No. 9 Huskers Sweep Aggies
Lincoln – Kori Cooper and Brooke Delano combined for 25 kills and seven blocks, leading No. 9 Nebraska to a 3-0 sweep (29-27, 25-17, 25-15) over Texas A&M Friday night.
Nebraska’s middles keyed a big offensive night for the Big Red, as the Huskers (19-6, 12-4 Big 12) hit .372 against Texas A&M in picking up its third straight win. It is the third straight match Nebraska has hit .300 or better, as John Cook collected his 300th career win at Nebraska.
Senior All-American Kori Cooper topped Nebraska with 13 kills on a career-high .765 hitting, while Brooke Delano totaled 12 kills on .556 hitting and five of the Huskers’ eight blocks. It marked the fourth time this year that both Delano and Cooper have finished with at least 10 kills.
Right side hitter Lindsey Licht continued her strong play, tying Cooper for match-high honors with 13 kills on a season-best .619 hitting and three block, as the trio combined for 38 kills and just two errors on 56 swings. All-American Sydney Anderson dished out 47 assists and added two blocks, as Nebraska hit .450 or better in each of the last two sets to avenge a four-set loss in College Station in September.
The first set was a battle in persistence for Nebraska, as the Huskers had four set points before finally taking the opener, 29-27 in of the best sets for both teams all year. Nebraska relied on its middle attack, as Delano and Cooper combined for nine kills and three blocks in the opener. Delano had six kills on .625 hitting and a pair of blocks, as NU hit .265 compared to .227 for Texas A&M. The teams traded points until Delano and Anderson combined on a block to give NU a 15-13 lead at the media timeout. The Aggies came right back, winning five of the next six rallies to pull ahead at 18-16 off a Sarah Ammerman kill and force NU to take a timeout. Nebraska regrouped, as a Delano kill and a ball-handling error tied the score and the teams would trade points until a Delano kill gave the Huskers their first chance to win the set at 24-23. The Aggies fought back, holding off a pair of set points until a kill from Lindsey Miller and a Husker error gave Texas A&M a chance to win the set. Nebraska battled through it, as a kill from Cooper tied the score at 26 and NU had a third set point at 27, but Ammerman’s seventh kill of the set kept the Aggies alive. NU then took control, as a kill from Licht gave NU a one-point lead before Ammerman ended a long rally with a hitting error.
Nebraska took the momentum from the opener and continued to play strong volleyball, hitting a blistering .452 in the second set in posting a 25-17 victory. Licht, Delano and Cooper combined for 13 kills on just 17 swings, while Kayla Banwarth anchored a solid defense with nine of her 16 digs. Nebraska used strong serving from Anderson and freshman Hannah Werth to key the Huskers to an early 6-1 run, taking a 7-3 lead on a kill from Licht. The Aggies pulled within 8-5, but a solo block from Delano ignited a three-point run to make it 11-5 after a kill from the sophomore middle. The Aggies eventually pulled to within 12-8, but Nebraska scored eight of the next 12 points to take a 20-12 lead after a big block from Licht and Delano and took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
Nebraska kept the pressure on in the finale, hitting .455 in completing its 13th sweep of the season. Licht totaled six kills on nine swings, while Cooper put down four kills on five swings. Leading 8-7, Nebraska ran off five straight points, taking a six-point lead and forcing Texas A&M to take a timeout. Texas A&M eventually pulled to within 16-11, but a kill from Licht and strong serving from freshman Gina Mancuso salted the match away. Mancuso delivered a pair of aces in a 5-0 spurt, giving the Huskers a comfortable 21-11 cushion, and Texas A&M would not get within eight points the rest of the match.
Ammerman led Texas A&M (14-10, 7-9 Big 12) with 13 kills, while Jennifer Banse added 12kills and 10 digs in a losing effort, as the Aggies dropped their third straight match.
The Huskers will return to the court Wednesday evening, as they take on No. 21 Baylor. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried on selected Husker Sports Network stations and on Huskers.com. In addition, the match will be televised live on NET-1 and NET-HD.
On the difference between the first and second games
“I think we came out and I think the difference in the second game is that we were calmer. I really don’t think there was a much of a difference. We just came out harder in the second game. We came out swinging harder. Our serving and passing was great. Our defenders were great. I think we figured out what we needed to do and we got it done.”
On the win
“Coach Cook has always said whoever wins the first game is going to come out stronger and tougher. We came out that first game and we kind of struggled, but we found a way to win and that’s what we do. We’re good at that. We’re good at coming back and finding ways to win.”
On what Nebraska did to win
“The big thing that Coach Cook has talked about is taking care of opportunities, like free balls, and anything they get back over to just terminate. I think we did a great job of that tonight. They got a ball over and we’d put it on top of Sydney’s (Anderson) head and we worked with it. We put it away. I think we did a great job with that.”
On how the team has changed since its loss to Texas A&M
“I think that I’m a different player now than I was then. I think that’s going to continue with time to get better. That was a long time ago. We’re a completely different. Everyone’s a different player, and we’re just playing Nebraska volleyball and tonight that was Nebraska volleyball. It was kind of like a welcome home. Everyone was playing their game. We were fired on all cylinders. I think we’re a completely different team than we were in September.”
On if the team got fired up after Iowa State
“I think it was sort of the same feeling going into Iowa State and then coming into this match. We wanted revenge, and Texas A&M beat us and we didn’t think they were a team that should be able to beat us. We came out tonight and we proved that.”
On what contributed to her play tonight
“I think it was a combination of a lot of things. I was really fresh tonight. I took a couple of days off of practice this week just to stay fresh since we had an off day. I think that really helped. Our training staff and our coaching staff and me working together have done a really good job of keeping me steady and fresh the entire year. I think that’s going to benefit me in December.”
On the team this season
“I think we have a great relationship. Not that they didn’t in the past, but our trust is something we work on every single day. I’m the type of player that loves being up early, that loves being quick, just up wherever I’m at. Sydney trusts that I’ll be there. I think with Coop (Kori Cooper) as well, we just have a great trust level.”
On the team’s growth over the season
“I think we’ve grown in many ways and tonight it shows that our trust is so much higher and we compete for each other. We’re just not taking it for granted.
Nebraska Coach John Cook
On how Nebraska won the first set
“I think the biggest thing is that we couldn’t stop (Lindsey) Miller and Jennifer (Banse). We couldn’t stop anything behind their setter or quick, so they were really good. We did a great job on their left sides, (Sarah) Ammerman and (Mary) Batis. That was the key and those guys usually take the most swings and that’s where their offense is geared to. We did a great job on them. The only way you stop those guys was serving. I think in game three, Gina (Mancuso) and Sydney (Anderson) made a big run there. Hannah (Werth) made a big run. So you’re able to break their passers and make some runs. That was the difference in games two and three. We couldn’t do that in game one. So we started breaking down their passers and when you play teams that are as offensive as they are, they’re so good in system you’ve got to serve it and get them out of system.”
On Kori Cooper
“The problem is that (Kori) Cooper gets tired, and she doesn’t have her athleticism or quickness or jump. It wears down. We gave her Monday and Tuesday off and then our team was off Wednesday, but she actually came in and did some work. We powered her up Thursday. You saw the result of that tonight. She was bouncing around and she was quick and dynamic. I think this week was really good for her. We saw some definite results in that time.”
On Texas A&M’s defense in the first set
“Teams are going to dig balls. Defensively they’re going to dig balls and it’s hard to put the ball away. It’s going to be a lot of long rallies. I think one of the things that helps us is that we have a hard time putting the ball away in practice because of defense on our white team. We’re accustomed to that. They have to do everything right to get a kill and that’s
On Texas A&M
“Down there, we lost a tight game. We just couldn’t regain it from there. Tonight, I was really impressed with Texas A&M in game one. They forced us to play our best game of the year. That was the highest level of volleyball we’ve played all year and they forced us to. I knew they were going to play great tonight. They feel like they’re in a must-win situation and they’re coming off a really tough loss. I was really impressed with they’re level of play. That was one of the best first games all year; Maybe the best.”