Posted By: Sports
Courtesy: UNL Media Relations
The No. 4 Nebraska volleyball turns its attention to another top-15 opponent as No. 14 Michigan State visits the Devaney Center for a 7 p.m. match on Wednesday. NET will televise the match, and an online stream will be provided at BTN2GO.com.
The Huskers (11-3, 4-0 Big Ten) are coming off two top-10 victories as they swept No. 3 Minnesota before coming back from 0-2 down to beat No. 7 Wisconsin over the weekend. Those wins came one week after Nebraska swept road matches at No. 2 Penn State and Rutgers. It marked the first time in program history that the Huskers beat three top-10 teams in a span of nine days during the regular season.
The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Huskers, though, as they face the only other unbeaten team in conference play in Michigan State. The Spartans (11-2, 4-0 Big Ten) own road wins at both Minnesota and Wisconsin and have won six straight matches.
Husker Sports Network will broadcast all the action on HSN affiliates including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and 105.9 FM in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and on the official Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 24th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren Cook, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.
About the Huskers
• Nebraska is 13th nationally and second in the Big Ten in kills per set at 14.48.
• Nebraska ranks 13th nationally in opponent hitting percentage at .150, a mark that ranks third in the Big Ten.
• The highest opponent hitting percentage against the Huskers this season is .232 by Northern Iowa. The Huskers have held their first 14 opponents under .250 hitting for the first time since 2013.
• Mikaela Foecke leads the Huskers with 3.25 kills per set and is averaging 2.60 digs per set. The junior has five double-doubles this season.
• Annika Albrecht is averaging 3.15 kills per set and 2.75 digs per set. In Big Ten matches only, Albrecht ranks fourth in the Big Ten in kills at 4.29 per set.
• Albrecht has 115 career service aces, which ranks 10th in NU career history. With two more aces, she will move into a tie for ninth.
• Jazz Sweet adds 2.38 kills per set.
• Kelly Hunter, a two-time Big Ten Setter of the Week this season, is putting up 10.64 assists per set and 2.54 digs per set. The only NCAA Division I setter who has set her team to both a national and conference championship, Hunter ranks sixth in school history with 3,296 career assists at NU and is seven away from fifth place, currently held by Val Novak.
• Senior middle blocker Briana Holman averages 2.53 kills and 1.09 blocks per set with a team-high .331 hitting percentage. Holman’s hitting percentage of .429 in Big Ten matches only ranks fifth in the conference.
• Junior libero Kenzie Maloney is averaging 4.23 digs per set, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.
• Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lauren Stivrins chips in 2.27 kills and 0.96 blocks per set for the Huskers.
• John Cook, Nebraska: 18th year at Nebraska (510-68); 25th year overall (671-141)
• Cathy George, Michigan State: 13th year at Michigan State (243-165); 31st year overall (608-389)
• Nebraska is 17-2-2 all-time against Michigan State and 9-2 in the Big Ten era. The Huskers won 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 16-14) in East Lansing last season, rallying from an 0-2 deficit for the comeback win. Although Nebraska has won six straight matches against the Spartans, the last two have been in five sets and the three matches before that went four sets. NU is 9-0 all-time against the Spartans in Lincoln.
Scouting Michigan State
• No. 14 Michigan State is the only Big Ten team other than Nebraska with a perfect conference record through the first four matches. The Spartans (11-2, 4-0 Big Ten) have been impressive in conference play with road wins at then-No. 5 Wisconsin and then-No. 1 Minnesota. Their last three matches - at Minnesota and at home against Maryland and Ohio State - have all been sweeps.
• Michigan State is one of the most veteran teams in the Big Ten with seven seniors who earn the majority of the playing time. Middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink was a second-team AVCA All-American last year and is averaging 2.45 kills and a team-best 1.64 blocks per set with a .344 hitting percentage. Garvelink ranks third in the nation in blocks per set. Outside hitter Autumn Bailey is putting up 3.10 kills and 3.68 digs per set. Bailey received All-America honorable mention last year. Brooke Kranda leads the team with 3.28 kills per set and adds 0.95 blocks per set.
• MSU is one of the toughest serving teams in the Big Ten with a league-best 1.79 aces per set.
Hunter Guides Young Husker Squad
• All-America setter Kelly Hunter is in her senior season after leading NU to a national championship and a Big Ten championship the past two seasons as team captain and starting setter.
• Hunter was a second-team AVCA All-American in 2016 and an All-Big Ten setter, becoming the first Husker setter since Lauren Cook in 2012 to make the All-Big Ten team. She is a preseason All-Big Ten selection.
• Hunter ranks sixth on NU’s career assists chart with 3,296.
• Hunter was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week on Sept. 11 after a double-double of 31 assists and 14 digs against UCLA on Sept. 9.
• She added another honor on Sept. 25 after averaging 12.33 assists in sweeps at Penn State and Rutgers. She has eight career weekly Big Ten awards.
Foecke Poised for Bigger Role
• Junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke is NU’s top hitter with 3.25 kills per set. She received All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2016 and was an AVCA All-Region honoree.
• Foecke worked hard to become a six-rotation player entering her junior season and has been effective in that role, adding 2.60 digs per set. Foecke has five double-doubles this season and leads the team in aces with 14.
• Foecke was a unanimous preseason All-Big Ten selection and was one of just two players to earn a unanimous selection (Minnesota setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson).
• Foecke was the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player in 2015 - becoming just the third freshman to earn the honor - after 19 kills on .385 hitting in the championship win against Texas. The other freshmen to win the award were Deja McClendon (Penn State, 2010) and Kerri Walsh (Stanford, 1996).
Albrecht Steps Up as Senior Captain
• Senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht was named a team captain along with Kelly Hunter prior to the season and has stepped into her new role as a six-rotation hitter for the Huskers.
• Albrecht is second on the team in kills with 3.15 per set and adds 2.75 digs per set and 10 service aces. She ranks 10th in school history in career aces with 115.
• The North Aurora, Illinois native made national headlines this season when she tallied a career-high 19 kills on .400 hitting in a 3-0 sweep at Penn State on Sept. 22. For her performance, Albrecht was named the Big Ten Player of the Week, Sports Imports/AVCA Player of the Week and the espnW Player of the Week. The honors were all the first of her career.
Holman Leads Husker Middle Blockers
• Senior Briana Holman guides a relatively young group of Husker middle blockers, as she teams with redshirt freshman Lauren Stivrins and is backed up by true freshman Chesney McClellan.
• Holman is averaging 2.53 kills and a team-best 1.09 blocks per set for the Huskers while hitting a team-best .331. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 5 and the MVP of the Ameritas Players Challenge after a dominating display over three matches with 25 kills and 18 blocks on .525 hitting.
• Holman earned AVCA All-Region honors for the third time in her career last season and received All-Big Ten honorable mention.
• Holman was a first-team AVCA All-American at LSU in 2014 with 3.94 kills and 1.47 blocks per set. She was a two-time All-SEC performer for the Tigers and represented the U.S. Collegiate National Team at the World University Games in South Korea in July 2015.
Huskers Turn to Freshmen for Instant Impact
• With five true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen on the roster, the Huskers needed some new talent to step up in a big way in 2017, and that has happened.
• Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lauren Stivrins is averaging 2.27 kills per set and has started every match.
• Freshman outside hitter Jazz Sweet is fourth on the team in kills at 2.38 per set and is hitting .295. Sweet had an outstanding debut with 14 kills on .375 hitting against Oregon and 16 kills on .323 hitting at Florida.
• Redshirt freshman setter Hunter Atherton has made two starts and played in seven matches with an average of 6.14 assists and 1.82 digs per set. Atherton also has five service aces, third-most on the team.
• Freshman outside hitter Anezka Szabo, who plays the same right-side hitter position as Sweet, tallied 10 kills on .400 hitting against Saint Mary’s and has played in nine matches.
Huskers Ranked No. 4 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 4 in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll, up four spots from No. 8 last week and its highest ranking of the season. The Huskers have climbed 10 spots from their No. 14 ranking two weeks ago.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 98 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 461 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 517 AVCA Coaches Polls since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every poll all-time.
Cook Adds to Legacy; Will Join AVCA Hall of Fame in December
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 18th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2017. He has led the Huskers to three national championships, seven final fours, 11 conference championships and 15 top-10 final rankings since 2000. Cook has 671 career wins and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history.
• Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .882 win percentage in that time (510-68).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 49 AVCA All-Americans and 19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a six-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016, his first Big Ten honor with the Huskers in their Big Ten era (2011-present).
• Cook was named the AVCA North Region Coach of the Year this season, his fifth career regional coaching honor and fourth while at Nebraska.
• Cook is one of only four active coaches - and one of six all-time - to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award.
• Cook will be inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in December in Kansas City, Missouri. Cook will join former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall.
Husker Fans Set Attendance Standard Once Again
• Nebraska fans led the nation in attendance for a fourth straight season as their 8,210 average per match in 2016 established a new NCAA attendance record, topping its 2015 average of 8,206.
• The Huskers’ total attendance of 155,986 in 19 home matches also set a school record.
• In 2013, the Huskers led the nation in attendance (8,175) for the first time since 1992, ending Hawaii’s 21-year reign as the national leader.
• The Huskers repeated as attendance champions in 2014 with 8,083 fans per match, which included a school-record 8,585 fans at the Oct. 3 win against Penn State.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top three nationally in attendance every season since 1990 (27 straight seasons).
• The Huskers have sold out every regular-season match since 2001, a streak of 226 consecutive matches, the longest sellout streak in the history of NCAA women’s athletics.
• The Devaney Center has hosted the three largest regular-season crowds in NCAA history and seven of the 10 largest.
Huskers Get Depth From Former Husker Women’s Basketball Player Allie Havers
• The Huskers gained some depth at middle blocker when former Husker women’s basketball player Allie Havers joined the team in the spring.
• Havers, a 6-5 native of Mattawan, Michigan, has one season of eligibility to play volleyball, a sport she excelled at in high school. Havers was a first-team Class A all-state player in Michigan in 2012 and a finalist for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball in 2013.
• On the Nebraska women’s basketball team, Havers closed her career having played in 125 games with 50 starts. She ranked among the top 50 career scorers (720 points) and top 25 career rebounders (541) in Husker history.
Cook’s Coaching Tree Continues to Grow
• Nebraska head coach John Cook’s assistant coaches have a great track record of moving on to become head coaches.
• After the 2016 season, Nebraska assistants Chris Tamas and Dani Busboom Kelly both accepted high-level Division I head coaching jobs. Busboom Kelly became the head coach at Louisville, while Tamas accepted the head coaching job at Big Ten foe Illinois.
• Seven assistants under Cook have become head coaches following their time on Cook’s Nebraska staff: Craig Skinner (Kentucky), Lee Maes (Virginia), Lizzy Stemke (Georgia), Dan Conners (UC Davis), Dan Meske (Augustana, Associate Head Coach at Louisville), Busboom Kelly and Tamas.
• In the last seven years, five of Cook’s Husker assistants have become head coaches.
New Players, New Coaches
• Not only are six of the 15 Husker players new to the program, so are the two Husker assistant coaches. Former Husker and U.S. Olympic libero Kayla Banwarth, and former Long Beach State men’s associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand are on the Husker bench this year.
• Hildebrand joined the Nebraska coaching staff as an assistant in February of 2017. Hildebrand came to Nebraska after five seasons on the coaching staff of the Long Beach State men’s volleyball program, including two seasons as associate head coach. In 2017, he was the AVCA Division I-II Men’s National Assistant Coach of the Year. A former All-American at Long Beach State, Hildebrand was the top assistant there from 2013-15 after a decorated playing career on the U.S. Men’s National Team. He is a former setter who coordinated both the offense and the blocking defense at Long Beach State at one point in his career.
• Banwarth joined the Nebraska volleyball coaching staff as an assistant in January of 2017. Banwarth completed an illustrious playing career for the Huskers in 2010 before embarking on a professional playing career that saw her win an Olympic bronze medal with the U.S. National Team, as well as an FIVB World Championship. Banwarth is relatively new to the coaching profession after finishing her professional career with the U.S. National Team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. A U.S. National Team libero since 2011, Banwarth spent two years as a volunteer assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team.