Volleyball falls to No. 1 Nebraska, 3-0
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Despite a late game-three surge the eight-ranked Texas Volleyball team could not keep up with top-ranked Nebraska, Saturday night, falling 3-0 (30- 22, 30-27, 30-25) in front of a crowd of 4,098 at Nebraska Coliseum.
"Tonight we did not execute, especially in the clutch," head coach Jerritt Elliott commented. "Nebraska is a national championship caliber team and you have to be hitting on all cylinders to compete with a team with that kind of talent."
Texas (21-6, 16-4 Big 12) opened game one with two consecutive points including a kill by Hooker. The Horns held the lead until a Sarah Pavan kill gave the Huskers their first lead at the 5-4 mark. Nebraska pushed its lead to two with a 3-0 run, but UT responded with its own 3-0 run, paced by two Michelle Moriarty kills and a NU error that moved the tally to 12-10. The Huskers responded, going on a game-changing 11-0 run, highlighted by a pair of kills and an ace by sophomore outside hitter Jordan Larson that pushed the Nebraska lead to 22-13.
A kill by Dariam Acevedo ended the Huskers rally, but a Pavan kill and a UT error followed, moving the NU lead to 10 at 24-14. Texas answered with a 3-0 run that included two kills by Hooker, narrowing the margin to 24-17. However, the strong Huskers attack proved to be too much down the stretch, as NU used a 4-2 run, headlined by Pavan's seventh game-one kill to take the first frame, 30-22.
The Horns fell behind 2-0 to start game one, but an Acevedo kill and a Huskers error helped Texas even the score at four apiece. Nebraska then went on a 5-1 run, grabbing a 12-8 lead on a Jordan Larson kill, but Texas did not give in, piecing together an 11-2 run of its own. Senior middle blocker Jennifer Todd tallied two kills and a block assist during the run to help the Horns claim a 19-14 advantage.
Nebraska immediately answered the Texas rally with a 6-1 run of its own using two kills by Larson and a pair of points by Tracy Stalls to knot the game at 20-20. Texas regained the lead, 21-20 on a Todd, Hooker block assist, but three straight NU points gave the Huskers a 23-21 edge. Hooker and the Horns did respond with a 3-0 run, to take a 24-23 lead on the freshman's second kill of the run. The Huskers quickly rallied, rattling off seven of the next 10 points and clinching the game, 30-27 on a kill by Stalls.
Hooker took over early in the third stanza, hammering out three kills and collecting her first career service ace in the first five points, knotting the game at 5-5. On its next point UT took a 6-5 lead, but the lead would prove to be short lived, as NU reclaimed the advantage at the 8-7 mark. Texas fought back to even the game at 11-11 on a Hooker kill, a part of a 6-1 UT run that moved the Horns advantage to 15-12. The Huskers promptly answered with a 6-1 run of its own, taking an 18-16 lead on a block assist by Rachel Holloway and Stalls.
Midway through the final game, Engle caught fire for the Horns, connecting for four kills in an ace, as the Horns rallied late in game three. A back-to-back ace and kill by Engle tied the game at 18-18, however, that would be as close as Texas would get. The Longhorns kept the margin at two down the stretch, and an Engle kill kept UT within two at the 27-25 mark. Nebraska followed Engle's kill with a 3-0 run, including two Larson kills that finished off the game, 30-25.
"We did not match Nebraska's level of emotion tonight," Elliott said. "However, tonight's match can be an important learning tool for us as we prepare for the postseason."
Hooker led the Horns on the night with 13 kills on 33 swings, posting six kills on .400 hitting in the final game. Engle joined her in double figures with 11 kills, five of which she recorded in game three. Moriarty registered her 16th assist/dig double/double of the season, tallying 32 assists and 13 digs in the loss, while junior libero Alyson Jennings matched her dig total for the team lead.
Texas will learn its NCAA Tournament fate Sunday, Nov. 26 at 2 p.m., when ESPNNews announces the 64-team championship field.