Nebraska volleyball player Gina Mancuso knows how respected she is in front of an NU Coliseum crowd.
The senior sees it each practice when she walks into the Coliseum and sees her name listed under Nebraska’s All-Americans. She also hears the love each home match when the crowd chants “choo choo” after each powering serve or kill.
However, Nebraska isn’t the only place Mancuso’s superb play is being admired.
In the No. 4 Huskers (13-2, Big Ten 5-1) match against No. 12 Purdue (13-4, 4-2) Friday, the NU players had a hard time hearing their coach in its huddles over the Boilermakers’ 2,939 fans.
But John Baylor, NU’s radio play-by-play man, specifically remembers a sentence heard from the home team’s crowd Friday night.
“Between sets two and three I overheard one of the fans for Purdue saying ‘boy that Mancuso … she’s just too good,” Baylor said.
The praise from the opposing fan only assisted Mancuso to an outstanding performance as she finished with a match-high of 14 kills and 10 digs.
The superb play above the loud crowd left her coach impressed all night.
“They crowd was all over them and they did a great job with their composure and playing Husker volleyball,” NU coach John Cook said. “(Mancuso) got some big kills for us and played a solid all-around game.”
The Omaha native went 14-for-29 and knocked for a .379 hitting percentage, making it the fourth straight match the senior has hit successfully over .300. Mancuso’s illustrious performance assisted the Huskers to a .361 team-hitting percentage.
After going winless against the Boilermakers on the road last season, sweeping their conference opponent this season at Holloway Gymnasium made the victory that much sweeter, Mancuso said.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” she said. “And we really just need to have that next point mentality and just stake each play at a time.”
But it wasn’t just her prolific kills that left Cook delighted with her performance.
“I think the thing that impressed me the most was her serving,” the coach said. “She gave them fits with her serve all night.”
After a kill by Purdue tied the match at 10-10 in the first, Mancuso nailed her first service ace of the night to put the Huskers up 15-13. The clutch serve and five kills aided the Cornhuskers to a 25-23.
The senior would go on to add five more kills and a couple more aces to help the Husker prevail in set two and win 25-16.
“Her serving gave us a lot of momentum in games one and two,” Cook said. “She gave us some big runs and I think that might have been her best skill tonight.”
The senior continued to impress with her skills in their next match too.
On the following night, the Huskers traveled two and a half hours to face another conference foe in Indiana.
The Hoosiers provided challenges for NU defensively all night, however, their attacks didn’t seem to intimidate Mancuso’s game one bit.
The senior matched her stats from the night before, nailing 14 kills and 10 digs against IU, making it her second straight double-double. The 3-2 comeback victory aided Nebraska to their fifth consecutive win.
“We’ve really had a chip on our shoulders and along with our unfinished business, we especially had some here,” she said.
The Huskers will try to continue their five-game conference win streak when they come back home to face the Wisconsin Badgers this Friday at 7 p.m.