By Lincoln Arneal
Lindsay Krause was minding her business checking out at Trader Joe’s on her day off when her phone buzzed.
“Congratulations!” read the message from an old club coach.
Momentarily confused, Krause was unaware she was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. When she realized what the text was for, she said it was a special moment.
“I don’t know if I was surprised. It just wasn’t on my mind at all,” Krause said. “I had no idea, and that’s why I got all emotional because that was something that’s been a big goal of mine for the last couple of years.”
The junior outside hitter recorded 24 kills on a .458 hitting percentage in wins over Michigan and Michigan State last weekend. She also tallied nine digs and three blocks. This is her second Big Ten weekly award after being named the top freshman on Sept. 27, 2021.
Krause also stayed in to serve for defensive specialist Laney Choboy this past weekend with solid results. She recorded four service aces and just four errors on 22 attempts.
NU coach John Cook said Krause has been thumping it from the service line and ran some critical points for the second-ranked Huskers. He said if she continues that level of play, it makes NU challenging to stop.
“We need to do that every week,” Cook said. “We’ve been talking about somebody’s got to kill balls, and that spot makes us a really tough team to defend. Lindsay is a warrior. She’s battling, she competes really hard and she’s doing a really good job.”
Krause said she’s been helped by having new assistant coach Jordan Larson in the gym. Larson brings a lot of insight from her extensive playing experience and a calming influence.
The award caps a roller coaster first two months of the season for the Omaha Skutt graduate. She battled for playing time with junior Ally Batenhorst. Krause also missed three matches while recovering from a sore shoulder following a car accident where she was rear-ended.
Krause said she’s learned to take everything in stride and focus only on what she can impact.
“I can’t control my stats. I can’t control if I get a kill or not. But I can control how aggressively I’m swinging at the ball, how energized I am, how much fun I’m having,” she said. “So that’s something that I’m going to control everything that I can and I’m just going to let what else happens happen.”
Maggie Mendelson’s schedule gets a little more chaotic this time of the fall. While the two-sport athlete doesn’t participate in basketball practice, she adds skill instruction with the coaches on top of volleyball practices.
She said she’s handling the balancing better this season after adapting to last year’s learning curve. Even though it was still hectic, the 6-foot-5 Mendelson balanced working volleyball camps and basketball practice on the same day.
“I feel like everybody knew what they were doing a little bit more, and it was a little bit less ‘Oh, what’s gonna happen today?’ because we kind of got a plan going in.”
While she went to Brazil in May and June with the volleyball team, she skipped out on basketball’s international trip to Greece later in the summer. She was planning a brief four-day trip, but the long flight convinced her to remain in Nebraska and prepare for the fall. However, she did experience a little FOMO.
“All the pictures, I was so jealous. I had a really fun boat day and that made me very jealous,” she said.
For now, Mendelson is doing some more conditioning to handle the extra work and she’ll stop by basketball practice, but her focus remains on volleyball.
“I’ll be their biggest fan sitting there on the bench with them,” she said. “It’s kind of sad seeing them get going and I wish I could do that with them, but I’m also excited to go as far as I can with volleyball.”
After spending the last two weekends on the road, players developed new bonds with their teammates. These trips differed from their first two road trips as they required multiple nights in hotels.
To help develop more chemistry, the Huskers mixed up roommates. Sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick said she learned that Batenhorst has a strong dislike of cucumbers.
“It’s a good opportunity to get to see girls probably not at their best,” she said. “Everyone’s wanting to be home or hanging out with their friends on the weekend. But instead, we’re out on the road and so it’s a really good opportunity just to catch each other when we’re vulnerable and get to know each other.”
Krause said road trips felt long, and going to a different hotel instead of home following a match was hard. However, she enjoyed playing in other arenas with intense atmospheres.
“I enjoy the places that we got to play the last few weekends,” she said. “They were really good environments, and Indiana and Purdue are really tough places to play. They really packed their gym and they had good crowds.”
Even though errors piled up during the four-match road trip, Cook said NU continues to improve serving.
NU amassed 15 service errors against Michigan State and 12 the next night against the Wolverines. Cook isn’t panicked about the mistakes because NU shows progress in practice. He said they went through several drills on Wednesday without missing any serves.
“It depends on the night, but that’s going to continue to get better,” Cook said. “I’m already seeing things this week that lead me to be really confident that our service is continuing to get better.”
Harper Handles Homecoming
Dozens of family and friends packed the stands last weekend to get a glimpse of Ann Arbor native Harper Murray. NU’s freshman outside hitter put on a performance for them with a team-high 12 kills against Michigan State and 13 kills at a .423 clip against Michigan.
NU coach John Cook said Murray was a little nervous before playing the Wolverines, but she settled down while playing across the net from her older sister, Kendall.
“That was a big, big deal for her,” Cook said. ”That was a moment that nobody’s ever gone through, and I’m sure it was very emotional for her sister, her and her mom. It was a special moment.”
Allick said she enjoyed seeing a different version of Murray and learning more about her off the court. She said Murray had tears in her eyes as she boarded the bus to leave the arena.
“It really just shows that this game is a lot bigger than just a sport,” Allick said. “I’m more than just a teammate. I was a friend that night as well. Just getting to see her play in front of her home crowd, and she was just excited – there’s nothing more heartwarming than seeing people back with their folks.”