Sunday, December 17, 2006

Husker News ENews 12-12-06

Hey Bay Area Husker Fans!

How about those Lady Husker Volleyball players!!! Don't know if you got a chance to watch the match on Saturday (ESPNU), but what a comeback victory over Minnesota in the Florida regionals! Down 0-2 it was looking grim, but they did a gut check and won the next three in a row decisively. This means they are headed back to Omaha for the Semi-finals and hopefully the National Championship. The games will be televised live on ESPN2 and ESPNU so check the article below for details

Thanks again to everyone who donated to our clothing drive. I have collected all of the watch site donations and will be sending three large boxes to Iraq for the needy. Will give you updates when I hear they have arrived. And check out a repeat Husker Holiday Humor poem at the end of the email.

Go Big Red (White and Blue),


Dani Mancuso and the No. 1 ranked Huskers will take on UCLA Thursday at 6 p.m.

The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team will square off against No. 4 UCLA in the first NCAA semifinal on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 4 p.m. (pacific) at Qwest Center Omaha.

The contest, which is already a sellout, will be carried live nationally on ESPN2 and on ESPNU and is the first of two national semifinals on Thursday.

In the other matchup, second-ranked Stanford (29-3) will take on defending national champion and sixth-seeded Washington (29-4) at 6:30 p.m. or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first match. Thursday’s two winners will advance to the national championship match, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16.

The matchup between the Huskers (31-1) and Bruins (33-3) is a rematch of last season’s NCAA regional semifinal, a 3-0 Nebraska win last December in Omaha. NU leads the all-time series, 7-4, with four of the previous meetings taking place in the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskers earned their ticket to the National Semifinals, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to top No. 9 Minnesota in five games. Regional Most Outstanding Player Jordan Larson paced NU with a career-high 21 kills and 17 digs, as Nebraska overcame a 2-0 deficit in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The Huskers will be making their second straight appearance in the national semifinals and 10th in school history.

UCLA, which tied for second in the Pac-10 Conference, features the country’s top middle blocker in senior All-American Nana Meriwether, who averages 4.12 kills per game, while leading the country in both blocks (1.97 per game) and hitting percentage (.460). Meriwether is one of five Bruins averaging more than two kills per game, as UCLA brings an eight-match win streak into Thursday’s match.


Nebraska's next match is at the Qwest Center on Thursday.

Sarah Pavan and Jordan Larson combined for 41 kills, as No. 1 Nebraska clinch├ęd the first berth in the NCAA National Semifinals with a 25-30, 22-30, 30-20, 30-25, 15-9 victory over No. 9 Minnesota Saturday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla.

The Huskers, who improved to 31-1 on the season, did it the hard way, winning the final three games after falling behind 2-0 to earn their 10th trip to the national semifinals. It marked the 10th time in school history and the first time in NCAA tournament play that Nebraska had rallied back from a 2-0 deficit.

“This is the way it should be to get to the Final Four.” Nebraska Head Coach John Cook said. “Our team certainly showed a lot of character tonight, and prior to this we weren’t sure we had a lot of character because we hadn’t been put in a situation like this before. Minnesota played very, very well, especially in the first two games, but we hung in there and did what we’ve been working on all year, which is playing point by point and not taking our eyes off of this match and looking ahead to Omaha.”

Larson posted her 21st double-double of the year, totaling a career high 21 kills and 17 digs en route to Regional Most Outstanding Player honors. Pavan finished with 20 kills and 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the year and joined Larson and freshman setter Rachel Holloway, who totaled a career-high 55 assists, on the Regional All-Tournament team. It marked the first time that two Huskers had at least 20 kills in a match since the 2004 campaign.

The Huskers would not be going to Omaha if it weren’t for the efforts of seniors Dani Mancuso and Dani Busboom, both of whom made major contributions in NU’s comeback. Mancuso totaled a season-high 15 kill, while Busboom tied Larson for team-high honors with 17 digs. Tracy Stalls was the fourth Husker to finish in double figures in kills, totaling 13 kills on .375 hitting and adding a team-high six stuffs.

Cook said the comeback capped an amazing season that will see the Huskers shoot for their third national title in school history in front of sellout crowds at the Qwest Center in Omaha beginning Thursday evening. Nebraska will play in Thursday's first national semifinal, slated for a 4:30 p.m. start.

“I can’t tell you how much this team has been living with what I want to call pressure to play in the Final Four in Omaha in front of a sold-out Qwest Center,” Cook said. “They’ve done an amazing job of handling those expectations, so this is a tremendous and historic win for Nebraska since it’s the first time we’ve made it to the Final Four without going outside of Nebraska to get there.”

Busboom, one of three captains, said the Huskers showed the fortitude to be the first Nebraska volleyball team to win a regional away from home.

“All year we’ve been saying that this team is different than all of the other Nebraska teams in the past, and I think it really showed tonight,” Busboom said. “Everyone was struggling in the first two games, and then everyone picked it up instead of putting it all on one person’s back.”

The comeback was never more evident than in game five, when the Huskers hit a match-high .522 on 23 swings, including four kills by Pavan and three each from Stalls and Larson after the Huskers hit under .300 in each of the first four games.

It looked bleak for the Huskers early on, as Nebraska struggled offensively in the first two games, hitting under .120 in both games in falling behind 2-0 for the first time all season. NU committed 22 errors in the first two games, while the Gophers played inspired ball early on.

According to Larson, the Huskers’ intermission talk awoke NU from its sluggish start.

“We came into the third game knowing we were better than how we’d been playing. We’ve worked all year to get this far, and so I think we all just had a complete mental change.”

In game three, the Huskers took control midway through the game, as strong serving from Rachel Schwartz and Tracy Stalls keyed a 7-1 run, turning a 9-all deadlock into a 16-10 advantage after a Gopher hitting errors. Minnesota pulled to within 17-14, but could not get closer as a Larson kill began a run of four straight points with the sophomore at the service line, as Minnesota would not get closer than five points the rest of the way.

Nebraska continued the momentum in game four, hitting .255 as Larson keyed a 30-25 win. The Huskers jumped on the Gophers early, racing out to an 11-3 lead after a Pavan service ace. Minnesota, which ended its season with a 26-8 mark, fought back to within 22-20, but kills by Mancuso and Larson gave NU a four-point lead. UM got to within 24-21, but two Pavan kills and a Gopher hitting error gave Nebraska the margin they needed to get into a game five.

The Huskers, who had played only two five-game matches all season, used strong serving from Holloway to jump on the Gophers, scoring the first five points. From there, the Huskers continued to add to thei lead, pushing the margin to 11-4 on Rachel Schwartz’s third ace of the night. Minnesota cut the lead to 14-9, but Pavan slammed home her 21st kill for match point, setting off a jubilent celebration among the Husker supporters who traveled to Florida for the regional.


Defensive Coordinator Coach Cosgrove and the rest of the coaching staff traveled around the country this past week recruiting.

The Nebraska football team looked crisp and ready for action in a two-hour full-pad workout in the Hawks Championship Center Saturday. The practice consisted of several fast-paced offensive series’ that saw action from players deep into the depth chart. The team was back at work following a five-day break after the Big 12 Championship game as the team begins preparations to take on Auburn in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove was excited to return to an energetic Husker squad following a week of recruiting across the country.

“It was good,” Cosgrove said. “I got back in from (recruiting) on the road on Friday, and it was nice to get back on the practice field. We gave a lot of our young kids an opportunity to get some practice reps today and some great individual work. It was a good overall day.”

Cosgrove additionally touched on the many reps they will be giving to the younger portion of the squad during the three weeks of practice leading to the bowl game.

“We’re trying to get young guys as many reps as we can,” Cosgrove said. “We also use this time to take a look at kids in different positions, so that will be interesting.”

Much of the next month will be spent recruiting for most of the assistant coaches, as Cosgrove confirmed an excitement amongst recruits following a season in which the Huskers continue to make strides.

“It’s been really positive,” Cosgrove said. “The recruits are excited. We’ve made a lot of progress, and things are going really well right now. We’re still getting our regular workouts in, and getting a chance to get out there and show recruits what we’ve been up to.”


NU's younger players, such as freshman Corey Young, have received numerous reps during the start of bowl practice this week.

The Nebraska football team held its second day of Cotton Bowl preparations Sunday with a three-hour workout in full pads inside the Hawks Championship Center. For the second straight day, some of the more inexperienced Huskers received a portion of the practice’s focus with a scrimmage to conclude the afternoon’s exercises.

Head Coach Bill Callahan singled out several players whose play stood out during the scrimmage.

“Our younger players did a nice job,” Callahan said. “We scrimmaged at length with our younger players—freshmen primarily—and they did some awfully good things. Corey Young had some hellacious hits. (Tyler) Kester, he did well. Thomas Lawson carried the ball quite a bit in the scrimmage. Our young linemen, they just can’t get enough reps right now. All in all, it was a great day for our young players.”

The depth that the Huskers have built this season has allowed the squad to designate sections of their bowl practices for the sole development of their younger players.

“I don’t know if we had enough bodies to do it last year,” Callahan said. “We’re a little bit deeper right now, so it has allowed us some flexibility in trying to get these guys a little more experience.”

Callahan said repetitions like those offered during Sunday’s scrimmage can be very important for the development of younger players.

“They’ll have an opportunity so see themselves on film. They will get a chance to evaluate and assess their fundamentals and techniques in a scrimmage situation, so it is just invaluable, to say the least.

“The players are all in position meetings during the course of the season. They have a great idea of what is being taught. It is just a matter of executing and getting practice with it. (The scrimmage) was great for everyone. These guys have been absorbing the system now for the entirety of training camp and the fall, so it was great to see them get to try and execute under duress.”

On the injury front, Callahan reported that freshman offensive tackle Jacob Hickman was sidelined by a knee injury during practice on Saturday after suffered a sprained MCL. While still unsure of the severity of the injury on Sunday, the squad has not ruled Hickman out of action for the Cotton Bowl matchup with Auburn. Additionally, junior fullback Matt Senske has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing back surgery.

Nebraska will take the following four days off from practice during finals week before returning to the field on Friday.


Rickey Thenarse was named Nebraska Special Teams MVP Friday for his efforts during the 2006 season.

The Nebraska football program honored its 19-member senior class on Friday night at the Huskers’ annual team banquet at the Lincoln Station in the Haymarket. Seven Husker players were also presented with awards as part of the evening’s program.

Senior quarterback Zac Taylor continued his post-season awards haul, receiving two honors at the banquet. Taylor was chosen as Nebraska’s Offensive MVP in a vote of his teammates, and was also presented with the 2006 Guy Chamberlin Trophy, as voted on by media members who cover Nebraska football on a daily basis. The Chamberlin Trophy is presented to the senior player who has shown by his play and contributions to the betterment of the University of Nebraska football squad that he has the qualities and dedication of Guy Chamberlin to the great Cornhusker tradition.

A native of Norman, Okla., Taylor shattered nearly every passing record at Nebraska, including setting both season and career marks for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Last week he was chosen as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by both the Big 12 Coaches and the Associated Press.

Defensive end Adam Carriker received Nebraska’s Defensive MVP award for the second straight season. Carriker finished his senior season with a team-leading six sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He finished the regular season with 49 overall tackles, the most among Husker defensive linemen. He closed his senior year in strong fashion, recording five sacks in the final five games of the season. Carriker was picked as the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year by the Big 12 coaches.

Freshman cornerback Rickey Thenarse was honored for his special teams work by being named the Huskers’ 2006 Special Teams MVP. Thenarse was a key member of Nebraska’s kickoff and punt coverage units and routinely made key plays. His efforts helped the Huskers rank 15th nationally in kickoff return defense and 22nd nationally in net punting.

Senior offensive guard Greg Austin was presented with this year’s Tom Novak Trophy. The Novak Trophy is presented to the senior who “best exemplifies courage and determination despite all odds in the manner of Nebraska All-America center Tom Novak.” Austin has started eight games this season despite injuring his knee on two occasions. Austin suffered a career-threatening knee injury as a freshman in 2003, but has battled back to contribute to the Husker offensive line each of the past three seasons.

The Huskers’ third senior award, the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award, was presented to fullback Dane Todd, a Lincoln native. The award is presented annually to the senior player selected by the Husker coaches, who best exemplifies the following qualities: good work ethic, competitiveness, leadership, forthrightness, sense of humor, pride, loyalty and love of Nebraska.

Todd is a two-year starter at fullback who has played a key role in Nebraska’s resurgent running attack that has produced more than 180 yards in eight games this season. Todd was a first-team All-Big 12 selection at fullback by the Big 12 coaches and also earned second-team academic All-America honors this season.

The offensive scout team MVP was quarterback Sam Keller, who joined the Nebraska program as a transfer from Arizona State in August. Despite impressive credentials when joining the program, Keller displayed a team-first attitude in helping the Huskers prepare for the opposition each week. On the defensive side, the scout team defensive MVP was junior defensive end Tony Sullivan, a native of Wahoo, Neb.

Todd lead a group of Nebraska’s academic award winners who were also honored at the banquet, including 15 first-team academic All-Big 12 selections.

Approximately 400 people attended the Saturday night banquet. The winners of the Chamberlin and Novak trophies and the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award will also be honored as part of the Outland Trophy Banquet in Omaha on Jan. 11.

Former Husker linebacker Jay Foreman ('99) just signed as a free agent with the 49ers!!!

* About This Cortney Grixby Fellow

Cortney Grixby knows that criticism just comes with the territory, especially when your territory is in Nebraska's defensive secondary.

* NFU Hears Differing Views On Developing Wind Energy

Critics say NPPD opposes wind-energy development. NPPD says it isn't so.

* Lincoln Takes A Do-Over On Verizon Building

Better safe than all manner of legal problems.

* Drive-by Killers Take Another Life In Omaha

What can you say? Moreover, what can be done?

* Gering Cowboy Is NFR World Champion

Congratulations! Anyone who would wrestle a steer deserves whatever they earn.

* Comeback Sends NU Into Final Four Against UCLA Thursday night. ESPN.

* Agricultural "Red States" Hope Democrats Can Enact Emergency Aid Bill

There is an irony in it. Overwhelmingly "Red" agricultural states are looking to the new Democratic majority to get disaster relief through Congress. The measure would still face a veto from President Bush.


Christmas in Nebraska (a repeat from last year, but still funny!)...

When it's Christmas in Nebraska,

And the gentle breezes blow,

About seventy miles an hour,

And its fifty-two below,

You can tell you're in Nebraska

'Cause the snow's up to your butt.

And you take a breath of Christmas air

And your nostrils both freeze shut.

The weather here is wonderful,

So I guess I'll hang around,

I could never leave Nebraska--

My feet are frozen to the ground!

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