Memorial Stadium, while supplies last.