LINCOLN, Neb. - In front of 4,193 people, the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers upset the nations top team, the No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions on Sunday.
The first set was completely dominated by the Penn State attack. The three-headed monster of Katie Slay, Megan Courtney and Deja McClendon over powered the Huskers from the start, taking the first set, 25-12. Towards the end of the set, Huskers Morgan Broekhuis, Paige Hubl and Hannah Werth were all benched, being replaced by three freshmen, Meghan Haggerty, Alexa Strange and Kelsey Fien. John Cook’s squad hit -.103 in the set.
“I knew we couldn’t play any worse, I knew it had to get better,” said Cook.
The second set was one of frustration, excitement, and anger for fans of both teams. It looked like the Nittany Lions were on their way to another huge set win, that was until the Huskers went on a 10-2 run to tie it up at 20. That set was back and forth all the way going up into the thirties before Nebraska would finally get the 32-30 set win. After a first set that included zero kills from Werth, she bounced back with seven kills. Haggerty and Broekhuis combined for nine kills in the second set.
The third set, similar to the first belonged to the Nittany Lions. Nebraska would put together a small rally but the team of Ariel Scott and Deja McClendon couldn’t be contained, combining for twenty-three kills through three sets, the duo upfront could not be matched. Penn State would take the third set, 25-19.
Back and forth was not only a way to describe this set, but the match. In the fourth set neither team was able to break away, bringing it down to the wire again. A kill by Haggerty would give Nebraska the 25-23 set win. Penn State had four players with double-digit kills, while the Huskers had three by the fifth set.
“She (Meghan Haggerty) not only did she have good kills, she had a couple of big blocks too,” said Cook. “For a freshmen, that was a heck of a play.”
The fifth set was all Nebraska, despite a slow start. Falling down 2-0, the tide turned after a kill and the Huskers would never look back. Werth, who had been benched in the first set, and Gina Mancuso played huge for the Huskers dominating the Penn State block. A service error by the Nittany Lions would give the Huskers the 15-10 victory.
“You have got to go through these matches, this is how you develop confidence and toughness,” said Cook.