Oct. 22, 2009

Courtesy of Iowa State Athletics

LINCOLN, Neb. – It took 33 years and 76 tries but the 14th-ranked Iowa State volleyball team can finally say it beat Nebraska.

The Cyclones (16-3, 8-2 Big 12) snapped the streak Wednesday at NU Coliseum, beating the No. 5 Huskers (14-5, 7-3), 3-2 (18-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12), to snap a 75-match skid against the conference foe and gain sole possession of second place in the Big 12. The win also marks the highest for the Cyclones over a ranked opponent.

“Well, we said we’re 1-75 now. It’s a huge milestone for our program," ISU head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. "I always do get real excited about things like this, but I try not to think it’s everything. We’ve had kind of a checklist and milestones along the way for getting to the tournament, getting to the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, getting ranked, and we felt like this was one thing we hadn’t achieved yet was defeating Nebraska. That alone is exciting. I’m excited about the team coming into this environment and winning. Not a lot of teams do that. I’m excited for the team and excited for the program because it’s an important win and one that we’ll remember for a long, long time.”

After battling back from losing the first and third sets, ISU earned a 15-12 win in the fifth.

In the decisive fifth set, ISU had five blocks and held off a Nebraska squad that has won 93 of its last 95 matches at the Coliseum. The win marked the first time this season that the Cyclones have won after dropping the opening set.

The Cyclones led 4-2 in the fifth before Nebraska scored four in a row to go up 6-4. Debbie Stadick then came up with a kill and a solo block to tie it at 6-6. After the teams traded points, ISU gained its separation with three straight. The Huskers would close to 11-9, but Victoria Henson blasted a kill and Kaylee Manns served up her second ace of the night, making it 13-9 Cyclones.

Nebraska had one last rush, closing the gap to 14-12. The match ended and the celebration began with Rachel Hockaday and Nebraska native Jamie Straube teaming up to block Lindsey Licht.

The Cyclones were led in the match by the sophomore Hockaday, who tied a season-high with 18 kills. Manns added 52 assists and 21 digs for her 60th career double-double. Henson and Straube were also in double-figures with 14 and 11 kills, respectively.

Ashley Mass had a match-high 25 digs to lead five Cyclones in double-figures. ISU held a 16-10 edge in blocking, led by Stadick’s three solo stuffs and four block assists. Straube, a freshman from Tecumseh, Neb., tied a career-high with eight block assists.

In the opening set, Nebraska used a 7-1 run to erase a two-point Cyclone lead and go up 13-9. The Huskers hit .357 and held ISU to a .073 hitting percentage. Nebraska pushed its lead to seven at 19-12, but the Cyclones closed the gap to three at 20-17 before NU finished it out on a 5-1 run to win 25-18.

Iowa State turned it up defensively and took advantage of a sluggish Nebraska attack in the second set to win 25-19 and knot it up at 1-1 heading into the break. The Cyclones forced the Huskers into a -.043 hitting percentage in the frame, notching three blocks in the set and getting numerous touches to make things easier for the back row players.

ISU jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead in the second, but Nebraska came back and the teams went back-and-forth until ISU scored four in a row to go up 17-13 on a kill from Stadick. The Cyclones were able to fend off Nebraska, which closed to 18-17 following a Mueller kill. ISU closed the set on a 7-2 run to go into the intermission tied 1-1 for the second-straight year at the NU Coliseum.

The Cyclones kept the Huskers off balance in the third set, going up 17-13 before the Huskers used a 12-6 run to end the set and win 25-23. With Nebraska leading 24-22, Banwarth served into the net to get the Cyclones within one. Nebraska used a timeout and Caitlin Mahoney’s jump serve went into the net to put the Huskers up 2-1.

The Cyclones were able to force a fifth set with a 25-21 win in the fourth. The teams stayed within two until back-to-back kills by Henson made it 23-20 Iowa State. The Cyclones blistered it at a .447 clip in the set, committing just one attack error.

The Huskers had four players in double-figures and were led by Kori Cooper’s 16 kills.

Iowa State returns to action Saturday when it plays host to Texas Tech in its annual Dig Pink match at Hilton Coliseum. First serve is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.