By Lincoln Arneal
The opposite is tasked with a lot of responsibilities. In addition to being an offensive powerhouse, she must be a proficient blocker and slow down an opponent’s best attacker.
The Huskers employed two opposites in 2022 – Whitney Lauenstein and Lindsay Krause – as part of a 6-2 system. Both helped NU field the best defense in the country and were often among the best attackers on the court.
However, with Krause returning to her more natural position on the left side, and Lauenstein departing the program, the Huskers are starting over at the position. In the second part of our positional previews, we break down NU’s attackers on the right pin.
Who is back: No one.
Who is gone: Whitney Lauenstein, 6-foot-2, left program.
Who is new: Merritt Beason, 6-4 junior, transfer from Florida; Caroline Jurevicius, freshman, 6-2, No. 17 overall prospect.
Lauenstein was a revelation last year at opposite and led the Huskers with 383.5 points, including a 25-kill performance with a .385 hitting percentage against Creighton. However, the Waverly graduate announced she was leaving the team during the offseason.
The Huskers moved quickly to fill the void, nabbing Beason from the transfer portal even before Lauenstein made her decision public. Beason was one of the biggest gets out of the portal and brings an impressive resume, making the 2022 All-SEC Team and the 2021 SEC All-Freshman Team. She was also a member of the U21 U.S. team that won the 2022 Pan American Cup while playing alongside her new NU teammates Bekka Allick and Lexi Rodriguez.
Beason averaged 3.35 kills per set with a .261 hitting percentage last season at Florida. She also was a defensive force with 200 digs and 98 blocks in 104 sets. She will likely play all six rotations, opening up more options for NU’s defense.
On top of her impressive play, Beason was named a Gator captain last season as a sophomore. Her personality and leadership style allowed her to quickly connect with her new Husker teammates, and she was named an NU captain for the upcoming season. She’s impressive, humble and is used to dealing with the media. Coach John Cook has talked about her career path to become an elementary school teacher and how her “helper” attitude carries over to volleyball.
Jurivicious has also shown positive glimpses in her first few months with the Huskers. She’s a powerful attacker and blocker who plays with an edge. She held her own in the spring match and should provide a good attack option. The No. 17 prospect likely would be an instant starter at most programs, but Jurivicious will likely provide depth for the Huskers, at least early on.
Sophomore Maggie Mendelson made a few appearances at opposite last season, but she will focus more on middle blocker this year.
While Jurivicious could play early, Beason should slot into the starting spot and keep a high production level at the right pin for the Huskers.
Next week: Middle blockers.