LINCOLN, Neb. -- Playing against its toughest competition to date, Creighton threw a second-set scare into Nebraska, before ultimately succumbing in three sets against the No. 11 ranked Cornhuskers on Thursday night at the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln.
Scores of the match in favor of Nebraska (4-1) were 25-14, 26-24, 25-16.
Creighton (2-6) showed no fear to start the match, running off the first three points of the match to temporarily stun the home crowd. Heather Thorson got things started with a kill, Julianne Mandolfo followed with an ace, and Natalie Hackbarth tipped a kill into the middle of NU's exposed defense. Though Nebraska would take the lead to go ahead 9-6, Creighton answered with a 6-0 run during Bober's turn at the service line to stake itself to a 12-9 edge. Nebraska answered that deficit with an overwhelming 11-0 run that would be too much for the Jays to overcome in the first set, which NU eventually won 25-14. Morgan Broekhuis had four kills for NU in the first set, while the Jays were paced by a pair of kills from both Laurel Sanford and Megan Bober.
Creighton and Nebraska traded body blows in the second set, with neither team able to break away and a whopping 19 ties. The Jays stayed close throughout the set and went ahead 19-18 after Mandolfo's ace trickled over the net to cap a 4-1 run. Creighton led as late as 22-21 before kills by Brooke Delano and Brokehuis got the Huskers the lead at 22-21. The Jays and Huskers traded points to tie the score at 23-all and 24-all before a Sicner hitting error and Jordan Wilberger tip at the net gave the hosts a 2-0 advantage heading to intermission with a 26-24 set triumph.
The third set was close early before NU scored four in a row to extend its lead to 15-9. The Jays cut into that spread with two points coming out of a timeout before NU won the longest point of the match on a Mancuso kill en route to the victory.
Creighton was led offensively by six kills each from Almgren and Sicner, while Laurel Sanford had five kills and tied Sicner with team-high three blocks. Sicner and Mandolfo shared team-best numbers with eight digs each. Creighton hit .053 and finished with 27 kills, five aces, five blocks and 41 digs.
Nebraska was led by 13 kills from Broekhuis, while Gina Mancuso had a 12 kills adn 10 digs. Lara Dystrka led all players with 14 digs, and Wilberger had a match-best five blocks. NU had 46 kills, three aces, 55 digs and seven blocks.
Creighton continues play in the Ameritas Players Challenge on Friday when it will play Weber State in a match slated for a 4:30 pm start. That contest can be heard on KOIL (1180 AM). In the first match of the tournament on Thursday afternoon, Saint Mary's defeated Weber State, 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-19).
NOTES: The match was declared a sellout, the 150th consecutive at the venerable NU Coliseum for the Huskers ... Creighton freshman Leah McNary made her collegiate debut late in the first set, where she pounded a kill to end NU's 11-0 run on her first swing ... Creighton has never won a set in Lincoln against Nebraska in nine matches, but for the second straight trip lost the second set by two points (25-23 in 2009) ... Nebraska leads the all-time series, 14-0, vs. Creighton.