staff, November 22, 2011

( The No. 2 Nebraska volleyball team (24-3, 17-2) clinched the first Big Ten Conference title in school history Tuesday night with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-19) sweep of the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Nebraska has now captured 32 conference titles overall. Before the Huskers made history on Tuesday night, Penn State had previously won the conference crown for eight-straight seasons. Minnesota claimed the title in 2002.

?This is not an easy conference to win,? John Cook said. ?We did it while dealing with a lot of things, but through the leadership of our captains, we found a way to come together and hang tough. We had to outlast all these other teams, a new coaching staff and had some big-time players to replace.?

Gina Mancuso led the Huskers on the night with 14 kills, while Hannah Werth had 12 kills and nine digs. Lauren Cook notched her 15th double-double of the season with 32 assists and 10 digs. Jordan Wilberger had four block assists as Morgan Broekhuis had three.

The Huskers hit .386 for the match, while the Hawkeyes hit .114. Nebraska out-blocked Iowa 7-0 and out-dug them 45-34.

Nebraska came out in the first set, taking a 5-3 lead on a hitting error by the Hawkeyes. A kill from Jordan Wilberger put NU up 10-6, while the Huskers gained an 18-12 advantage after a block by Delano and Mancuso. Nebraska went up 19-12 after the Hawkeyes committed another hitting error, forcing Iowa to use their second timeout.  A block by Wilberger and Broekhuis put NU ahead 23-14, and Nebraska went on to take the first set 25-14.

Wilberger led Nebraska in the first set with three kills on six attacks. Mancuso and Werth both had two kills, while Cook notched eight assists. Lara Dykstra tabbed five digs as Broekhuis and Werth both had four. The Huskers hit just .194 in the first set, but totaled three team blocks and 17 digs. Iowa hit .026 in the first set and had no team blocks.

Wilberger came out on fire in the second set, helping Nebraska to an early 4-0 lead. A service ace by Dykstra put NU ahead 8-4, while a block from Delano gave Nebraska a 12-6 advantage. Wilberger and Broekhuis combined for back-to-back kills as the Huskers took a 17-9 lead and forced Iowa to use a timeout. An ace from Dykstra put Nebraska up 19-10 and another ace by Paige Hubl gave NU a 22-11 lead. A block error by the Hawkeyes gave Nebraska the second set 25-14 as the Huskers headed into break up 2-0.

Mancuso and Werth both notched six kills in the second set as Cook had 15 assists. Dykstra had five digs in the set, en route to a team-total of 10 for the Huskers, and Wilberger put up two blocks. The Huskers hit .600 in the second set, while holding Iowa to .120 and no team blocks.

Broekhuis put NU ahead 4-2 in the third set, while a kill by Werth made it 6-3, Huskers. Wilberger notched a kill of her own as the Huskers took an 8-4 lead. NU used back-to-back three-point streaks to go up 15-8 on the Hawkeyes before Iowa scored three-straight points to make it 15-11, Huskers.  Nebraska used an error by the Hawkeyes to take an 18-11 lead, as a kill by Werth put NU up 21-13. Iowa would not go down as the Hawkeyes came within four at 23-18, but the Huskers went on to take the final set 25-19, securing the sweep over Iowa and their first Big Ten Championship.

Mancuso had six kills for the Huskers in the third set, while Werth notched four. Cook tallied nine assists and the Huskers hit .406 in the final set. NU had 18 digs and two team blocks, while Iowa had zero team blocks and only 13 digs. The Hawkeyes hit .195 in the third set.

The Huskers conclude the regular season at Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.