Teams staves off impending victory 4 times in first game

Matt Gubbels

LINCOLN, Neb. – Late in game one of their match with the No. 1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, the ISU volleyball team accomplished something that no one else has been able to do against Nebraska in 2007.

The Cyclones not only led late in game one, but later fought off four game points to take the No.1 Nebraska Cornhuskers to extra points.

Kills from Sarah Pavan and Christina Houghtelling, however, finished off a 33-31 victory for the defending national champions and kept Iowa State from being the only team other than No. 5 UCLA to take a game from the Huskers this season.

Coach Christy Johnson said the first game was similar to last year’s match in Lincoln, where the Cyclones almost took their first game at the NU Coliseum since Johnson played for the Huskers in 1994.

“To have one great game against the number one team in the country is good,” Johnson said. “We were able to stay pretty poised but we just weren’t able to sustain it. I really thought we would get that first game.”

The Cyclones were able to silence the hostile crowd for most of the game with their defense, which has been their forte all year. The blocking and passing, along with some aggressive serving, took the Huskers out of their rhythm and helped hold them under a .200 hitting percentage for just the fifth game all season.

Senior Erin Boeve said coming out aggressively against a team like the Cornhuskers was key to keeping them from getting into their system.

“It was really exciting to take them out of their game,” Boeve said. “It was really important to come out fired up and ready to go, especially against a team like this.”

Overall, the Cyclones became only one of three teams this season to hold Nebraska to less than a .300 hitting percentage for an entire match.

Nebraska coach John Cook, who coached with Johnson at Wisconsin, said what made the Cyclones tough was that they played harder than any team his squad has faced all year.

“Iowa State gets better every year,” Cook said. “I was very impressed with their team tonight.”

The Cyclones took one game and narrowly lost another against the Huskers last year in Ames, and Boeve said the team would like to do that again this year after Wednesday’s match.

“It’s nice that we get two chances at everyone in the Big 12,” Boeve said. “It was a lot of fun last year.”