By NU Athletic Communications
Omaha – The defending national champion and top-ranked Nebraska volleyball team opened defense of its title in grand fashion, rolling to a 30-15, 30-19, 30-18 sweep of Tennessee in front of 10,158 fans at the AVCA Showcase Friday night at the Qwest Center.
The win was Nebraska’s 1,000th all-time victory, as the Huskers joined Saturday’s opponent UCLA and Missouri State as the only members of the 1,000-win club. The victory also improved Nebraska’s Qwest Center record to a perfect 8-0 as NU has dropped only three games in eight matches in the building.
The Huskers were dominant from the start and didn’t trail until the first point of game three and led by at least 12 points in every game. NU hit a solid .361 in the match, led by 14 kills on .417 hitting from 2006 AVCA National Player of the Year Sarah Pavan and 13 kills on .522 hitting from All-American Jordan Larson.
Christina Houghtelling made her regular-season debut in the match and finished just shy of a double-double, recording eight kills and a match-high 12 digs.
The Husker defense recorded 10 blocks while holding the Lady Vols to an .088 hitting percentage. UT hit lower each game and had three players hit negative. Farren Power paced the team with a solid night, recording nine kills on just 14 swings.
The defending national champion Huskers raced out of the gates to a quick 4-0 lead in game one, forcing an early Tennessee time out. Nebraska built a double-digit advantage at 14-4 after a pair of aces from Pavan. NU extended its lead to 23-9 before cruising to a 30-15 victory.
The Huskers hit a whopping .516 in game one, while limiting Tennessee to a .167 mark. Nebraska’s middles were especially effective in game one as Tracy Stalls and Kori Cooper combined for six kills on six swings. Pavan and Larson each added five kills.
Game two was much closer early on, as the teams were tied at 8-8. Nebraska began to take control as the match went on, building a 14-11 advantage before scoring eight consecutive points to take a commanding 22-11 lead.
The Huskers maintained a double-digit lead for much of the rest of the game before rolling to a 30-19 victory. Both teams hit worse in game two, as Tennessee hit just .062 while Nebraska managed a .233 percentage. The two teams combined for 16 attack errors, including 10 by the Lady Volunteers.
Tennessee scored the first point of game three to take its first lead of the match. The teams traded leads until a quick 4-0 spurt put Nebraska in front, 7-4, a lead it would never relinquish. The Huskers maintained a modest lead and enjoyed a 15-10 advantage at the media timeout.
NU continued to build its lead and forced a Tennessee timeout at 20-12. The Huskers increased their lead to a double-digit advantage at 23-13. Nebraska maintained a comfortable lead and coasted to a 30-18 victory.
With the win, Nebraska (1-0) advances to Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. championship match against UCLA, a 3-0 winner over Utah in Friday’s earlier game. Tennessee (0-1) and Utah will battle for third place at 6 p.m.