Huskers overcome the jitters then the Flyers.
Lincoln. — The No. 7 Nebraska Huskers prevailed with four-set win (24-26, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17) over the No. 20 Dayton Flyers on Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd at the NU Coliseum to kick off the 2010 Ameritas Players Challenge.
Tara Mueller was one of three Huskers to net a double-double, as the senior from Scottsdale, Ariz., netted 13 kills and 13 digs, while hitting .375 or better in three of the four sets, including .400 in set three. Hannah Werth added her third double-double of the season (11 kills and 14 digs), while Lauren Cook notched the first double-double of her Husker career with a team-high 28 assists and 10 digs. Kayla Banwarth continued to pilot the Nebraska defense with a match-high 24 digs, while adding three assists.
Mueller started set one on fire for the Huskers with three of Nebraska's first five points, while Banwarth served five consecutive points and Sydney Anderson chipped in four assists to fuel an 8-3 run to start the match for Nebraska, forcing Dayton to take a timeout.
The break would fail to stop the Husker momentum, as Nebraska continued to play solid offense and defense to build a 20-12 lead. Dayton then dug deep and put up a 10-2 run to tie the set at 22 apiece and force Head Coach John Cook to take a time out of his own. During the run, Dayton got an ace, at least one kill from three players and Nebraska committed four errors.
Following the timeout, a Jordan Wilberger kill regained the lead for Nebraska, but Becky Novacek answered for Dayton with back-to-back kills to put the Flyers up 24-23. Werth would again tie the set for Nebraska with a kill, but it was not enough as Dayton put away two straight kills to finish off a dramatic comeback and take set one, 26-24.
The Flyers continued to feed off their first-set momentum to open a 4-1 lead in set two, before Brooke Delano strung together two kills and Cook added an ace to even the score. The teams would split the next four points before Dayton put up a 4-0 run to take a 10-6 lead, resulting in a Nebraska timeout.
The Huskers responded out of the break with a 4-0 of their own to even the score, powered by two kills from Mueller and another from Wilberger, with Anderson assisting on all three. The two squads would split the next seven points, before an attack error from former Husker Jessica Yanz and a kill from Lindsey Licht would give Nebraska its first two-point lead of the set and force Dayton to take its first timeout.
The Flyers came back with a kill from Yvonne Martin, but Nebraska swung right back with three straight points from Licht, including two kills and a block, resulting in another quick timeout from Dayton Coach Kelly Sheffield. The stop in play did little to slow the Husker attack as the Werth continued to roll with an ace, while Mueller, Delano and Licht added consecutive kills to build a 22-14 lead, before a net violation on Nebraska ended the 7-0 run.
Just like set one, Dayton made a late run to get back in the set at 24-20, but a service error from Paige Vargas ended the Flyers' hopes of a second straight comeback and the Huskers took set two, 25-20, with Cook adding 10 assists in the set.
Nebraska took advantage of two Dayton errors and a block from Wilberger to start set three with a 3-0 lead, before the Flyers got on the board with a block from Lindsay Fletemier. After Dayton got back within one point at 4-3, Nebraska took eight of the next 11 points to take a 12-6 lead, with Mueller adding three kills over the run.
Dayton again responded to get within three points (13-10), but the comeback quickly ended with a 4-0 Nebraska run, capped by a solo stuff from Wilberger to extend the Nebraska lead to 17-10. Unlike the first two sets, the Flyers failed to make a late run, as the Huskers ran away with set three, 25-16. Mueller continued to power the Husker attack with four kills in the set.
For the second straight set the Huskers took an early lead, 5-2, behind two kills each from Licht and Delano, along with an ace from Anderson. Dayton responded with a 4-0 run to take the lead, but a 7-0 Nebraska run shut down the Flyers and created some separation at 12-6, as Mueller knocked in an ace, Delano added a kill and two blocks, while Dayton committed three errors during the run.
The two teams would exchange points until another Nebraska run extended the Husker lead to 18-10, with Gina Mancuso and Werth adding kills, while Wilberger stuffed another Flyer attack.
The Flyers attempted to make one final run on the night as they got within five at 21-17, but 4,180 fans at the Coliseum would fuel a 4-0 Husker run to end the set and push Nebraska to victory with a fourth set score of 25-17.
Nebraska will be back at the Coliseum tomorrow at 7 p.m. for the second day of the Ameritas Players Challenge to take on Western Michigan. The Huskers then conclude the tournament on Saturday night at 7 p.m. with a match against the No. 3 ranked Fighting Illini of Illinois at the Devaney Center.
Tomorrow's action will start with Illinois and Western Michigan at 11 a.m., followed by Illinois and Dayton at 4:30 p.m.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.