The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, December 12, 1997, Page 7, Image 7

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    Friday, December 12,1997UffWM Page 7
Pettit looks to Nepo to lead Huskers
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By Shannon Heffelfinger
Assignment Reporter
The Nebraska volleyball team
enters this weekend with the possi
bility of a season-ending loss loom
ing over its head like a dark cloud.
But NU Coach Terry Pettit
remains confident that the Huskers
can avoid a possible storm by plac
ing the responsibility of leading the
team on the shoulders of one of its
brightest stars.
The No. 9 Comhuskers will turn
to All-American setter Fiona Nepo
to lead what Pettit hopes turns into a
successful run through the NCAA
Tournament Pacific Regional host
ed by No. 1 Long Beach State.
“More than any other player,”
Pettit said, “she reflects the spirit of
our team.”
NU faces seventh-ranked
Southern California (23-5) Friday
night at 7:30 at the Pyrapiid in Long
Beach, Calif.
With a victory, Nebraska (26-6)
advances to the regional final
Saturday at 9:30 p.m. to play the
winner of Lone Beach State f31-li
. and Washington State (20-9), who
face off Friday night at 10. If the
Huskers win the finals they would
.advance to the Final Four for the
Pettit said Nepo has turned in
her best performances of the season
die past few weeks. In the Huskers’
victory over Michigan State in the
second round of the NCAA
Tournament last weekend, Nepo
recorded five kills and four service
aces to go dong with her 36 assists.
“Yoti can’t play beyond your set
ter,” Pettit said. “If your setter has
doubts or struggles, you’d have to
have an awfully strong team to over
come that.
“Bid Fiona is playing her best
volleyball of the season. Last year,
she spent a lot of energy just learn
ing the position. But now, she has
the ability to have an impact in ways
she never did before.”
Nepo, named to the All-Big 12
first team last week, is not die only
mgu-piuiuc scuci tu me rauut
Regional. Long Beach State’s Misty
May is a strong candidate for player
of the year.
A two-time Big West
Conference player of the year, May
averages 3.05 digs per game and 12
assists per game and has recorded
four triple-doubles (kills, assists,
digs) this season.
USC Coach Lisa Love said the
setters’ decision-making ability
could determine the outcome of the
Love predicted Nepo would
cause problems for Southern
“There is no question about it,”
Love said. “No one is more key than
the person at the setter position.
Nebraska is an outstanding physical
team, but it’s their talented setter
that allows them to run a very
diverse offense.”
Nepo’s ability to diversify NU’s
offense helps keep opponents off
balance, Pettit said, an aspect that
was missing earlier this season dur
ing a stretch when NU lost four of
six matches.
But Nepo shares die responsibil
ivj WAV' X xuunvi u, tmuuvio
of 11 straight, back on track.
“I realized that I needed to play
at a higher level as we were heading
toward die end of our season,” Nepo
said “Now, alt of the Yearns- in our
regional have such strong hitters
and setters that for us to compete, I
have to play at a higher level.”
Pettit said the Huskers also need
outside hitters Mandy Monson and,
Angie Oxley to continue their high
level of play. ~ ' V?
Monson has hit .300 or better in
the last eight matches.
Oxley, who earned conference
freshman-of-the-year honors, leads
NU with 3.27 kids per contest.
p “This promises to be as com
petitive a regional as there is in the
tournament,” Pettit said. “USC has
an All-American middle who hit
.450 for most of the season, and
they are very athletic.”
Long Beach, Cali!.
By Darken Ivy
'jar r&'i ^-C- '.A- .... "
" i
dated in high schooling Were married,
after his freshman year at Nebraska and
have been married 3 Vi years. Taylor said,
they plan to move back to Wichita Falls,
Kan., someday.
DuringTaylor’s freshman year,
Brandi stayed in Texas and finished high
school. She now lives and works in
Lincoln paying the family’s bills, Taylor
“My wife and I don’t have any kids
yet,” Taylor said “But I like kids.”
^ ^Taylor’s love (^frnoiilyandkidawas
evidentUttee yeaii ago when he started
helping with Pacific in Lincoln.
> Pacific Pals is a summer camp run
1&:athletes. Thrathletes take disadvan
taged Lincoln youths and lead them
through multicultural projects and other
. activities. The.goal of the camp is to
keep kids off the streets. Taylor said it
seems to be working. \
“I still have some of these kids call
ing me and stopping by my bouse,”
Taylor said. “Hopefully these lads are
turning out for the better.”
Taylor has also formed a brother
hood with his teammates.
Eric Anderson, a senior offensive
lineman from Lincoln, and Taylor
both started as sophomores and have
grown and learned their positions
“He’s a great guy and a great person
to hang around,” Anderson said
Taylor has come a long way since
high school.
Not heavily recruited, Taylor ended
up at NU after former Husker Scott
Saltsman, another Wichita Falls gradu
ate, told NU coaches about him.
Since becoming a Husker, Taylor
has been a three-year starter on the
offensive line. In 1996, he was runner
up for the Outland Trophy, awarded to
the best lineman in the country.
Thursday night, he was awarded the tro
phy at the College Football Awards
Show in Orlando, Fla.
But Taylor said he wouldn’t have
been able to do itwithout his fellow line
men and teammates.
“I’ll give all my credit to those
guys,” Tjylor said “I wouldn’t be where
I am without those guys.”
When Taylor isn’t hunting for
defenders to block, he can be found in
the outdoors with his two hunting dogs,
Tex and Flash.
He said he likes hunting not neces
sarily for the killing, but because he
enjoys spending time in the outdoors
with his dogs.
“I love animals,” Taylor said “You
got to have a dog. (Tex) is my buddy.”
Taylor wasn’t able to do much bunt
ing or playing football while growing up
in Bitburg, Germany. He lived there for
eight years while his father served in the
Air Force.
Because football isn’t popular in
Germany he played soccer instead
Taylor said he had a lot of German
friends. Some still keep in touch with
his father.
“I think some people over there still
follow me and die Huskers,” he said
NU looks
to ditch
road woes
By Sam McEewon
Staff Reporter
After nine games this season,
the Nebraska men’s basketball
team has met its first crossroads
of the year.
The Cornhuskers (7-2) have
lost two of its last four games -
both on the road - and must play
awav from the Bob Devanev
Sports Center
again Saturday
at 7 p.m. against
Minnesota in
Minneapolis at
Williams Arena.
After NU’s
84-73 loss to
guard Cookie Belcher pointed to
the Golden Gophers as a critical
“It’s a must-win-type game
for us,” Belcher said. “We have
to beat Minnesota on Saturday.”
Tiq ^|ch^M^^jf^jserve|
' «k Buskers well to £0, into thd
with a victory. The Rainbow
Classic field includes Kansas,
Vanderbilt, Hawaii and Virginia.
NU must then face back-to-back
road games against Kansas and
Oklahoma State in early January.
“We can’t allow ourselves to
go into Hawaii having not won a
road game,” said Belcher, who
scored 12 points against
Creighton. “We’ve got a tough
part of our schedule coming up,
*' 4tnd Minnesota starts that.” -
* The Gophers (4-2) may np^be
the best tea^j^p|^|;
starters returning froln *1
97 team that srtfis 31 -4, wAn tWe
Big 10 title, and went to the Fingl,
Four. So far, Minnesota has lost
to Utah State, 75-67, and
Alabama, 64-63.
Senior forward Sam Jacobson
teaas tne uopners witn 1j./
points per game and 7.2
rebounds. Junior guard Quincy
Lewis, who burned NU for 14
points in a 70-56 Golden Gopher
win in Lincoln last season, pours
in 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds
per game.
Another problem could be
UM’s famed Williams Arena,
known for its seats below the
floor and its intimidating
Point guard Tyronn Lue, who
played in an 81-70 loss to the
Gophers at Williams Arena in
1995, said taking the crowd out
of the game will be key.
“I know that it can get loud,
so we have to be ready for that,”
Lue said. “We have to come out
ready to play from the very
Lue said Nebraska can not
afford to continually lose road
games. NU was 4-9 on the road
last year. y
“We can’t win only four road
games like we did last year,” he
said. “That can’t happen.”