Husker volleyball opens season at Indiana Friday

For the first time in 13 months, the Nebraska volleyball team will return to the court when they travel to Bloomington, Indiana this weekend for a pair of matches against the Hoosiers.
Husker Volleyball Relieved To Know Season Start Date

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN/Nebraska Athletics) — For the first time in 13 months, the Nebraska volleyball team will return to the court when they travel to Bloomington, Indiana this weekend for a pair of matches against the Hoosiers. The fifth-ranked Huskers will serve it up at Wilkinson Hall at 5 p.m. CT on both Friday and Saturday.

This weekend’s matches will not be televised. However, they will be streamed on BTNPlus.com (subscription necessary). Husker Sports Network will broadcast all the Husker action on HSN radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and the Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 27th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.

Series History
• Nebraska is 17-1 all-time against Indiana and has won 17 straight matches in the series since dropping a 2-0 decision in 1978. The Huskers beat the Hoosiers 3-1 (22-25, 25-13, 25-16, 25-14) in Bloomington last year on Oct. 25. Lauren Stivrins had 17 kills on .394 hitting in the match.

Coaches
• John Cook: 21st year at Nebraska (588-81); 28th year overall (749-154)
• Steve Aird: 3rd year at Indiana (30-34); 7th year overall (85-108)

Video Previews

Road to Omaha: A look back at previous Final Fours in the Cornhusker State

Brent Wagner of the Lincoln Journal Star breaks down the upcoming season

Lexi Sun ready to shine for the Big Red

About the Huskers
• Nebraska returns every starter from last year’s 28-5 squad that reached the NCAA Regional Final against eventual national runner-up Wisconsin.
• Senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins and senior outside hitter Lexi Sun were AVCA All-Americans and All-Big Ten First-Team selections in 2019. Junior setter Nicklin Hames was also an All-Big Ten First-Team choice in 2019. Stivrins and Hames will return to captain the Huskers for a second straight season.
• Senior opposite hitter Jazz Sweet, senior defensive specialist Hayley Densberger and junior middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach also provide veteran experience for the Huskers. Sweet was a member of the Madison Regional All-Tournament Team last year after 12 kills and a .345 hitting percentage against Hawaii in the NCAA regional semifinal.
• Sophomore outside hitter Madi Kubik was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2019 and, along with sophomore libero Kenzie Knuckles, was a member of the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
• The Huskers added four newcomers during the offseason, including junior Missouri transfer Kayla Caffey. The middle blocker ranked ninth nationally with a .408 hitting percentage during the 2019 season. She joins three freshmen who are new to the program: middle blocker Kalynn Meyer, setter Anni Evans and defensive specialist Keonilei Akana.
• Sophomore setter Nicole Drewnick has opted out of the 2020-21 season. The Dallas, Texas native played in 29 matches as a freshman, primarily as a serving sub.

Scouting Indiana
• The Hoosiers went 14-19 overall last year and 3-17 in the Big Ten to finish 13th. Indiana was picked 11th in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll released on Wednesday.
• Indiana graduated seven seniors from its 2019 team and has eight freshmen on this year’s squad. Third-year coach Steve Aird will rely on junior outside hitter Breana Edwards, who averaged a team-best 3.47 kills per set in 2019.

Huskers Ranked No. 5 in AVCA Coaches Preseason Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 5 in the AVCA Coaches Preseason Poll.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 100 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history. The Huskers held the No. 1 ranking this season the week of Sept. 16.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 503 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 559 AVCA Coaches Polls it has been eligible for since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every eligible poll all-time.

Three Huskers Named to Preseason All-Big Ten Team
• Nebraska volleyball seniors Lauren Stivrins and Lexi Sun were voted to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team by the league’s 14 head coaches. The coaches also tabbed the Huskers as the No. 3 team in the Big Ten Preseason Poll behind Wisconsin and Minnesota.
• Stivrins is a two-time AVCA All-American and two-time All-Big Ten First-Team selection. She posted 2.55 kills per set, 1.07 blocks per set and a team-best .374 hitting percentage in 2019. The senior middle blocker led the Huskers to a .152 opponent hitting percentage as a junior, which ranked eighth in the nation. The Scottsdale, Arizona native also served nine aces and was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection a year ago. She led the Huskers to an eighth straight NCAA Regional Final appearance and became the 32nd Husker all-time to earn multiple AVCA All-America honors in a career.
• Sun earned her first ever All-America accolade in 2019 after leading the Huskers with 3.57 kills per set with 2.45 digs per set and 25 service aces. The native of Encinitas, California posted double-digit kills in 18 of 20 Big Ten matches and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection for the first time. She had 10 double-doubles as a junior, second-most on the team. Sun, a senior outside hitter, received AVCA All-America honorable mention as a freshman at Texas in 2017 before transferring to Nebraska.
• Defending Big Ten champion and NCAA runner-up Wisconsin was the unanimous choice by the coaches as the top team in the Big Ten Preseason Poll. Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue rounded out the top five teams.

Kubik and Knuckles Set to Build on Strong Freshman Campaigns
• Sophomore outside hitter Madi Kubik earned Nebraska’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor and first conference freshman of the year in 2019 since Hannah Werth won the award in 2009 in the Big 12. Kubik averaged 2.73 kills and 2.52 digs per set in her first year as a Husker. She ranked fourth among Big Ten freshmen in kills (2.96 per set) and digs (2.51 per set) in conference play. The outside hitter was also named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the All-Freshman Team. Kubik was the first Husker freshman to be named to an All-Big Ten team since Kadie Rolfzen in 2013.
• Sophomore libero Kenzie Knuckles also earned All-Freshman Team accolades after leading the Huskers with 3.71 digs per set in her first year as the Huskers’ libero. Knuckles served 20 aces and was a Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week during the season, helping the Huskers lead all Big Ten teams with a .156 opponent hitting percentage in conference play.

Record Watch
• Senior opposite hitter Jazz Sweet and middle blocker Lauren Stivrins are both closing in on 1,000 career kills. Sweet enters the 2020-21 season with 902 career kills, and Stivrins owns 877. They would join Lexi Sun, who enters the year with 1,089 career kills, in the 1,000 kills club.
• Stivrins has established herself as one of the most efficient hitters in Nebraska volleyball history. She has a .369 career hitting percentage, which ranks fifth all-time in school history and second since the rally scoring era began in 2001.
• Junior setter Nicklin Hames enters the season with 2,690 career assists and will enter the top 10 in school history once she reaches 2,861 (Rachel Holloway, 2006-07).
• Junior middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach is averaging 1.23 blocks per set halfway through her Husker career. That is the third-best blocks per set average by a Husker since the rally scoring era began in 2001.

AVCA Hall of Fame Head Coach John Cook in 21st Season at Nebraska
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 21st season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2020-21. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, nine final fours, 12 conference championships and 18 top-10 final rankings since 2000.
• Cook has 749 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 .879 win percentage in that time (588-81).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 57 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 seven-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017, his first and second Big Ten honors with the Huskers in their Big Ten era (2011-present).
• 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 was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2017, joining former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall.
• Cook became the ninth active Division I head coach to reach 700 career wins in 2018.

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports