COLLEGE STATION, Texas- No. 1-ranked Nebraska posted its nation-leading 20th consecutive victory by topping A&M, 30-14, 30-20, 30-25, in front of 4,113 at Nebraska Coliseum.
The defending national champion Huskers, who boast five All-Americans in their starting lineup, improve to 10-0 overall, including 3-0 in the Big 12. A&M drops to 11-3, 1-3 in Big 12, and remains winless in 15 trips to Lincoln.
Nebraska jumped out to a quick lead to begin the match, scoring the first six points before a kill by A&M’s Jillian Phillips put the Aggies on the board. The Huskers hit .424 and held A&M to a .029 hitting efficiency in the game as they continued to extend their lead. Ahead 26-13, Nebraska scored three consecutive points to be serving for the game. A&M setter Kristen Schevikhoven ended the run with a dump for a kill, but then A&M served wide to give the Huskers the game-winning point.
A&M stayed within seven points at 21-14 in Game 2 when the Aggies went on a four-point run to cut the gap to 21-18. Jordan Larson answered with back-to-back kills for the Huskers, marking the start of a 6-1 run for Nebraska. A Husker service error made the score, 27-20, but then Nebraska closed out the game with a three-point burst, with Rachel Schwartz serving an ace to cap the game.
The Huskers hit .400 in the stanza, while A&M upped its hitting percentage to .219 in the game.
“After a slow start I thought we made some significant progress in Game 2, just making some adjustments that we needed to do against their pretty dynamic attack,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “Once we settled down and did that, Game 3 was more the kind of volleyball that we can really play, so we felt better about Game 3 than any others; just from an execution standpoint and being more intense.”
Darla Donaldson sparked the Aggies in Game 3, starting the game as a right-side hitter rather than coming off the bench to substitute for a middle blocker. The junior transfer had five kills in a game that saw the Aggies build a 17-11 lead. The Huskers cut away at the lead and tied the score at 22 after 2005 AVCA Player of the Year Christina Houghtelling put down an A&M overpass for a kill. Donaldson posted a kill to keep the Aggies in the lead, but A&M then served into the net and had an attack sail long to give the Huskers their first lead since scoring the first point of the game.
Sarah Ammerman posted her A&M-leading eighth kill of the game to tie the score for the final time. The Huskers, who outhit A&M .255 to .130 in the frame, used a 6-1 run to close out the game and the match.
“Darla provided a nice spark and had some big swings,” Corbelli said. “She is a very aggressive attacker. We’ve been looking for the right spot for her, and I think she is versatile enough to be used in the middle at times. We are excited that we have her and we’ve decided that we need to start using her a lot more. She also is one of our better blockers, so she’ll definitely be seeing the court a whole lot more.”
Jordan Larson led the Huskers with 15 kills, and Sarah Pavan and Houghtelling added 12 and 11 kills, respectively, as Nebraska posted 56 total kills to A&M’s 56 and outhit the Aggies, .350 to .124.
Schwartz led Nebraska in digs with 16, while Ammerman led A&M with 10.
“We have to take the things that we did well against a top-ranked team and use it to our advantage, for our confidence and to propel us into next week,” Corbelli said. “We’re not down at all. We are excited about our progress of our young players especially, and we are ready to get back into the gym.”
The Aggies conclude a two-match road swing Wednesday as they take on the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas. First serve is at 6:30 p.m. at the Ferrell Center.