No. 1 Huskers Block No. 12 Buckeyes, 3-0

No. 1 Huskers Block No. 12 Buckeyes, 3-0

Behind a career-high 12 blocks from All-American Sarah Pavan, No. 1 Nebraska improved to 3-0 on the season with a dominant 30-15, 30-19, 30-17 sweep of No. 12 Ohio State Friday evening.

Sarah Pavan, who easily topped her career high of nine blocks against Texas last November, totaled 12 blocks, the highest blocking total by a Husker in the last two seasons, helping NU hold a commanding 15.5-3 advantage in that category. She also added nine kills, three aces and five digs in the win.

Fellow All-American Melissa Elmer chipped in a season-high 11 blocks and eight kills, as NU held OSU, which ranked third nationally in team hitting in 2004, to just .091 hitting, including .000 in both the first and third games.

"I thought we came out and really jumped on Ohio State with our serving and blocking," Nebraska Head Coach John Cook said. "We took them out of any rhythm they might have had and made them play on the defensive the rest of the night. We were very low error tonight, and I thought we attacked with our serve very well. OSU is a rhythm-in-system team, and we took them out of their rhythm. They struggled against their block."

The Huskers (3-0) also shined at the service line with nine service aces, including three each by Pavan, Christina Houghtelling and freshman Jordan Larson, as NU posted its third straight sweep over a ranked opponent.

Houghtelling led a balanced Husker attack with 10 kills on .625 hitting, as no Husker had more than 20 swings. NU hit .427 as a team, the highest mark since hitting .433 against Western Michigan in 2004.

All-American Jennifer Saleaumua also etched her name in the Husker record books, as she totaled five kills to go over 1,000 in her career. The senior outside hitter joins Eileen Shannon (1,521 dills and 1,074 digs from 1989 to 1992), as the only players to record both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs during their Husker careers.

The Huskers' dominant block took control of the opener, as Nebraska rolled to a 30-15 victory. NU hit .429 in game one, while holding the Buckeyes to .000 hitting. Nebraska had eight blocks, including seven by Pavan and six by Elmer in game one alone. Houghtelling and Larson had four kills each, as the duo combined for eight of NU's 12 kills. Leading 13-8, Nebraska relied on its block in a decisive 9-2 spurt to take a commanding 22-10 lead. NU had five blocks in the run, all involving Pavan and Elmer.

While the defense was the story in game one, Nebraska's offense continued to shine in game two, as the Huskers posted a 30-19 win. NU hit a blistering .529, committing one error in 29 swings. The visitors put the game out of reach early, using strong serving to jump out to a 9-1 lead. NU, which had one ace in its first two matches last week, had four aces in game two alone, including consecutive aces by Houghtelling. The Buckeyes eventually got to within 22-15, but consecutive kills by Larson and Houghtelling pushed the lead to nine and forced a Buckeye timeout, as NU cruised to the win.

Cook said that it was important for NU to come out quickly in a hostile environment.

"When you are on the road, you need to come out strong," Cook said. "You don't want to come from behind on the road, and I thought we did a great job of that tonight."

In the finale, the Huskers took advantage of several Buckeye hitting errors to jump to an early 7-2 lead. OSU eventually whittled the lead to 8-6, but Pavan then served five straight points, giving the Huskers a 13-6 lead. Nebraska was never threatened again on its way to a lopsided three-game sweep.

Danielle Meyer had a match-high 18 kills for Ohio State (1-1), while no other Buckeye had more than six kills on the night.

The Huskers will conclude their two-day tournament stay in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Sept. 3, when they take on Michigan at 4:30 p.m. (central). The match will be available on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and on live on the Internet at Huskers.com.

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