No. 1 Huskers Advance to Sweet 16
Melissa Elmer now holds numerous Husker records
Melissa Elmer now holds numerous Husker records

Posted Dec 4, 2005


Lincoln – Behind a match-high 10 blocks from senior All-American Melissa Elmer, top-ranked Nebraska rolled into the Sweet 16 for the 12th straight year with a 30-19, 30-19, 30-20 victory over Duke Saturday evening in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,076 at the NU Coliseum.

One night after becoming the Big 12's all-time leader in blocks, Elmer totaled 12 blocks in the first and second rounds, breaking the single-season school record held by Amber Holmquist, who had 220 blocks in NU’s 2000 national title season. Elmer now has 223 blocks, holding both the Big 12 and school single-season record in the process.

Elmer’s 10 stuffs helped the Huskers hold Duke to a season-low .043 hitting, as Nebraska improved to 30-1 on the season. The 30 wins marks the 17th time the program has reached the 30-win plateau and the fifth in six years under Head Coach John Cook. The win snapped Duke's nine-match winning streak and closed out the Blue Devils' season with a 24-8 overall record.

Nebraska will now meet the winner of Saturday’s match between UCLA and San Diego Friday evening at the Qwest Center in Omaha, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday’s first matchup in Omaha will feature Florida and Louisville, which will take place at 5 p.m. Over 11,500 tickets have already been pre-sold for next weekend’s regional, making it one of the largest postseason volleyball crowds in NCAA history.

While Elmer paced NU’s sterling defensive effort against the Blue Devils, junior Christina Houghtelling and sophomore Sarah Pavan both totaled a match-high 12 kills to led the Husker offense. Pavan also had six blocks and two of NU’s service aces, while freshman Jordan Larson has nine kills, four blocks and a pair of aces in the win.

Nebraska used a strong offensive effort to take the opener 30-19. Senior Jennifer Saleaumua had five kills on nine swings, while Houghtelling had five kills on .500 hitting, as NU out-hit the Blue Devils, .378-.154. The Huskers took control early, using a 5-0 run, including four straight points off the serve of junior Dani Busboom, to take a 9-4 lead after a block by Pavan and Houghtelling.  Duke pulled to within 12-8, but could get no closer, as the Huskers scored eight of the next 10 points to build a commanding 20-10 advantage and cruise to a 11-point win.

Nebraska’s defense took charge in game two, as the Huskers took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after another 30-19 win. NU held Duke to -.028 hitting, as Elmer and Saleaumua combined for four of the Huskers' six team blocks. Offensively, Houghtelling continued her hot hand, hitting .571 on four kills, while Pavan led the hosts with six kills on 10 swings. NU trailed 8-7 before using the serve of sophomore Maggie Griffin to run off six straight points and take a 13-8 advantage. Duke pulled to within 14-10, but Elmer led a 5-0 spurt with three blocks in helping NU take a 19-10 lead, an advantage it would not relinquish.

Larson’s five kills on 10 swings and two blocks helped Nebraska close the match with a 30-20 victory in the finale. Once again, NU used a strong defensive performance, holding the Blue Devils to .000 hitting. Nebraska scored five unanswered points to take an early 8-3 lead after a block by Elmer and Pavan. After Duke pulled to within 10-6, Pavan started a 7-0 run with a kill and then served six straight points in helping NU build an 17-6 lead. Duke trimmed the Husker lead to 25-20 after a junior Tealle Hunkas kill, but the Huskers closed out the match and an undefeated home season with five straight points.

Hunkus led the team with 10 kills, as Nebraska held the Blue Devils to season-low .043 hitting percentage. Entering today’s match, Duke had been held to under 20 points only six times in 118 games. The Huskers held the Blue Devils to just 19 points in the first two games, marking the first time Duke was held below 20 points in more than one game of any match this season.

BOX SCORE


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