Two Good Setters, One Starting Spot: Huskers Have Until Fall To Name A Starter

By Lincoln Arneal

CENTRAL CITY — There is no rivalry at the setter position for Nebraska. In fact, Kennedi Orr and Bergen Reilly might be each other’s biggest fans. 

However, after the Huskers ran a 6-2 system last season, NU coach John Cook is poised to return to a one-setter offense this year. That means either Orr, a junior, or newcomer Reilly will be relegated to a reserve role. 

That decision will be put off until August.

For now, both are acquitting themselves well. On Saturday during Nebraska’s sweep over Wichita State in the Huskers’ lone public exhibition during the spring, Orr finished with 15 assists in the first set guiding the Huskers to a .256 hitting percentage. Reilly played the final two sets and recorded 28 assists as NU hit .352. 

After the match, both spoke glowingly of each other. 

“I think she’s one of the smartest players we have here,” Orr said of Reilly. “So I think that’s super helpful. Just (listening to) her talking about offense is really crazy to listen to since she’s 17. We’re just kind of the best friends. That’s what happens when you go out for setters (warmup) 30 minutes before every practice and grinding extra time every day.”

And Reilly on Orr: “She welcomed me with open arms, and we obviously push each other. We push each other to get better and we’re competing against each other but we’re such good friends off the court.”

Cook said both setters struggled to settle in initially on Saturday but handled the quick tempo well. 

“When it all clicks, it looks really good. It’s hard to defend,” Cook said. “They both had a really good spring. They’re competing. It’s going to be a battle.”

Last year, Orr struggled to rebound after surgery knocked her out of the beach season. She appeared in 17 matches and averaged 5.11 assists per set. She sat out beach season this spring and worked individually with Cook and assistant coach Kelly Hunter. 

Orr said she focused on simplifying everything and rebuilt her setting from footwork to hand placement. She struggled at times last year with double contacts but wasn’t called for any in the match against the Shockers. 

“In college volleyball, you kind of get thrown in, and they expect you to do things. After my surgery, I don’t know if I really have those basics anymore,” Orr said. “Just going back and getting the fundamentals down was super helpful.”

The decision to stick with Reilly instead of bringing back Orr in the third set might have been more related to health reasons than performance. Cook said one of the benefits of a closed scrimmage last week was that players could take more time between sets to loosen up. So without the possibility of an extended warmup, Cook opted to play it safe with Orr, who has undergone two knee surgeries in the past three years. 

Reilly lived up to the hype as one of the best recruits in the nation, which included an appearance with the United States senior national team for a tournament last fall. 

Cook said Reilly has an excellent feel for the game and other intangibles. 

“The great ones have things you can’t coach,” he said. “She’s got a lot of work to do, but she’s just got great instincts. She just knows when to set things at the right time.”

Against the Shockers, Reilly connected with her middles well, including fellow freshman Andi Jackson, who went off for seven kills in the third set. Even though she began the match in the unusual spot on the bench, Reilly said she liked the ability to scout what Wichita State was doing defensively and how she wanted to attack it. 

“Honestly, it was pretty good for me,” she said of the bench time. “I could figure out what I wanted to do when I got in. So it was good to see that, feel out the crowd, feel out the gym and everything and just ease into it a little.”

TAKING CENTER STAGE — After group photos, TV interviews and post-match hugs, Merritt Beason didn’t need an introduction as she talked to the fans. But she gave one anyway. 

Beason, a junior opposite who transferred from Florida, thanked the Central City fans for all their support for the sold-out spring match. 

“Hi, everyone. My name is Merritt Beason,” she said. “You guys have given us the warmest welcome, and you went above and beyond. We cannot thank you enough for that. We are excited for the fall and we know we have a lot to work on. This team is really excited to get back to work and we can’t wait to show you what we are all about in the fall.”

Even though the public address announcer said team captains would address the crowd, Cook clarified they have not yet elected leaders – that will happen during the team’s Brazil trip next month. However, Beason was chosen to speak for the team to the fans. Cook said Beason, who plans to be an elementary school teacher, has embraced the role, even unofficially. 

While she might have been a little nervous playing her first game in a Nebraska uniform, Beason finished with a solid stat line of five kills, four digs and an ace.

“She has definitely stepped up as somebody who wants to lead,” Cook said.

The Huskers have a leadership void after losing two of last year’s captains – Kenzie Knuckles and Madi Kubik – and Nicklin Hames, who was elected team captain for three seasons. This spring, Cook has offered optional leadership seminars that the whole team has attended. 

Beason has emerged as a unifying voice even amongst a team with several big personalities. 

Bekka Allick said Beason has a different leadership style than her. The junior middle blocker said she prefers to push people out of their comfort zone, while Beason is a “lover” and uses kindness to guide others. 

“She’s the kind of person that’s gonna love you through that type of situation with gentleness, but at the same time, what she’s saying is true, and it’s right and she’s not going to sugarcoat it,” Allick said. “Her motherly kind of love is what she has to offer to the team. She speaks for all of us, and not one of us wasn’t heard from whenever she speaks on our behalf. She’s a beautiful person from the inside and out and I think she brings a lot to this team.”

COWBOY COOK — When Cook emerged from the locker room, he drew a big cheer from the crowd. The 2,096 fans were glad to see the coach, but they were also excited about his outfit. 

Gone was his usual attire of a button-up shirt and dress pants. Instead, Cook wore an Adidas polo, Wrangler jeans, his commemorative 800th victory belt buckle and boots. The boots were custom-made by Russ Saunders, who owns The Leather Shack in Central City, as payment for a speaking arrangement a few years ago. 

Cook said the initial plan for the weekend was to be at a branding in western Nebraska, but when football moved its spring game to April 22 and pushed volleyball back a week, he thought he would keep the spirit of the activity alive.

“People in Nebraska west of Lincoln love this. Love it,” Cook said. “I just wanted to show them respect.”

The look got positive reviews from the players. Orr said she had only seen him in jeans during a team outing with the UNL rodeo team to practice roping. 

“Oh, I loved it,” Orr said. “I told him that when he walked out and said, ‘Coach, you look great.’”  

Said Allick: “I’m all about boots and blue jeans. So I think he looks so good.” 

MORE WORK TO DO — Even though the official end of spring practice came with Saturday’s scrimmage, the Huskers will stay plenty busy. 

NU coaches can still work with the players next week on skill development, and then the players will take a break for dead week and finals. Then, they will return to the gym on May 20 to prepare for the Brazil trip from May 29-June 14. 

Cook said the quadrennial foreign trip comes at a valuable time because it allows his players to develop chemistry and challenge themselves in matches against the U19 and U21 Brazil national teams and the Brazil women’s military team.

“We need the work,” he said. ”This gives us a great opportunity, and the fact that we don’t have any seniors. We’ve got a full roster. We’re not waiting for freshmen to come in. So it’s an ideal time to do that. So we’re really, really excited about that.”

Husker Newcomers Shine In Spring Match

By Lincoln Arneal

CENTRAL CITY — Harper Murray will return to Michigan for her senior prom in a few weeks. 

But on Saturday in Nebraska’s spring match in Central City, the Husker freshman outside hitter was the belle of the ball. 

Murray displayed exceptional athleticism, big swings and solid passing in her Husker debut finishing with a match-high 12 kills and a .391 hitting percentage. Behind solid play from Murray and five other newcomers, NU swept Wichita State 25-20, 25-21, 25-21 in front of 2,096 fans in a sold-out Bison Activity Dome. 

Murray, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, said she’s been looking forward to the match since she enrolled early at Nebraska in January. 

“There is still a little bit of nerves, you know, it’s my first game technically,” Murray said. “But I thought having all the upperclassmen with me who’ve been in that situation before really helped calm me down, so credit to them for being so confident and helping all of us through it.”

Murray, who was named the top recruit in the nation by this month, only played the first two sets but earned the start in her first public outing with the Huskers. 

While her hitting stole the show in the Huskers’ only public spring match, NU coach John Cook said he went with Murray because of her back-row play. 

“She’s been performing at a high level very consistently, and she’s been passing well,” he said. “If you’re going to play six rotations, you got to be able to pass and she’s done a great job managing all the skills and you can see she can get some big kills.”

Murray was not the only freshman who left a positive impression in her unofficial debut. Bergen Reilly set the final two frames and tallied 28 assists as she helped NU hit .352 during her time on the court. 

Middle blocker Andi Jackson only played the third set but finished with seven kills on eight swings with a block. Opposite Caroline Jurevicious amassed three kills and two blocks in the third set. 

Defensive specialist Laney Choboy made one of the plays of the game when she laid out to save a ball from going off the court. Setter Kennedi Orr then sent a freeball over, and NU recorded a block to end the rally. 

“The freshmen came in and it was never like they acted like freshmen,” said Orr, now a junior. “They just came right in, they wanted a spot and they wanted to work hard. They wanted to be here, so yeah, I would say that the dynamic of the gym is everyone wants to play, we want to compete and we want to win.”

Cook said the challenge for the freshmen is to refine their skills so they don’t rely on talent only but make the proper plays. For instance, he said teammates sometimes shut Jackson down in spring practices because they knew the shots she would hit. The challenge going forward for all the freshmen is being more creative and consistent. 

“Not relying just on athletic ability, but just learning how to be really good volleyball players and do it every day,” Cook said. “That’s been the biggest jump they’ve made and I’ve challenged some of them on that.”

Another newcomer, junior Florida transfer Merritt Beason, also made an impact. She racked up five kills and four digs and was selected by teammates to address the standing-room-only crowd following the match.

Cook said Beason was a little nervous for the match and struggled early with a couple of hitting errors early in the first set. 

“She’s played in some big matches, but again, the first time you play in this environment and play for Nebraska, she was trying a little hard tonight and finally got herself down a little bit and she did great,” Cook said. “She’s a great addition to our program.”

While the newbies made an impression, the returnees also showed out well for the Huskers. 

Sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick racked up eight kills on 10 errorless swings to go with six blocks. Junior Lindsay Krause started the game as an outside hitter and finished with four kills and three aces in two sets of action. Ally Batenhorst played the final set and notched five kills at a .364 clip. Orr amassed 15 assists in the first set. 

Sophomore Maggie Mendelson added three kills and a block, while classmate Hayden Kubik also tallied a kill. 

Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez led the Huskers with 12 digs, while Choboy added seven. 

Wichita State was led by 10 kills from junior outside hitter Barbara Koehler. Senior setter Izzi Strand added seven kills, 23 assists and 10 digs. 

The game marked another sellout for the Huskers’ spring game outside its home arena. 

The players talked glowingly about the reception they received from the community both on Friday and during the match. Fans started to line up at the doors at 11 a.m. Some fans used the morning to tailgate and others waited in their cars. 

“Obviously, there’s no place like Nebraska and it was just super cool that we finally got to experience that,” Reilly said. “All the freshmen coming in and Merritt, it’s just an unreal place and we couldn’t have had a better spring game.”

Orr said she felt like a celebrity when she had to run out to the bus to get her warm-up shirt and make her way through the lines. When she came out 75 minutes before the match for setter warm ups, the gym was already packed. 

“You have to be grateful because when you walk out, everyone’s clapping and cheering you on,” she said. “You got to take that moment and just run with it and be super grateful for the people that are cheering you on and not take it as pressure.”

After the match, players signed autographs for more than two hours after the final point as almost everyone in attendance lined up to get volleyballs, programs and posters signed. 

Cook said he was impressed with Central City’s new facility, which was completed last fall. He said the locker rooms were nicer than some of the ones they use during Big Ten play. 

“This felt like it’s a Final Four in a way, just with the gifts, everything we went to and how it was all set up,” Cook said. “The court was great, the venue was great. I think everybody had a great seat tonight. … It just had a really big-time feeling.”

Husker Volleyball Set To Storm Central City

By Lincoln Arneal

More than 2,000 fans packed into a high school gym. Sellouts that happen in less than an hour. The entire state focused on an exhibition where the results mean nothing. 

This is what Harper Murray signed up for in the world of Nebraska volleyball. 

Murray and the Huskers will travel to Central City to play its lone public match of the spring season Saturday at the 2,100 Bison Activity Dome. 

“We knew coming in how the fan base was and how supportive everybody was,” Murray said. “The coaches and all the former players have done a really good job welcoming all of us. So it was a really easy transition for us, and we’re excited to go out there and play.”

The Huskers will take on Wichita State at 2 p.m. in the first monolithic dome in the state, which also doubles as an EMA-rated tornado shelter. The community replaced the gym near the elementary school with a $7.7 million dome, which was built with the help of a federal grant. The dome was completed late last year. 

Fans in Central City are eager to welcome Nebraska to their hometown. Tickets were only sold in person on April 10, and people began lining up the night before. The event sold out in less than an hour. It will also be televised on Nebraska Public Media and B1G+. 

The event continues the tradition of the Huskers playing their spring match around the state. NU has gone to Grand Island, McCook, Kearney, Norfolk, Ogallala and Wayne in the past decade. 

“I’m just excited to go out there and see my cowboy friends,” NU coach John Cook said. “It’s gonna feel like a big-time event. These have been really special matches when we get to go to these towns and the way they appreciate it and the way they treat us. That to me, is the highlight of this. It just means a lot, so that’s what’s really cool.”

On the court, Cook said he would treat the match like a regular competition. He said he would determine a starting lineup late in the week. He said he would try to get all the players into the match if he could. 

On the other side, the Shockers return all the key players from a team that went 18-13 last year, finishing in fourth place in the American Athletic Conference standings. They lost in the first round of the NIVC to Grand Canyon.

In a closed scrimmage against Creighton last week, the Huskers used two different units switching out between sets. He said the challenge for Saturday’s match is keeping players warm on the bench. 

The one position change for the Huskers this spring is Lindsay Krause working full-time as an outside hitter. The 6-foot-4 junior primarily played on the right side the last two seasons but made a few appearances at the left pin. She is battling for playing time with junior Ally Batenhorst, sophomore Hayden Kubik and Murray. 

“I made the commitment to her, a promise (to play) on the left,” Cook said. “She’s going to do some really nice things, but they all can. Every day one of them stands out and it’s not like one stood out the whole spring. It’s a great competition.”

Nebraska is working to integrate six newcomers into its lineup, including five early enrollees and transfer Merritt Beason. Those players have injected more energy into practice and competition at every position as they fight for playing time. 

Murray said she is super excited for the match and will allow them to build trust and confidence in each other, even if they are a little nervous. 

“It’s a lot of our first game, and there are a lot of new people on the team,” Murray said. “Saturday is going to be a great match. So it’s good to see new faces and to see a new type of play.”

More Than 82,000 Tickets Sold for Volleyball Day In Nebraska

By Lincoln Arneal

When Nebraska announced its intention to play a volleyball match in Memorial Stadium, the intention was to take back the single-match record for attendance. 

It turns out NU set its sights too low. 

The public snatched up all available tickets as Nebraska announced that the event was a sell-out, with more than 82,900 tickets sold Thursday afternoon for its match against Omaha on Aug. 30. Nebraska-Kearney and Wayne State will play the opener that afternoon. That number does not include field-level seating or indoor club seating.

Wisconsin currently holds the NCAA regular-season record, attracting 16,833 fans for a match against Florida last September at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Badgers’ record erased the previous mark set by Nebraska and Creighton nine days earlier when 15,797 fans watched the instate rivals play at the CHI Health Center in Omaha. 

“I’ve never seen a reaction like a stadium match because I just think it’s so unique,” NU coach John Cook said Tuesday. “I think this is an event that everybody wants to say, ‘Hey, I was there.’”

However, with more than four times that many tickets already sold, the Volleyball Day celebration could be one of the most attended women’s athletic events ever. 

The current record for a women’s event was set in March 2022, when Barcelona hosted Real Madrid for a UEFA Women’s Champions League match that drew 91,553 at Camp Nou. No. 2 on the list is the 1999 World Cup final (90,185) between the United States and China in 1999. 

It might be difficult to reach those marks, but the volleyball match could reach the top five events, which currently include a match between Australia and India at the 2020 Cricket World Cup (86,174 in Melbourne), the 2012 Olympic soccer gold medal match (80,203 in London) and a 2019 soccer friendly between England and Germany (77,768 in London). 

Season ticket holders purchased 17,900 tickets on Tuesday before they were made available to the public Wednesday at 10 a.m. The initial allotment was gone in less than an hour, and the NU Ticket Office opened up the rest of the stadium. 


Only limited-view seats were left by Wednesday night, and all of those were sold by 6:40 a.m. on Thursday. Later that day, students claimed on-field standing-room-only tickets. 

A concert is also scheduled after the volleyball matches, but NU has not announced who the musical artist will be. 

“It’s really exciting,” Cook said. “We want to make it a volleyball day of celebration. It’s great. Nebraska is trying to do some special things here, and our fans are the best and they want to be a part of it.”

Seven of the eight largest attendance figures for any volleyball match, and 12 of the top 14, featured Nebraska in the national championship match or national semifinals. The 2021 NCAA title match between Nebraska and Wisconsin drew the biggest crowd to watch a college volleyball match with 18,755 fans at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Attracting more than 80,000 for a single match is unheard of in college volleyball. Only four teams drew more than that figure for the entire 2022 season. Nebraska (155,618) and Wisconsin (139,701) were the only schools that attracted six figures. Third place Hawaii saw 89,450 total fans at its 15 home matches, and Minnesota had a total attendance of 80,886 at 17 home contests.

Cook Likes the Competitive Fire From His Team

By Lincoln Arneal

The stands were empty, the scores didn’t matter and plenty of kinks were still being worked out. 

But don’t try to tell that the scrimmage against Creighton last Friday didn’t matter to members of the Nebraska volleyball team. Before the first competition this spring against a different team, NU coach John Cook said a couple of the freshmen lost their breath.

“These guys get really fired up,” Cook said on Tuesday. “We gotta learn how to control that a little bit, but it’s fun to see that because they’re just so fired up to play.” 

Even Harper Murray, who was named the top recruit in the nation by, got caught up in the moment. 

“Maybe a little bit,” Murray said when asked if she was one of the freshmen struggling to breathe before the scrimmage. “I’m still getting used to those big moments, but I think overall, I think we played really well as a team.”

The scrimmage came together last minute thanks to a calendar quirk that gave the Huskers an extra week of practice after spring break. Nebraska split its roster into two complete teams and swapped them between sets. Murray said she was glad the Huskers pulled out a victory. 

While spring scrimmages can be a mixed bag because of an incomplete roster, Cook said he was impressed with Creighton’s lineup and said both teams competed at a high level. In addition, the competitive fire he sees daily in practice carried over to the scrimmage. 

“I would pay to watch these practices,” he said. “These practices are awesome.”

Murray said the scrimmage featured a lot of learning moments. They are still figuring out how to play together and building trust and confidence in each other. 

Murray said she’s also grown a lot during her first months of college volleyball. She enjoyed adjusting during the beach season and learning from her partner, junior Merritt Beason. One lesson she’s learned is how to deal with the mental side of the game and try not to get in her head too much and play more consistently. 

“Merritt was a great beach partner for me,” Murray said. “She’s a very calm and a competent person. I think that she was one of the people that’s helped me give grace to myself. I’m very lucky that I have her on the court with me because she’s a very good teammate and a good leader.”

SET ON ONE SETTER — Cook said the Huskers have not practiced any 6-2 offense this spring. 

Last year, NU ran almost exclusively a two-setter system with Nicklin Hames, Anni Evans and Kennedi Orr splitting time running the offense. With Hames out of eligibility and Evans set to transfer to San Diego, Orr is taking turns with freshman Bergen Reilly at setter. 

Cook said he hasn’t figured out how they will divide up playing time Saturday against Wichita State. 

“They’re competing this week, so we’ll see,” he said. “The last two days, we go tomorrow and then we’ll decide the starting lineup.”

Cook said he planned to designate a top group and then try to get everyone else into the match.

LEADERS STEPPING UP — After several consecutive miscues in practice, Beason asked Cook if they could have a moment to regroup. 

Players from both sides of the net circled up and talked amongst themselves. After the break, the Huskers played much more sharply and focused on the drill. 

While the Huskers have not announced their captains or leadership structure yet, he’s been offering optional leadership workshops every week. 

“I think everybody has shown up,” he said. “So obviously, they’re interested in learning how to be leaders and growing in that area.”

AWARD SEASON — The Nebraska athletic department hosted its annual award banquet on Sunday night with several volleyball players earning awards. 

Evans earned the Outstanding Scholar Award for having a GPA higher than 3.9 and graduating in May. She also won the Elite 90 award in 2021 for the highest GPA amongst the Final Four teams. 

Hames won the Heart and Soul award for her volunteerism and leadership, while Bekka Allick was named one of 27 recipients of the Sam Foltz Hero Leadership Award.

BRISK SALES — Tickets went on sale Tuesday for the Aug. 30 Volleyball Day matches in Memorial Stadium to season ticket holders and volleyball alums, and the response was strong. 

While sales numbers were unavailable, reports of busy phone lines and an overwhelmed website were common on the first day of availability. 

The public can purchase tickets starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Newcomers Bringing Energy to NU Volleyball Workouts

By Lincoln Arneal

The Devaney Center gym was filled with yells, cheers and lots of banter as Nebraska volleyball players battled during drills on Monday. 

Moments after Caroline Jurevicius slammed home a kill, Andi Jackson blocked another attack. Then Laney Choboy delivered a diving dig to set up a point. 

All three are newcomers and part of the group making an impact in their first spring with the Huskers with an injection of energy, athleticism and competition. It only takes a few seconds of listening to an NU volleyball practice to tell that it is a different type of team as it began its fourth week of spring practice on Monday.

Even with six newcomers, the camaraderie is tight among the 14 players. 

“It’s a very, very live group, as you can tell,” sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick said. “There’s a lot of friendly smack-talking going on. It’s a very, very feisty group.”

All five incoming freshmen enrolled early and are joined by junior opposite Merritt Beason, a transfer from Florida. The Huskers added a new player at each position, creating competition for playing time at each spot. 

Beason said the position battles and everyone pushing each other every day stood out to her. 

“How hard those girls go each and every day and the coaches – how hard they push us – it’s been really cool to see and to be a part of,” she said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a challenge, but it was something that I noticed from the start that I was like, ‘Wow, this is really special.’”

After one of the most successful beach seasons in program history, the Huskers transitioned to indoor quickly after spring break. Maggie Mendelson joined the group a week after taking a few days off following the end of the women’s basketball season on March 23. 

Because of the academic calendar and the late spring exhibition, the Huskers can practice for six weeks this year, one more than in previous springs. 

With so many newcomers, Cook said discussing priorities for the upcoming season will wait. Instead, NU is focusing on terminology and installing practice drills right now.

Beason said having so many new players has made it easy to mesh with everyone since almost everyone has a learning curve. 

“There have been lots of things that we’ve had to learn really, really fast, but all of the girls that have been here were really welcoming and open,” she said. “They’ve welcomed us with open arms, so they’ve made the transition really easy.”

Beason has integrated seamlessly with the team. She is rooming with junior Lindsay Krause and enjoyed connecting with teammates during the Hawaii trip. The 6-foot-3 opposite has already made an impact as Cook asked her to design the logo for NU’s Brazil trip. 

Some of the returners are experiencing new roles as well. Allick said she’s had to transition to being the veteran middle blocker. Even though she’s just a sophomore, she’s the most experienced player at the position after starting 29 matches last season. 

Allick said she is impressed with Jackson and doesn’t think that starting is too far out of her future. When Jackson has questions during practice, she turns to the Waverly product for help. 

“On the first day, she was like, ‘Bekka, I’m gonna follow you.’ I was like, ‘Oh, crap.’ I’m used to usually being the follower and I never really had to think about that,” Allick said. “Knowing that someone is watching my moves, what I’m doing in practice, and how I talk to coaches and things like that, that’s what she’s going to assume is a standard. So being that older sister figure is new.”

NU lost four players to graduation, plus setter Anni Evans, who transferred to San Diego during the offseason. So even though the Huskers return multiple key contributors from last year’s team, which went 26-6 and exited the NCAA tournament in the regional semifinals, they are left with a young team. 

Not only do they not have any seniors, none of the players have turned 21. Cook said they are a curious group and want to learn as much as possible. The one thing Cook hasn’t had to worry about is challenging them to bring energy to the gym daily. 

“They’re not bashful,” he said. “They don’t care how old they are or who’s ahead of them. They’re competing. They want to play. … The game doesn’t know how old you are.”

Huskers Prepare for Match against WSU

By Lincoln Arneal

To no surprise, tickets for the spring match in Central City sold out in less than an hour Monday morning.

With tickets only available for in-person purchase in Central City, fans began lining up around 8 p.m. Sunday, 12 hours before sales started. The seats sold out in 38 minutes, and then 14 minutes later, all the standing-room-only tickets were gone.

The Huskers will play Wichita State on April 29 at the newly constructed Bison Dome, which can hold around 2,100 fans.

Head coach John Cook said Central City had talked to Nebraska for four years while constructing the first monolithic dome in the state, which also doubles as an EMA-rated tornado shelter.

“It’s a pride for the community and I think by Nebraska volleyball or any of our Nebraska teams coming out there and playing it just kind of validates,” he said. “This is a big deal.”

ORR MAKING PROGRESS — Kennedi Orr has received plenty of attention this spring. While the rest of her teammates participated in beach volleyball, the junior setter worked out with Cook and assistant coach Kelly Hunter.

After undergoing a minor procedure on her knee last year, she traveled to Hawaii with the rest of the team during spring break. While there, they found a gym through a connection with assistant coach Jaylen Reyes and worked out.

Cook said he saw “major” progress from Orr during the spring.

“We trained the heck out of her,” Cook said. “She got a lot of individual attention. We worked really hard, and she worked really hard…  Life is good for Kennedy Orr.”

RETURNING SOON — Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez and Beason each missed portions of practice on Monday.

Rodriguez was wearing street clothes on Monday and said on her social media that she suffered a concussion last week after taking an attack to the head. Beason sat out the second half of practice after feeling under the weather.

Cook said he expected both of them back on Tuesday.

“These are just little things that if it was fall, they wouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “But since it is just spring, we don’t push through some of these things.”

STRONG RESPONSE — Whether he’s on the speaking circuit or out recruiting, the most common topic that people ask Cook about during the last month has been Nebraska’s outdoor match scheduled for Memorial Stadium in August.

“It’s unreal. I mean, there’s people going to come in from all over the world for this thing,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Cook said he expects the stadium to sell out when tickets go on sale on April 25. He doesn’t know what the capacity will be with the court and concert setup, but he expects a strong response.

Allick said people also talk to her about the match when she’s out. One of her friends on the soccer team was asked about it because she was wearing Huskers clothing.

Beason said she was impressed with the response. While she’s always been involved with volleyball, it’s at a different level in Nebraska compared to growing up in Alabama.

“For me, it’s been really cool just to see how big volleyball is up here,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to come here was how big and how important volleyball is. It blows my mind to think about it.”