Mueller Shines in No. 1 Nebraska's Sweep over No. 15 Kansas State

11/8/2008

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LINCOLN, Neb. -  Behind a career night from Tara Mueller, third-ranked Nebraska rolled to an impressive sweep of No. 15 Kansas State, winning by scores of 25-23, 25-22 and 25-17 Saturday night.

Mueller, a sophomore outside hitter, established a career high for the second straight match, drilling home a match-high 20 kills on a career-best .615 hitting. Mueller, who had 19 kills in Wednesday's five-set win at Texas A&M, was one of three Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska upped its record to 23-1 overall and 13-1 in conference action. 

Cook said that Mueller's effort was impressive, especially against a strong blocking team such as Kansas State.

"I think Tara was playing higher than that block tonight," Nebraska Coach John Cook said. "She's doing a great job of hitting and moving the ball around. Both Jordan (Larson) and Tara put on a clinic tonight and did a super job. I think Rita Liliom on K-State did really well too. They were three very good left side players tonight and all were hard to stop."

Jordan Larson and Lindsey Licht finished with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, as the Huskers posted their best offensive night in league play, hitting .352 against the Wildcats. Larson picked up her ninth double-double with 14 digs, tying Kayla Banwarth for match-high honors. Sydney Anderson dished out 42 assists and had two blocks and five digs, as NU hit .410 in the opening set and closed out the match by hitting .387 in the finale.

Liliom led Kansas State with 13 kills on .345 hitting and seven blocks in a losing effort, as the Wildcats saw their four-match win streak snapped.

Nebraska, which has won 83 straight home matches, improved to 6-0 against ranked teams in their first contest against a ranked foe since Sept. 18.

NU used Mueller's strong offense performance to prevail in the opening set, 25-23. The Huskers hit .410 as a team with Mueller powering home nine kills in 13 swings. NU needed every one of those kills, as the Wildcats were nearly flawless themselves, hitting a blistering .548 and not committing a hitting error the entire set. Mueller got the Huskers off to a quick start, drilling home two quick kills as NU jumped to a 4-1 lead. KSU fought back and eventually took an 8-7 lead off a block by Megan Farr and JuliAnne Chisholm, only to see the Huskers run off three straight points, as Mueller slammed home a kill of a Larson pass to make it 10-8.  Nebraska eventually pushed the lead to 16-13, but the Wildcats chipped away, eventually tying it at 17 on a Liliom kill. The teams traded points until a KSU serving error, and Larson kill put NU ahead 21-19 to force a K-State timeout. The Wildcats, behind Natalya Korobkova's seven kills on eight swings, kept fighting and were within 23-22 before NU pulled away. Kori Cooper put down a big kill to put the Huskers up 24-22 before Mueller's ninth kill closed out the opening set.

"We found a way to win (the first set) tonight," Cook said.  I don't know how, but we hung in there and found a way to get big points when it mattered."

The Huskers relied on their outside attack in the second set, as Mueller and Larson carried the Huskers to a 25-22 win to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. NU held the Wildcats to .150 hitting and recorded three blocks. Mueller continued her stellar play with eight kills on 12 swings, while Larson had four kills and eight digs. Nebraska took command early, using a 6-1 spurt to take a 12-7 lead after two Mueller kills and a pair of Wildcat miscues. Once again, K-State would charge back, using a 5-1 spurt of its own to pull within a point and eventually taking a 19-18 lead after a Chisholm kill. Down 20-19, Nebraska finally took command, winning five of the next seven rallies, breaking a 21-all tie on a Mueller kill and a Wildcat error before extending the lead to 24-21 lead after Licht's kill tickled the net seemingly forever until dropping on the Wildcat side.

NU was firing on all cylinders in the finale, hitting .387 as team in rolling to a 25-17 win. Licht drilled home five kills, while Amanda Gates slammed home four kills on six swings and added a block. Strong serving from Anderson got the Huskers off to a quick start, as her ace ignited a 6-1 spurt to open the set. KSU fought to within 7-5, but a service error and two straight attack errors allowed NU to double up the score and force the second timeout of the set. The Huskers put the set away moments later, using a 5-0 spurt off Mueller's serve to push the margin to 19-12 after a Licht kill. Nebraska eventually pushed the lead to as many as nine points before Mueller's final swing of the night gave the Huskers their 16th sweep of the season.

Korobkova added 12 kills for Kansas State(21-5, 11-4 Big 12), as the Wildcats cooled off after the blistering first set and saw their four-match win streak snapped.

The Huskers return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 12, when the Huskers play host to the Missouri Tigers. First serve at the NU Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried on the Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and Twister 93.3 FM in Omaha, and on Huskers.com.

Article courtesy of Nebraska athletics.

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