Husker volleyball falls to Golden Gophers, tops Badgers

By Nedu Izu on November 19th, 2012

Another road trip, another subpar outcome.

In its two matches Friday and Sunday, the Nebraska volleyball team began with a 3-2 loss to No. 14 Minnesota (12-25, 25-15, 25-22, 19-25, 21-19) and concluded with a 3-0 win against Wisconsin (25-17, 25-20, 25-18).

The loss Friday was its first to the Gophers since 1980 and the sixth defeat of the season for the No. 9 Huskers (21-6, 13-5 Big Ten).

The Huskers first set was far from the start the team was hoping for as well.

The Gophers coasted to a 25-12 first set victory hitting a blistering .520 hitting percentage.

Although NU hit just a .080 hitting percentage to begin the match, the offense began to heat up in the next two sets.

Behind seniors Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth’s four kills each, the Huskers swung for a .400 hitting percentage, helping them to a 25-15 win in set two. And the NU attackers continued its hot swinging in the third set.

Mancuso would go on to add four more kills, while junior Morgan Broekhuis and Werth recorded three each to edge out a 25-22 third set victory and takeover the match with a 2-1 lead.

However, the home team would be the ones to finish the rest of the match on top.

After tying the match with a 25-19 victory in the fourth set, the Gophers regained momentum and took down the Huskers in a hard-hitting fifth set 21-19.

After losing its last two matches, Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said he was thrilled to see his team escape with a win against its conference opponent.

“Even though we got into some holes we were able to dig ourselves out,” he said. “And that’s really important for us at this stage in the season to be able to do that and have the chance to win.”

Mancuso finished the match swinging for a team-high .361 hitting percentage and 18 kills, but the team finished with .263.

However, the team turned things around in its next game.

Two days after suffering its fifth conference loss, the Huskers traveled to Madison, Wisc., to face the Badgers. This match would be all Nebraska.

The Badgers seemed to be no match for the Huskers as NU attackers came out of the gates swinging with a .412 hitting percentage. Behind four kills each notched by Broekhuis and Meghan Haggerty, Nebraska came out of the first set with a 25-17 win.

The offensive explosion trickled into the next two sets.

According to Wisconsin coach Pete Waite, his player’s aggressiveness didn’t amount to Nebraska’s the rest of the match.

“Nebraska is a good team,” he said. “I think today we definitely needed better production out of our left sides so we just didn’t really get to a spot where we were able to finish things off, especially in the second (set).”

Lauren Cook’s 11 assists and Werth’s five kills led to a 25-20 second set victory and helped Nebraska leap to a 2-0 lead in the match.

Unlike the Minnesota game, the Huskers wouldn’t give up its lead this time.

Werth’s leadership play only improved with each set as she nailed seven kills in the third set to put away the Badgers 25-18. The senior finished the match with 15 kills and eight digs, while Mancuso, Cook and sophomore Lara Dykstra all tied for a team-high 10 digs each.

After its last road matches of the season, the Huskers will come home for its final matches of the regular season to host Iowa on Wednesday and Northwestern on Saturday.

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