Huskers Fall in Front of NCAA Record Crowd
Ameritas Players Challenge All-Tournament Team
Lauren Cook, UCLA (MVP)
Kaitlin Sather, UCLA
Lainey Gera, UCLA
Brooke Delano, Nebraska
Sydney Anderson, Nebraska
Kayla Walker, BYU
Lauren Dickson, Virginia
Lincoln – Eighth-ranked UCLA stunned an NCAA record crowd of 13,870, ending fifth-ranked Nebraska’s 90-match home win streak with a 18-25, 25-17, 25-22, 24-26, 15-7 victory Sunday afternoon at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Bruins, who improved to 8-1 on the season, became the first team to defeat the Huskers on their home court since Florida A&M accomplished the feat in 2004, as Dicey McGraw totaled a match-high 18 kills for in the victory.
Tara Mueller paced Nebraska (7-2) with a team-best 17 kills and added 13 digs, while freshman Hannah Werth and Brooke Delano added 14 and 10 kills, respectively. Werth set personal bests in both kills and digs (23) to collect her first double-double as a Husker. Sydney Anderson 44 assists and 12 digs and Delano, who added four blocks, were Nebraska’s representatives on the all-tournament team.
Lauren Cook dished out 48 assists and added five kills and 15 digs to earned Tournament MVP honors, while she was joined by fellow Bruins Kaitlin Sather (13 kills and 16 digs) and libero Lainey Gera (25 digs), as UCLA out-hit NU, .213-.179, including a match-best .391 in the fifth set.
Sunday’s crowd of 13,870 broke the NCAA regular-season record crowd of 13,412 set last year between the Huskers and LSU, as Nebraska has now played in front of the eight largest crowds in NCAA history.
Nebraska fed off the emotion of the crowd early on, posting a 25-18 victory in the opening set. NU out-hit the Bruins .276-.069, as Delano had four kills and two blocks, while Lindsey Licht and Werth each had three kills on .600 hitting. The Huskers seized the momentum early on, winning six of the first seven rallies, as Werth’s second kill of a 5-0 spurt put the Huskers up 6-1 and forced an early Bruin timeout. Nebraska eventually pushed the lead to 13-4 after a Mueller kill before UCLA charged back. The Bruins ran off six straight points, pulling to within 13-10 after a Katie Camp kill before a Delano kill ended the run. UCLA got to within 18-15 before a ball-handling error and a kill by Werth put NU ahead 20-15 and forced the Bruins’ second timeout. UCLA made one last run, getting to within 20-17 after a Katie Camp block, but two kills from Delano and a pair of Bruin miscues gave the hosts a seven-point lead.
The Huskers were unable to keep the momentum in the second set, as UCLA jumped out to an early lead and pulled away for a 25-17 victory to even the match. Mueller had five kills while Licht added three kills on six swings for NU, but Amanda Gil and McGraw combined for 11 kills without an error as UCLA hit .297 in the set. After falling behind 5-1, Nebraska roared back, using a pair of 3-0 spurts to pull even at eight all after a UCLA error. Nebraska its first lead of the set at 10-9 lead after a Mueller kills and took a 12-11 lead after another Mueller kill, but the Bruins took advantage of a couple of hitting errors on a 6-1 spurt to take a 17-13 lead after a Gill kill. The Huskers closed to within 19-15 on Licht’s solo block, but could not pull any closer.
UCLA continued to show fight in the third set, overcoming a three-point deficit to take a 25-22 victory. McGraw came up big for the Bruins in the set with seven kills on .429 hitting, while Mueller played stellar volleyball for NU with seven kills on .412 hitting and nine digs in the set. The teams traded points the first 20 rallies until a Bruin service error and a Kayla Banwarth ace gave the Huskers a 12-10 lead. NU eventually pushed the margin to 15-12 at the media timeout, but UCLA regrouped from that point. McGraw had three of her kills in a decisive 9-2 spurt that gave UCLA a 21-17 lead and forced NU to take its second timeout. The Huskers clawed back, getting to within two points twice, the last being 24-22, but a kill from Bojana Todorovic put the Bruins up two sets to one.
In the fourth set, the Huskers turned up the defense and pulled out a 26-24 win. Jordan Wilberger totaled five of her seven blocks in the set, as the Nebraska held UCLA to .047 hitting, while Werth was the offensive star with six kills on .462 hitting and eight digs for the Big Red. After trailing 15-14 at the media timeout, a block from Wilberger and Licht triggered the Huskers to run off seven straight points. Wilberger totaled four blocks in the run, as NU took a 21-15 lead on a Mueller kill. UCLA would come right back, running off three straight points to get to within 21-18 and used another 3-0 run later in the set to tie the score at 23-all on a Husker error. Werth then gave NU a 24-23 lead with a kill before a Husker hitting error tied the score. Werth came up big once again, as he sixth kill of the set made it 25-24 before a UCLA hitting error sent the match to a decisive fifth set.
The visitors were nearly flawless in the finale, hitting .391 with only one hitting error. Todorovic and Camp, who combined for just 12 kills in the first four sets, totaled three kills apiece in the finale, while NU hit .042. UCLA jumped out to an early 5-2 lead and led 8-3 at the chance. NU made one last run, getting to within 10-6 after a Werth kill, but the Huskers would score just one more point the rest of the match.
The Huskers open Big 12 action on Wednesday night against Texas Tech. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com. The match will also be shown live in the state on NET and NET-HD.
UCLA Coach Andy Banachowski
“We did a great job of hanging in there after losing the first match and coming back the way we did. I think that our team did a good job of working through it. It helped us establish a presence on the court and enable us to play the way we did.”
On playing here vs. Hawaii in the opening weekend
“I think it’s a little louder here than it was against Hawaii. We had the experience of playing earlier in Hawaii.”
On UCLA’s improvement from the start of the season
“This is our third tournament and third set of lineups that we’ve tried. I think we’ve gotten better every weekend. We’ve progressed. I think we’re pretty solid at least in my mind as far as our lineup. Now we just have to get better.”
On snapping Nebraska’s home win streak
“It was nice to be in this environment and play this big of a match. I’m proud of how we were able to be in this match and come back and win it. What it means for us as we go on in the season is huge.”
Coach John Cook
“Well, the highlights were the crowd. I heard it was a record so that was awesome. It was an awesome environment and the Husker Nation deserves a huge pat on the back for coming out and supporting these teams and filling the Devaney Center. That really hasn’t sunk in yet, but what an accomplishment. Second thing is it was an up and down match for both teams. UCLA got the up in the fifth game, and I thought we went soft, so I was pretty disappointed in how we played tonight. We lost our composure a little bit and I think that’s a sign of our youth and inexperience. I think we’ll learn a lot more from this match than UCLA will. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.”
On the young players
“I think Lauren (Cook), as a freshman setter, did a fantastic job. I knew she was going to play great. I think their experience is in (Kaitlin) Sather. They have a senior out there in Dicey McGraw. Those guys have been through a whole season. It’s Sather’s fifth year, so I think those guys did a lot of good things. Their libero played great tonight. I think there was a little bit more experience and poise there. We lost our composure.”
On the similarities between this match and the Michigan match
“Similar because we just stopped playing together and we started running around. We have athletes and they start running around. But when you start running around out of control, our system breaks down. That’s what was so disappointing. We just became a very undisciplined team. That’s something we can fix and work on. That’s something these guys have to learn. The other part – just going soft. It’s all those little things that make great teams and we are not a great team yet. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride until we can figure out how to be a great team.”
On playing against his daughter
“When you’re out there with the crowd and the match has started, you’re just so focused I really didn’t even think about it. I did though yell to her ‘great play.’ It was game three I think when she went up and pushed it off the block out of bounds and the crowd kind of started booing. That was just a great play by her. It looked like we pushed it off her, but she won that and the refs had to talk about it. I yelled out there, ‘great play Lauren.’ I don’t care who makes that play, that is just a great play by a volleyball player. Other than that, I did notice she kept digging us a lot. That was frustrating.”
Outside Hitter Tara Mueller
On playing in front of the Devaney Center crowd today
“It’s amazing. It’s something that you really don’t know what it’s like unless you experience it. Just running out and just knowing that everyone is on your side, it’s really special. That’s only here. It’s really cool.”
On the pressure in playing in front of so many fans for the younger players
“I was a younger player one time and it’s really exciting, at least it was for me. It might make you a little nervous, it might give you the butterflies, but once you get into the game and once you get grooving with your team you don’t really notice it anymore.”
“We just didn’t put the pressure on UCLA right away and we didn’t come out aggressive. We were just making errors that we shouldn’t. That’s what happened.”
On Nebraska’s progress
“I don’t know if I would say it was a step backwards, but I think that like the Michigan match, there was at times a lack of trust and that’s what you were seeing and it was us not trusting ourselves at time. Not trusting each other all the way. Just that little bit of doubt will get you.”
On the home winning streak coming to an end
“It was tough. I think we just need to look at this as a learning experience and not get too upset over it. We know what we need to do and once we get into the Big 12 we need to start going back up and doing what we know what we need to do, play how we can play.