Aug. 30, 2009

Courtesy of Nebraska

Omaha, Neb. - Sophomore Brooke Delano totaled a career-high 14 kills and her final kill of the night capped a 5-0 match-ending run, as the third-ranked Nebraska volleyball team held on for a thrilling five-set victory over No. 11 Minnesota on Saturday night in front of 5,989 fans at Qwest Center Omaha in the final match of the 2009 Runza/AVCA Showcase.

Nebraska (1-1) won the first set 25-20, before Minnesota (1-1) used a decisive 9-1 run to come back and take the second set 25-21. The Huskers controlled the third set, winning 25-19 before Minnesota cruised to a 25-15 victory in the fourth set to force the deciding fifth set. Nebraska never trailed in the fifth set and the Huskers won the final five rallies to claim a 15-8 win on Delano's final kill.

Delano doubled her previous career high of seven kills set last season at Kansas State. The Bellevue, Neb., native hit .400 on the night while also adding a career-high five blocks. Tara Mueller paced Nebraska with a match-high 17 kills, while adding 16 digs for her first double-double of the season. Sydney Anderson dished out 46 assists and added 11 digs, while Kayla Banwarth also enjoyed a career night, finishing with a career-best 32 digs from the libero position.

Brook Dieter led Minnesota with 12 kills, while Lauren Gibbemeyer added 10 kills on .304 hitting. The Gophers struggled offensively, hitting just .110 on the night while hitting .100 or below in three of the five sets, including .000 in the final set. Minnesota made up for it with strong play at the net, as the Gophers totaled 16 blocks to Nebraska's 10.

Mueller got Nebraska off to a terrific start in set one, as the junior All-American had six kills in the first 18 rallies of the match while totaling eight kills on 10 errorless swings. Gibbemeyer kept Minnesota within striking distance with four early blocks - including two solo stuffs - and four kills. After Nebraska built a three-point lead at 13-10, consecutive Husker hitting errors trimmed the lead to one before back-to-back Delano kills quickly stretched the lead back to three at 17-14. A key block put the Huskers on top 22-19 and fueled a 5-1 set-ending run. Banwarth followed with an ace and two more Delano kills gave Nebraska set point, where Gina Mancuso ended a long rally with a kill. Nebraska recorded 10 more kills than Minnesota in the set, but the Huskers had seven more hitting errors thanks to six Gopher blocks.

Set two featured runs by both teams. The Huskers scored the first three points of set two but Minnesota quickly fought back to tie the match at 4-4. NU came right back with another run of three consecutive points and led 10-6 on Mueller's 10th kill of the match. Another Mueller kill followed by a Minnesota error stretched NU's lead to 12-7 before the Gophers stormed back. Four Minnesota blocks and six Husker hitting errors fueled a 9-1 run that put the Gophers in front for good at 16-13. A Mancuso kill finally ended the run, but Minnesota kept up the momentum with consecutive kills to stretch the lead to four. Three straight NU points trimmed the lead to 19-18, and the Huskers would get within one once more before Dieter close out the 25-21 victory with a kill. Minnesota continued its strong play at the net in the second set, finishing with six more blocks as both the Gophers (.093) and Huskers ! (.068) hit under .100.

Neither team led by more than one in the third set until a Megan Pendergast ace sparked three straight Nebraska points gave the Huskers a 7-5 lead. Jordan Wilberger sparked the Huskers to a 5-0 run midway with two kills as the Huskers stretched their lead to 17-9. Minnesota responded by winning four of the next five rallies but back-to-back kills from Delano forced a Gopher timeout with NU on top, 21-14. The Huskers closed out the 25-19 victory on Wilberger's fourth kill of the set. Wilberger was perfect on all four of her swings, while Delano added five kills as Nebraska out-hit Minnesota .293 to .171 while totaling six more kills.

The Huskers scored the first three points of the fourth set and continued to lead until Minnesota used a 7-2 run to take a 10-8 lead. After a Minnesota hitting error, the Gophers ran off six straight points to take a commanding 16-9 lead. While losing 13 of 16 rallies, Nebraska committed eight errors. The Huskers would pull to within three at 18-15 but three consecutive hitting errors pushed the lead back to six, as the Gophers scored the final seven points of the set to earn a 25-15 win. A strong Minnesota defense held Nebraska to -.103 hitting, as the Huskers had only five kills compared to nine errors.

In the fifth and deciding set, a Mueller kill and back-to-back blocks gave Nebraska a 3-0 lead before back-to-back Husker errors made the score 3-2. Minnesota pulled even at 4-4 before NU scored three straight points again. Nebraska led 8-6 at the switch and scored two straight points after the break to force Minnesota into a time out with the crowd roaring. The Gophers answered a 3-1 run with two Dieter kills before an Anderson dump gave NU an 11-8 lead. Delano followed with her 13th kill of the night before Anderson and Delano teamed up on a double-block to put the Huskers in front 13-8. A Mancuso ace gave NU its first match point, where Delano promptly capped a match-ending 5-0 run with a thunderous kill.

2009 Runza/AVCA Showcase All-Tournament Team Sydney Anderson, Nebraska Brooke Delano, Nebraska Alex Hunt, Michigan Juliana Paz, Michigan Lexi Zimmerman, Michigan Taylor Carico, Minnesota Lauren Gibbemeyer, Minnesota Kelsey Chipman, Kansas State

Minnesota Quotes

Coach Mike Hebert
Opening Statement
"For the first weekend I was pleased with an awful lot of things that we did. I think, as Nebraska is, we're a team in search of our identity, with so many new people to blend in. Obviously passing was our downfall throughout the weekend. And if we don't get that straightened out we're going to have a little bit of a rocky time at this level."

On Nebraska tonight
"Sometimes a program that has won as much as Nebraska is able to do things because it's in the pores of the wood. The winning, the confidence, the knowledge that you know you can win. We are just a step short of that. We haven't had enough of that, but a match like this is pushing us down the right path."

On playing five sets in back-to-back nights "What we learned in 10 sets is invaluable to us. We'll dissect it all and by tomorrow when we head out to Washington D.C., I think the dust will have settled from a tiring tournament for us, and we'll be able to talk with each other about what we need to do to be in a match like this and not make the same mistakes again."

On the difference for Nebraska over Friday night "I thought it was night and day. I wasn't in the match last night, but it looked to me that there was some demoralization that had set in on the Nebraska side of the net. I didn't see that tonight. There were moments, but they recovered quickly. Whether it was because we made mistakes or because they found it within themselves to will themselves back to a higher level, I don't know, but clearly that happened."

Nebraska Quotes

Coach John Cook
Opening Statement
"I thought it was a great match. I think Coach Hebert would say the same thing. You hope you get in matches like this at this time of the year. It really builds a lot of character and brings your team together. It teaches your team to compete together and what they have to do to be successful. Of course, for us to win it, I think is a major step for this team compared to how we played last night. This team could have really tanked it today as well. I tell you what, we still had a hangover from last night. We're really proud of how they competed. Even though it was an ugly match at times, we had a great 'next play' mentality."

On trying new schemes tonight
"We were about out of stuff to try. That was one thing; we have some players we can bring in. I thought Jess (Yanz), Allison (McNeal) and Jordan (Wilberger) really made a difference in the match. It's helpful, especially in a long match like that. Jordan got some big kills for us. Our outsides were having trouble putting the ball away against Minnesota. Part of that is because Gina (Mancuso) and Hannah (Werth) are freshman, Tara (Mueller) was on fire for a little bit, but she was starting to run out of gas. We had to run middle and Jordan did a great job. She got some big kills. I think she got a huge block on a back-row attack they had. Every time she comes in there she makes things happen. You can see the team loves having her out there."

On if the team was more mature tonight
"I don't know if it is maturity. I think they don't want to feel like they did last night; you never want to feel that as an athlete. I saw a little bit of that lingering today so I was worried. I think they relaxed and competed tonight. That was the big thing; we challenged our older players to step up. Brooke (Delano) did a great job of stepping up and making some big plays. I thought Kayla (Banwarth) was spectacular tonight. Last night Kayla was out of control, but she was awesome tonight."