Top-ranked Nebraska finishes off No. 19 Wildcats 3-1 after scare
LINCOLN, Neb. -- No. 1 Nebraska survived a scare during the final match of the 2012 Ameritas Players Challenge as the Huskers outlasted the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22) on Saturday afternoon.
In front of 4,163 fans at the Coliseum, All-American Gina Mancuso led Nebraska with 17 kills on 35 swings for a hitting percentage of .400. Morgan Broekhuis followed her lead with 15 kills on 36 swings for a .306 hitting percentage. Lauren Cook tabbed 43 assists for the Huskers and led NU defensively with 13 digs.
The Huskers hit .315 for the match, holding Kentucky to a .266 hitting percentage. Nebraska posted 13.5 team blocks and 40 team digs, as UK had 45 team digs.
The Huskers and Wildcats came out fighting in the first set as Kentucky took a 5-3 lead on a Nebraska error. Back-to-back kills from Morgan Broekhuis put Nebraska within one at 11-10, before a hitting error by the Wildcats tied the match at 11-11 and a resounding kill by Mancuso put NU up 12-11 and forced Kentucky to call a timeout. A kill by Werth gave Nebraska a 16-13 lead, before a service ace from Broekhuis put NU up 18-15. Meghan Haggerty recorded a kill, helping Nebraska take a 23-17 lead as the Huskers went on to win the first set 25-19.
Broekhuis led Nebraska in the first set with seven kills, while Mancuso had four. Cook tabbed 11 assists, as Hannah Werth led NU with four digs. The Huskers hit .483 for the set, while Kentucky hit. 312.
Kentucky took a 4-3 lead early in the second set on a service error by Nebraska. Werth posted a service ace, giving Nebraska a 7-6 lead before the two teams tied the set at 10-10. Hayley Thramer teamed up with three different Huskers for three double-stuff blocks, helping Nebraska to a 15-12 lead. Another ace by Werth put the Huskers up 20-16. The Wildcats posted three consecutive points to tie the set at 21-21, as the two teams tied it up against 23-23, but Kentucky would come out as the team ahead, taking a 25-23, second set win.
Broekhuis led Nebraska again in the second set with four kills, while Mancuso had three. The Huskers were held to a .074 hitting percentage for the set, while NU was out-blocked 6-3 by Kentucky. The Wildcats hit .250 for the set and out-dug Nebraska 9-7.
The Wildcats took the lead in the third set before a service ace by Broekhuis tied the set at 5-5. The Huskers and Wildcats traded points until Kentucky took an 18-16 lead on Nebraska. The Huskers mustered a comeback, tying the set at 19-19 on a kill by Haggerty. She would come up big for the Huskers again, with a punctuating kill to tie the set at 21-21. The Huskers would prevail behind a raucous Coliseum crowd to take the third set 25-22 on a kill by Broekhuis.
Both Mancuso and Haggerty had five kills for the Huskers in the third set, while Thramer notched four. Cook tallied 12 assists, guiding the Huskers to a .405 hitting percentage. Kentucky hit .406 for the set and out-blocked NU 15-12.
Kentucky came out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth set, but an error by the Wildcats and a solo block by Werth would give Nebraska a 6-5 lead. Nebraska went up 14-11 on another error by Kentucky before the two teams tied the set at 17-17. A kill by Mancuso led Nebraska to a 21-18 lead in the middle of a Husker rally that ended with Nebraska taking the fourth set 25-22.
Mancuso had five kills for the Huskers in the fourth set, while Werth notched four kills. Cook tabbed 13 assists, as the Huskers hit .265 for the set. Nebraska out-blocked Kentucky 6-3 and out-dug the Wildcats 15-12 in the set.