Huskers survive strong effort from Indiana. Challenged calls go in NU’s favor

By Lincoln Arneal

Twice Indiana appeared to have earned a chance at set point in the second set. 

That was until John Cook and his green card got involved. 

The Nebraska coach successfully challenged two late points that were overturned and helped the Huskers score the final three points of the set. 

Cook was 5-0 on replay challenges for the match, including four in the second set alone. After escaping in the second frame, the second-ranked Huskers cruised in the final two sets for a 23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-19 victory Saturday night in Bloomington. 

“I’m just glad I was able to help our team win a few (points) by pulling out the green card,” Cook said. “That and timeouts. There’s not much else to do.”

With Indiana leading 23-22 in the second set, NU junior Merritt Beason was called for a hitting error as her attack sailed out. However, the Huskers on the court signaled for a touch, and Cook played the green card. The overturned call tied up the set. 

On the next rally, IU outside hitter Morgan Geddes was credited with a kill, but again, Cook challenged the call. Nebraska (13-0, 4-0 Big Ten) was awarded the point after officials ruled the attack went outside the antenna. Then, Harper Murray closed out the set with a kill.

The perfect review night followed a 5-1 showing on challenges at Purdue on Friday, with the one loss coming on a de facto timeout late in the fourth set. Cook credited the players, assistant coach Jaylen Reyes and the grad managers for telling him when to pull the green card. 

“Let’s just say I am batting 1.000 on the weekend,” Cook said. “I bet we broke a record for challenges.”

Cook continued his winning ways to start the third set as he turned the second point from a Purdue block to a kill from Beason. She came alive with five kills to help NU jump to a 7-2 lead. 

After dropping the second set, Indiana (12-5, 2-2) struggled to maintain its high level of play after the disappointment of letting it get away. The Hoosiers hit .283 in the first two sets but .046 in the final two.

“They were on fire the first two games,” Cook said. “If we don’t win that second game, it might have been 3-0 because they had all the momentum. They were really playing great. And then we started wearing them down a little bit in Game 3 and Game 4.”

Beason put up eight kills in the third set on her way to a career-best 22 kills, eclipsing her previous high of 21 she recorded twice last season at Florida. She finished with a .400 hitting percentage to go with 12 digs. Murray racked up 17 kills at a .368 clip. 

“Merritt was on fire, and Harper was killing balls in the red zone,” Cook said. 

Lindsay Krause started the match for the first time in 18 days but traded off playing time with Ally Batenhorst. Krause found a groove in the fourth set as she terminated on all six swings and finished with 9 kills and a .471 hitting percentage. 

Bergen Reilly recorded 53 assists as the Huskers hit .338 for the match. She also added three kills on five attacks and added a block. 

“I thought Bergen played a hell of a match,” Cook said. 

The Huskers also rotated middle blockers. Cook pulled Bekka Allick in the first set after he told the team to swing away during a timeout, and Allick tipped during the next rally. Maggie Mendelson finished with four kills, while freshman Andi Jackson added eight kills.

Despite NU recording 22 more kills than Indiana (65-43), the Hoosiers stayed close thanks to the Huskers’ struggles at the service line. Nebraska amassed 16 service errors, including seven from Murray, and just two aces. Indiana finished with three aces and seven errors.

Cook said he thought about taking Murray out, but Reyes talked him out of it. 

“Jaylen was telling me to let (Murray) keep working through it,” he said. “I think she will. She’s got a great serve. I don’t know why she struggled tonight. She wasn’t trusting it and so we’ll work on it. If she can’t do better in practice, we’ll have to sub her out.”

The Hoosiers also won the battle at the net, outblocking NU 11-2. Avery Tatum and Savannah Kjolhede paced IU with 10 kills apiece. 

Despite the struggles, Nebraska emerged from its first Big Ten road trip with a pair of wins in front of sold-out arenas. Saturday night’s crowd of 2,632 set a new Wilkinson Hall record.

Cook said they tried to prepare NU’s freshmen for the challenges of playing league matches on the road and taking everyone’s best shot. 

“I think now they understand maybe more of what it’s like playing back-to-back on the road,” he said. “It’s a great weekend to get two Ws with the way those teams are playing against us. It is a great job by our team.”

Huskers no match for No. 2 Michigan. NU avoids shutout, but Wolverines dominate from start 

By Steve Beideck 

LINCOLN – Michigan scored on seven of its first eight drives on Saturday – with six of those going for touchdowns – as the No. 2-ranked Wolverines routed Nebraska 45-7. 

Uncomfortable temperatures in the 90s and Nebraska’s anemic offensive performance combined to whittle the crowd of 87,134 down to less than 20,000 by the time reserve receiver/running back Joshua Fleeks saved one of NU’s last historic streaks. 

The senior transfer from Baylor took a handoff from quarterback Heinrich Haarberg and went 74 yards through the middle of the Michigan reserves for the lone Nebraska touchdown with 4:17 remaining in the game. 

The run ensured Nebraska’s scoring streak increased to 344 games. The last time Nebraska was shut out was on Sept. 21, 1996, when the Huskers were ranked No. 1 before falling 19-0 to Arizona State on Sept. 21, 1996, in Tempe.

The Sun Devils, who also ended Nebraska’s 26-game winning streak, finished that season 11-1 and won the Pac-10 championship. They were ranked No. 2 before losing the 1997 Rose Bowl 20-17 to No. 4 Ohio State. 

Michigan (5-0) is in the process of putting together a similar season – if not better – and dominated NU from the start. 

NU’s defense had shown considerable improvement during the season’s first four games, but that streak of top-notch performances ended abruptly against the Wolverines. 

Nebraska had given up less than 60 yards rushing per game during its 2-2 start. Five minutes into Saturday’s game, the Wolverines were halfway to 60 with 30 yards on seven carries on their opening drive – an 11-play, 75-yard masterpiece that ended 5:40 after the opening kickoff. 

Michigan went past the 60-yard standard on its second drive with a 20-yard TD run by Kalel Mullings with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. That drive started deep in Nebraska territory after the first pass of the game by 

Nebraska quarterback Heinrich Haarberg turned into an interception.

Wolverines edge rusher Braiden McGregor tipped the ball, and 6-foot-3, 339-pound defensive lineman Kenneth Grant grabbed and secured it at the Husker 29-yard line. Three plays later Mullings ripped through the middle of the Nebraska line for 20 yards to put Michigan ahead 14-0. 

Any hope of a Nebraska rally was quashed in the second quarter as Michigan scored two more touchdowns before intermission. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy followed the same path as Mullings – through the middle of the NU line out of the shotgun – for a 21-yard touchdown run that increased the Wolverine lead to 21-0. 

Michigan then turned a muffed punt into a 30-yard return that gave the Wolverines the ball at their own 45. Eight plays later and with just 23 seconds remaining before halftime, McCarthy found his No. 1 target – receiver Roman Wilson – on the left side for a 16-yard touchdown. 

The Wolverines added another touchdown in the third quarter and 10 more points in the fourth quarter. Blake Corum had a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:58 remaining in the third. James Turner, who also made all six extra-point kicks, made a 30-yard field goal 43 seconds into the final frame.

Third-string quarterback Jayden Denegal finished off a 13-play, 63-yard drive with an 8-yard TD pass to Peyton O’Leary with 4:37 remaining in the game. 

Fleeks then took off on his 74-yard TD run to help the Huskers avoid the shutout. 

Despite not playing the last 20 minutes, McCarthy finished with 156 yards passing, completing 12 of his 16 attempts, including two touchdowns. The Heisman candidate also had 30 yards rushing on two carries. 

Corum led Michigan’s backs with 74 yards on 16 carries, and Wilson was the Wolverines’ leading receiver with 58 yards on four receptions. 

Haarberg was 14 of 25 passing for 199 yards and one interception. Fleeks was Nebraska’s leading rusher with that one touch for 74 yards in the fourth quarter. Anthony Grant was the only other NU back to finish with a double digit yardage total – 16 yards on six carries. 

The Wolverines outgained Nebraska 436-305, with 249 of those coming via the running game. That rushing total is more than the Huskers’ first four opponents combined. Michigan had 26 first downs to Nebraska’s 10, the Wolverines had 74 plays compared to Nebraska’s 46, and

they also converted eight of their 13 third-down opportunities. 

Nebraska (2-3) has a short week to prepare for its next game on Friday at 7 p.m. at Illinois. That game is scheduled to be broadcast on FS1. The Huskers then will have a bye week before their Homecoming game Oct. 21 against Northwestern.

Huskers survive five-setter at Purdue. Next Stop: Saturday at Indiana

By Lincoln Arneal

In a battle of two of the best freshmen in the country, Harper Murray had the last word. 

The Nebraska outside hitter, the No. 1 2023 recruit by, recorded a career-high 21 kills at Purdue, including four kills over the final six rallies, to go with 10 digs. 

Meanwhile, Purdue’s Chloe Chicoine, who PrepDig labeled as the top recruit in the nation, finished with 18 kills on a .359 hitting percentage.

Murray tallied six kills in the decisive set to help the second-ranked Huskers earn a 23-25, 25-22, 25-18, 19-25, 15-12 victory Friday night over the No. 17 Boilermakers at sold-out Holloway Gymnasium in West Lafayette, Indiana.

It was Nebraska’s fifth win over a ranked team in its last five matches.

Murray tallied six kills in the decisive set to help the second-ranked Huskers earn a 23-25, 25-22, 25-18, 19-25, 15-12 victory Friday night at Holloway Gymnasium in West Lafayette, Indiana.

“As the match went on, we got better, and then we got to Game 5, and this is what you see in the Big Ten,” NU coach John Cook said on his postgame radio show. “You got to win matches like this. We found a way to win.”

Cook said he thought Chicoine played her best match of the season. She terminated from all corners of the court and kept the NU defense on its toes. 

“Chloe was very effective on the back row, which normally we can shut that down and dig it, but we didn’t do a very good job on her tonight,” he said.

Purdue controlled the action early and only trailed 6-5 in the opening set. After winning the first set, the Boilermakers appeared to be on the verge of taking the second with a 19-15 lead

Purdue controlled the action early and only trailed 6-5 in the opening set. After winning the first set, the 17th-ranked Boilermakers appeared to be on the verge of taking the second with a 19-15 lead. 

However, the Huskers came alive, sparked by Murray and sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick. NU went on a 9-2 run to pull out the set as Murray recorded three kills late and Allick added two kills and three blocks, including one with Murray. 

Allick finished with nine kills on a .500 hitting percentage to go with eight blocks, including four solo stuffs. 

“I didn’t realize she had that many blocks, but she brings energy. She loves to compete,” Cook said. “She had a great match here last year too. And so she must like this gym.”

The Huskers (12-0, 3-0) took control in the middle of the third set as it turned a 9-6 deficit into a 21-14 lead behind long service runs from Laney Choboy (4-0 run), Bergen Reilly (4-0) and Murray (6-0). 

Nebraska looked poised to close out the match in the fourth set with a 19-16 lead, but the Boilermakers stayed alive and scored the final nine points to force a fifth set. 

Chicoine didn’t record a kill in the fourth set, but sophomore Eva Hudson stepped up. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year tallied five of her team-high 19 kills during the set. 

The Boilermakers (8-4, 2-1 Big Ten) hit .229 for the match. Lourdes Myers added nine kills, and Raven Colvin finished with seven kills and eight errors to go with seven blocks. 

After giving up the first two points of the fifth set, NU responded by jumping out to an 8-4 lead. Purdue recorded three blocks in the set to keep it close before Murray took over late. 

“We haven’t been in a five-gamer. This is good for us,” Cook said. “We definitely got punched in the mouth several times tonight. And sometimes we responded but we responded when it mattered most.”

One of the critical calls of the game came after Murray made it 13-10. Purdue challenged the call, saying the ball was wide, but the initial call was upheld. That was one of 10 replay reviews during the match. Cook went 5-1 on challenges, with the one he lost acting as a de facto timeout late in the fourth set. Purdue coach Dave Shondell went 2-2 on green card reviews. 

“That had to be a record for green cards,” Cook said. “The biggest one was Harper’s hit, and it was close. It was really close. That was a big play. I thought it was good, but you never know those dang cameras.”

Andi Jackson added 12 kills on 25 attacks to go with seven blocks. Lindsay Krause replaced Ally Batenhorst in the first set and finished with eight kills and a .412 hitting percentage. 

Choboy led Nebraska with 13 digs, while Reilly added 12 digs, 54 assists and five kills. The Boilermakers tried to take Lexi Rodriguez out of the game by hitting away from her. The junior libero finished with just six digs but added six assists.

While NU won the blocking battle 15-12, Purdue libero Maddie Schermerhorn recorded 19 digs. Murray said she was impressed with the Boilermakers’ defense. 

“We knew coming into this game that they’re a scrappy team,” Murray said during a television interview. “Our game plan was to kill balls and make them work and that’s what we did. But they also scrapped just as much as us.”

The Huskers won’t have much time to celebrate the victory as they play at Indiana on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Hoosiers also played Friday and earned a sweep over Iowa to improve to 12-4 on the season. 

“This is life in the Big Ten,” Cook said. “We’ve been talking about back-to-back and I said, ‘We’re at halftime right now. That’s just the first half. The second half is tomorrow night, and we’re going to have to rally, recover and all the things we talked about and come out and play another great match tomorrow night.’”

Husker softball team building quality depth: Jordy Bahl shines in Thursday scrimmage, but so do others 

By Steve Beideck 

LINCOLN – Following several spirited weeks of drills and competition among teammates fighting for the same goals, the Nebraska softball team is ready to see some new faces in the opposing dugout. 

Thursday marked the team’s final intrasquad scrimmage of the fall season. Exhibition games against other Division I opponents begin Sunday when Nebraska-Omaha travels to Lincoln for a 12:30 p.m. test at Bowlin Stadium. After a pair of games Oct. 7 in Kansas City against Missouri-Kansas City and South Dakota State, the Huskers return to Lincoln to face Creighton on Oct. 8. 

In Thursday’s intrasquad game, the Scarlet scored a 4-3, come-from-behind victory over the Cream before a crowd of about 250 people at Bowlin Stadium.

Freshmen pitchers Emmerson Cope and Caitlin Olensky kept the game scoreless through three innings. That pitching duel left NU coach Rhonda Revelle beaming. 

“What was so cool tonight was that we started both freshmen,” Revelle said. “They just went after each other, and they kept putting up zeroes, and I thought that was awesome. The offense kept adjusting, and we had a couple of big hits. 

“I just thought it was a good softball game.” 

The game revealed the kind of depth, not just at pitcher but many other positions, that Revelle hoped would develop from all the work her charges were putting in throughout September. 

“I’ve learned that we have some real depth at several positions, which is really nice,” Revelle said. “You know we’re banged up, but it’s still been very competitive.” 

Not only was Cope effective in the circle, she again was a force at the plate. The 5-foot-11 right-hander from Topeka, Kansas, hit a 2-run home run to center field in the top of the fourth inning for the Cream that also plated junior catcher Ava Bredwell, who laced a one-out single to center.

For Cope, it was her second home run in three games. Bredwell, a junior from Shawnee, Kansas, also finished the three scrimmages with a pair of round-trippers. 

“Emerson Cope, you’ve seen her hit two home runs,” Revelle said. “The ball gets out in a hurry. We knew that. That hasn’t surprised me.” 

Then there’s Jordy Bahl. The heralded Oklahoma transfer and Papillion-La Vista graduate hit .400 in the three scrimmages and added an RBI triple to her fall totals that got the Scarlet within 2-1. 

Bahl then scored on a wild pitch, getting her foot on the left corner of the plate to avoid the tag, tying the game 2-2. She then came in to pitch the final three innings and allowed no earned runs and struck out three. 

Bredwell generated the most offense over the three games, going 6-of-9 with five runs scored. She ripped a double down the left field line on Thursday and scored on an infield out to put the Cream back in front 4-3. 

The Scarlet scored the tying and winning run in the bottom of the sixth with two outs. Sophomore Ashley Smetter out of Lincoln Southwest worked a walk out of Sarah Harness, a Bowling Green, Missouri, product, before Purdue transfer and Millard West graduate Bella Bacon belted a home run to center field put the Scarlet back in front 4-3. 

Bahl, who played left field the first four innings, closed out the game with two strikeouts and getting the final out on a foul ball flyout to left. 

Revelle has some tough decisions to make on a starting lineup before filling out the lineup card Sunday for the UNO exhibition. “It’s not going to be my most fun moment of the fall to write a lineup Sunday because you’re going to leave some people on the bench who have been performing pretty well,” Revelle said. “Somebody else is doing it a little bit better.”

Jordan in the Gym. Transition to Coaching for Larson ‘Seamless’

By Lincoln Arneal

Lindsay Krause turned 6-years-old when Jordan Larson wrapped up her career at Nebraska. 

The junior outside hitter has few memories of watching the three-time All-American play. Still, she’s fully aware of Larson’s impact and the multiple Olympic medals she’s won and is eager to soak up her knowledge. 

Larson returned to Nebraska this week as the Huskers’ newest full-time coach. She joined the team after helping the United States secure a spot in the Paris 2024 Games. 

Krause, who grew up in Omaha, said having another fellow Nebrakan on the coaching staff with an impressive resume is cool. 

“It’s just something that’s so special to realize that the culture of Nebraska volleyball hasn’t appeared in the last five or 10 years,” Krause said. “It’s been here since Jordan played and since everybody in the ’90s and ’80s played.”

Since she was named an assistant coach in June, Larson hasn’t spent much time in Lincoln as her training and national team schedule has taken her all over the world. Larson practiced with them for 10 days after her professional season ended and before the Huskers’ Brazil trip. She was also in camp for a few days and stopped by the gym whenever she was in Lincoln. 

Despite not being around the players much during the summer, Larson has worked hard to start building relationships with the players through text messages, Zoom calls and notes in the Volleymetrics software. 

“I’m in their back pocket, and I’m an asset for them in any capacity,” Larson said. “It is really important for them to know that. They can call anytime and without judgment, and I’m here to help. I’m really grateful for that and some time spent in the gym already and it’s again made this transition really seamless.”

Larson will coach the pin hitters, helping them attack and pass in the back row. She said one of the lessons she’s trying to impart is that passing is just as much mental as physical. 

Krause is listening.

“I personally have been working on being very quiet with my serve receive because sometimes there can be a lot of extra movement,” Krause said. “Even just getting to watch her pass on video has been something that’s helped me a lot.”

Larson would communicate with the hitters about once a week after she would watch practice or marches. She would send notes to them and also set goals. Despite all her accomplishments, she’s just “Jordan” in the practice gym. 

“We call our assistant coaches by their first name, and then coach (John Cook) is just Coach,” Krause said. 

Now that she doesn’t have to rely on technology to communicate, Cook said he’s enjoyed having Larson in practice the past few days, and the gym has a different vibe. 

While they are still sorting through the specifics of her role and making space for her office, Cook is glad to have a former Husker helping coach and use her experience to his advantage.

“Jordan says to me ‘Less is more.’ She tries to keep it simple. She’s trying to figure out her little spots,” he said on his weekly radio show. “You look over and Jordan Larson is in our gym. What can I learn from her today? She’s seen it all.”

For now, Larson is just sticking to coaching as she allows her body to recover from the Olympic qualifying tournament, where the U.S. played seven matches in nine days. The Americans won their first five matches before falling to Poland with a chance to punch their ticket to Paris but responded the next day with a four-set win over Germany. 

“To now have this sense of peace that we’ve put in the work, and now we just get to build and get ready for Paris next year, is really, really huge,” Larson said. 

After clinching the berth, Larson faced a long journey back to Nebraska. She didn’t sleep following the match and flew from Warsaw, Poland, to Munich, Germany. After missing a connection, Larson eventually made it to Chicago before returning to Nebraska on Monday. She was at Nebraska’s practice on Tuesday. 

Eventually, Larson will begin lifting weights in a couple of weeks before starting to train again to prepare for another professional season next year that will help gear her up to play in next summer’s Olympics. 

“I just love the sport so much and it’s given me so much. I joked with one of my mentors, she talks about living on house money and I really feel like I am,” Larson said. “I feel so blessed to be able to still play and then coach at the same time. I’m just living on house money every day and not taking it for granted because it could disappear in an instant.”

100 Percent

Krause said she is fully healed after being rear-ended in her car two weeks ago. 

She missed several practices while recovering, and that allowed her time to take a step back. While the events were frustrating because everything was out of her control, Krause said she gained a new perspective on the team while on the sidelines. 

While she’s willing to help in any way possible, Krause said she appreciated how much energy she could contribute to the game by cheering and being involved from the bench. 

“I’m kind of a weirdo so I feel like it was really fun to get to have that perspective,” she said. “It was really great to be a great teammate in any way I could.

Hoosier Road Trip

The second-ranked Huskers will play their first two Big Ten road games this weekend. They play at No. 17 Purdue on Friday before going to Indiana on Saturday. 

Purdue will be NU’s fifth straight match against a rated team and features two of the top young outside hitters in the league. Eva Hudson, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and freshman Chloe Chicoine, the No. 2 prospect according to, account for almost two-thirds of the Boilermakers’ attacks. 

“You pretty much know where it’s going,” Cook said. “These guys are good, though. They get a lot of swings. Everything goes to them; it’s front row back row, too.”

Indiana posted one of its best nonconfernece seasons under sixth-year coach Steve Aird. While some of the Hoosiers’ momentum was stifled last weekend by a sweep from No. 1 Wisconsin, they still pose a challenge. 

Cook was complimentary of junior setter Camryn Haworth, who was named to the preseason all-Big Ten team. 

“They’ve got a great setter who’s doing a really good job, three jump servers and they’ve got good attackers in every position,” Cook said. “They’re the most improved team in the conference, in my opinion.”

Staying at Devaney

Cook had a quick answer on if there was any chance they’d move next month’s match against No. 1 Wisconsin to the bigger Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

“No,” he said on the weekly radio show. 

He hasn’t asked the basketball staff if he could use the court and won’t entertain changing venues to get a larger crowd. 

“We play in Devaney,” Cook said. 

Familiar Face Joins Huskers. Cook: ‘She’s Got Experiences None Of Us Have’

By Lincoln Arneal

The Nebraska volleyball gym is getting an Olympic-level boost. 

A few days after helping the United States national team qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, 2020 gold medalist Jordan Larson joined the Huskers in person as an assistant coach on Tuesday. 

NU coach John Cook said he was fired up to add Larson to his staff full-time. They announced the move in early June. However, she’s spent most of her time playing and training with the national team since then. Cook said Larson’s vast accomplishments, insights and desire to help the Huskers will benefit everyone in the program. 

“That energy is contagious and I’m excited to be around somebody that’s really passionate about Nebraska volleyball,” he said. “It’s just going to help build our energy, build our culture, all those things and she’s got a lot of wisdom to tap into. She’s got experiences none of us have.”

While she hasn’t been doing a lot of hands-on coaching, Cook said Larson’s role as the elder statesman with the national team will help her adjust back to the sidelines. 

Even though she started working with NU players and coaches during the summer, all the work was done remotely through Zoom or Volleymetrics. Larson participated in recruiting calls and worked with the outside hitters, leaving digital notes on the film. 

Cook didn’t know how he planned to utilize Larson – they were slated to talk on Tuesday after media availability – and make her feel comfortable, but he was excited to add her to the staff. 

“This is gonna be a work in progress, how to incorporate her back in,” he said. “The good news is she’s been staying in touch via Zoom wherever she’s been in the world, so the players have a connection with her.”

Outside Battle

Cook said outside hitter Lindsay Krause is back to 100 percent following a car accident almost two weeks ago. The 6-foot-4 junior did not suit up for the Kentucky match, but while Krause was dressed for the opening weekend of Big Ten games, she did not play. 

In Krause’s place, junior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst started the matches against Ohio State and Minnesota. She contributed in different ways during the first two league matches. Against the Buckeyes, she recorded a career-high seven blocks but hit negative for the match. Cook said she was on the receiving end of “some tough sets.”  

“She put on a blocking clinic like I’ve never seen from a left-side blocker, so that was huge, even though she didn’t hit very well,” he said.  

Against Minnesota, Batenhorst put up 12 kills on a .333 hitting percentage and didn’t commit a hitting error until midway through the third set. Cook also praised her passing.

Now, with both Kraue and the 6-5 Batenhorst healthy and available, playing time will be determined by practice performance. 

“Those guys are competing, as are some other positions,” Cook said. 

Sell-out Crowds

The second-ranked Huskers will take their first Big Ten road trip this weekend playing in front of sellout crowds at Purdue and Indiana. 

While the Huskers have played matches against ranked competition, they haven’t played matches in front of too many hostile crowds with just two road matches.

Cook said his job this week is to prepare the team to play tough competition in rowdy environments. 

The best point of comparison the Huskers have is their sweep against Kansas State in front of 3,044 fans in the Morgan Family Arena. That should give the Huskers a taste of what is to come playing in Purdue’s Holloway Gymnasium, which has a capacity of 2,288, and IUs’ Wilkinson Hall, which seats more than 3,000.

“Kansas State gave us the best feel for that because we’re actually playing in two small gyms like K-State,” he said. “That worked out well for us. We’ve already got experience doing that so we can refer back to that and it’s just getting them the mindset of going on the road.”

Huskers move to 2-0 in Big Ten with sweep of No. 12 Minnesota. NU Defense Leads Way Again.

By Lincoln Arneal

Playing in her second Big Ten match, Harper Murray showed no signs of wilting on the big stage. 

Late in each set against No. 12 Minnesota, the freshman outside hitter stepped to the end line and delivered tough serves that lead to critical points. 

Behind Murray’s serving and several other clutch plays, the No. 2 Huskers (11-0, 2-0 Big Ten) earned their fourth-straight win over a ranked opponent this season with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 sweep Sunday evening in front of 8,591 fans at the Devaney Center.

NU coach John Cook said several systems were built to help make Nebraska a strong mental team in order to deal with the anxiety-inducing moments. Cook said he’s impressed with the Huskers’ mental toughness, especially with most of the team navigating their first trip through the Big Ten. 

“A lot of people, when things get tough, they’ll go internal. They’ll start having negative self-talk,” Cook said. “We have some things we’ve been working on since the beginning of the season and in the summer. How do we not go there? It’s really easy to go there, especially when teams are stressing you and things aren’t going your way.”

In the first set, Murray toed the line with the score tied at 22-all and delivered two tough serves with each resulting in a point. She  added a back-row kill on the second one for good measure. 

She served during a 5-0 run in the second set, which turned a 16-14 lead into a comfortable advantage. Murray later added two kills down the stretch. Then she added an ace to cap off a 3-0 burst late in the third set that gave NU the lead for good at 21-20. 

Murray finished with a match-high 13 kills to go with eight digs. 

Cook said while she might worry about her hitting and passing numbers, he is trying to get Murray to embrace her role as an essential server for the Huskers. She’s usually the second NU player to serve each match after setter Bergen Reilly, increasing her opportunities to impact the match.

“We’ve been working really hard on her serve,” Cook said. “She really trusted it and did a good job and ran a bunch of points.”

Junior opposite Merritt Beason also came through late. She scuffled through the first two sets, amassing five kills and five errors. In the third set, she delivered six kills.

She had a kill from each pin before Murray’s ace. Then, with NU clinging to a 23-22 lead, Ally Batenhorst shanked a serve receive from Minnesota, Murray saved it with a high over-the-head pass and Beason buried the attack. 

Beason finished with 11 kills, 10 digs and two solo blocks, including one on McKenna Wucherer to break a 22-all tie in the first set. 

Cook said Beason made a couple of poor decisions attacking early in the match, but she settled down and used a few tips the coaches gave her to regroup and rise to the moment.  

“She had a couple of really great kills in that (third) game three that we really needed,” Cook said. “She really bailed us out. It’s a big step for her. That’s the most she’s struggled probably this season, and she pulled herself out.”

Batenhorst finished with nine kills on a .333 hitting percentage and didn’t commit an error until midway through the third set. The junior outside hitter mixed up her attacks and found the floor with her power, hitting off the block and mixing in roll shots. 

Batenhorst said she uses the roll shot when she can see the court and spots a hole in the defense or if the set is slightly behind her. 

“It’s awesome,” she said about scoring off roll shots. “It’s kind of more of a chill point, rather than like a big kill, but it’s successful, and it’s always good to get points.”

Reilly led the offense with 39 assists with two kills, eight digs and a team-high four blocks, including several on jousts. 

Andi Jackson added seven kills at a .357 clip, while Bekka Allick finished with five.

The Gophers hit .159 for the match, led by 11 kills from Wucherer. Taylor Landfair, last year’s Big Ten Player of the Year, finished with just seven kills on 24 attacks. 

Senior opposite Lydia Grote also totaled seven kills. U of M libero Kylie Murr finished with more attempted sets (14) than digs (11) in the match. 

Minnesota (5-5, 1-1) heavily relied on its pin hitters as its middle combined for just three kills on 15 attacks. 

Jackson said it was tough in the middle to keep up with the block because she was covering so much ground running pin-to-pin. 

NU finished with just seven blocks on the night, two fewer than the Gophers, but still made the U of M hitters work for points. Jackson said the key was to stay calm under stress and wait for the play to develop. 

“It’s tough because if they do run that B-go, you’re wanting to jump with the middle, but you just have to stay calm, read the setter,” she said. “It’s the only thing you can do, and then just great footwork and great eye work.”

While the block wasn’t as effective as usual for the Huskers, their floor defense covered. NU outdug Minnesota 52-36, including 17-7 in the second set. 

“That’s how we win is our defense,” Cook said. “I didn’t realize it was that big of a discrepancy. That’s a great job defensively by us.”

After slow start, Huskers power past Louisiana Tech Haarberg, Grant lead pounding NU ground game 

By Steve Beideck 

LINCOLN – Going with the tried-and-true offensive formation that Nebraska all but trademarked in its glory years helped show the way Saturday for a hard-fought victory over Louisiana Tech. 

After being stymied most of the first half by the feisty Bulldogs, the Huskers (2-2) went with power running out of the I-formation to break free from a 7-7 halftime tie on the way to a 28-14 win at Memorial Stadium that thanks to a 55-minute rain delay ended with a score that made the game appear closer than it was. 

Officially, 87,115 fans showed up, but only about 15,000-20,000 were there after the second-half delay that started with NU up 28-7 and in full control in the fourth quarter. 

Lightning strikes recorded within eight miles of the 100-year-old stadium forced the delay, clearing the stadium of fans and sending both teams to their locker rooms. 

By then quarterback Heinrich Haarberg and running back Anthony Grant had taken over the game offensively for the Huskers, who finished with 419 total yards on 66 plays.

After the delay, Louisiana Tech began its 10th drive of the game and scored an all but meaningless touchdown to make the final score 28-14. 

Haarberg, the Kearney Catholic graduate who was making his second start, led all players with 157 yards rushing on 19 attempts. That total included a 72-yard TD run with 11:13 remaining in the fourth quarter that sealed the Husker win. 

Those 157 yards are the most by a Nebraska quarterback since Adrian Martinez had 157 yards against Rutgers in 2020. Haarberg’s performance was the 18th 150-yard rushing game in school history by a quarterback. 

Grant gained 135 yards on 22 carries and scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter. The Huskers finished the game with 312 rushing yards while the Blackshirts limited the 2-3 Bulldogs to 46 rushing yards. 

The Blackshirts now have held their first four opponents to less than 60 yards rushing. The last time the Huskers held four straight opponents under 60 yards on the ground in the same season was during the first four games of 1999. That’s also the last time the Huskers won a conference championship. 

Until its final 54 seconds, the first quarter had all the excitement of a log-sawing competition with the two teams combining for just 99 yards of offense on 30 plays for an average of 3.3 yards per play. 

Things got better for Nebraska on the first play of its third drive when Haarberg moved to his left and turned an option keeper into a career-long carry of 43 yards down the west sideline.

A pair of rushing plays by Grant totaling 11 yards got the Huskers to the Louisiana Tech 25 before the end of the scoreless first quarter. 

Grant opened the second quarter with an 8-yard run, but the Bulldog defense hung consecutive 1-yard losses on the Huskers, setting up a fourth-and-4 from the Louisiana Tech 19. 

Nebraska lined up for a 37-yard field goal, but went into its bag of tricks with holder Timmy Bleekrode hustling up the middle for 10 yards and a first down. 

Two plays later, receiver Billy Kemp went the final nine yards around left end for Nebraska’s first touchdown with 11:31 remaining in the second quarter. 

The Bulldogs tied the game with 6:07 remaining in the half. Freshman running back Jacob Fields went 14 yards around left end, shedding one tackle and reaching paydirt for the second touchdown of his career. 

Nebraska missed a chance to take the lead going into halftime when a 41-yard field goal attempt by Tristan Alvano slid wide left, keeping the score an uncomfortable 7-7 at intermission. 

With an emphasis on power running, the uneasiness disappeared quickly in the second half even as two long Husker runs that would have produced touchdowns were called back by penalties. Still, NU scored three touchdowns that did count.

The first came on the opening drive of the third quarter. It was a nine-play, 85-yard march that ended with Grant’s 2-yard TD run through the right side of the line. 

All the plays came out of the I-formation as Husker blockers overpowered the Bulldogs defense. Grant had runs of 14, 34, 7 and 19 yards in the drive, and the Huskers overcame two fumbles, including one on the opening kickoff by Tommi Hill that he recovered himself. 

Nebraska started its third scoring drive in the final minutes of the third quarter and scored a touchdown on the first play of the fourth. Again, primarily out of the I-formation, Grant carried twice, and after the Bulldogs were hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Haarberg hit tight end Thomas Fidone on the left side of the field for a 29-yard touchdown pass, making it 21-7. 

Fidone, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound sophomore, jumped to snare the pass with his fingertips and then evaded a pair of Louisiana Tech defenders to reach the end zone. The grab made Fidone the first Husker tight end to have a receiving touchdown in three consecutive games since Mike McNeill accomplished that feat in the final three games of the 2008 season. 

Haarberg put the game out of reach on NU’s next drive. Following runs of 7 and 3 yards by Grant, Haarberg went to his left on an option keeper out of the I and ran away from Bulldogs defenders for 72 yards. 

Louisiana Tech’s final touchdown came after the weather delay on a 20-yard pass from Jack Turner to Cyrus Allen for 20 yards with 5:17 remaining. The Bulldogs had another drive into Nebraska territory with

time ticking away that ended in a tipped-ball interception by NU’s Isaac Gifford. 

Nebraska hosts No. 2 Michigan Sept. 30 at 2:30 p.m. The game is scheduled to be televised nationally by Fox.

Huskers make quick work of No. 21 Ohio State. Minnesota Up Next at Devaney On Sunday

By Lincoln Arneal

Nebraska’s game plan was simple – stress Ohio State with its serve and make Emily Londot work as much as possible for kills. 

The second-ranked Huskers succeeded on all accounts for a 25-14, 25-16, 25-21 sweep Friday night over No. 21 OSU to kick off the Big Ten season. 

NU kept the Buckeyes out of system as they hit .090 for the match, a season low, and limited Londot to single-digit kills for the first time this season with nine on 33 attacks.

“Our team came out really well prepared, was really on the game plan and very focused tonight,” NU coach John Cook said. “The first two games, we put a lot of pressure on Ohio State and controlled the match.”

The Huskers (10-0) began the match with a block party, jumping out to a 12-3 advantage behind four stuffs. Junior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst earned her second straight start in place of the injured Lindsay Krause and put up five stuff blocks in the first set, four of which were in partnership with freshman middle blocker Andi Jackson. 

Batenhorst finished with a career-high seven blocks, while Jackson and Bekka Allick were each in on five. 

Of Londot’s eight attacking errors, four came via NU blocks. Cook said NU’s goal was to put as many hands as possible in front of the senior opposite and take away her favorite shots. 

“We did a really good job of that,” he said. “She got a couple of kills we couldn’t do anything about but for the most part we did a really good job of taking away her tendency and forcing her to hit a shot maybe she didn’t want to hit.”

On offense, the Huskers could do little wrong early in the match. Junior opposite Merritt Beason added back-to-back aces in the first set as NU set the tone with its serving. The Huskers didn’t have an error in 24 serves in the first set. 

The attackers took over the second set as the Huskers recorded 17 kills with just one error for a .516 hitting percentage. Beason led NU with 14 kills at a .467 clip, while freshman outside hitter Harper Murray added 11 kills. 

The Huskers finished with an attacking percentage of .333, their fifth-straight match over .300. Freshman setter Bergen Reilly, who tallied 37 assists, said the key is the trust she’s developed with her hitters, knowing they are going to be ready to swing away every single rally. 

“Getting the middles up for every single play regardless (of the pass) has helped to open a lot of things up for the pins and then obviously get the middles kills,” Reilly said. 

Allick recorded eight kills on a .467 hitting percentage, while Jackson added six kills on 10 errorless swings. 

NU faced some adversity to start the third set as the Buckeyes (3-7) won three of the first four points. NU took its first lead at 11-10, but OSU eventually tied it up at 17-all. However, NU responded by taking four of the next five rallies. 

The third set has been the Huskers’ trouble spot, as the only three sets they’ve dropped have come when they are trying to close out the sweep. 

Allick said Laney Choboy helped keep NU focused in the third set after the slow start. The freshman defensive specialist, who returned to action after missing one game because of concussion protocol, told the rest of the team that she hoped Ohio State was making adjustments to avoid the sweep and what they had done to win the first two sets might not work anymore. 

“As Coach always says the great teams adjust and that has been our weakness in the third set,” Allick said. “Laney made a great point. She’s like, ‘I hope they would adjust if they’re down two sets or they’re just going to get swept and sent home.’ We talked a lot about adjusting, just playing it cool, and not getting outside of ourselves, and I think that’s what we did tonight.”

Rylee Rader was the only OSU attack with consistent success on the night as she terminated six of her 12 attacks. 

The Huskers opened their Big Ten schedule with another record crowd as 8,711 fans set a new Devaney Center mark. NU will take on another ranked opponent Sunday, hosting No. 12 Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. 

Allick said she is ready for another challenge in league play. 

“I understand the value of every game and each opponent,” she said. “You really can’t overlook anyone in the Big Ten. You never know how it’s going to add up in the end. Because in the Big Ten, we don’t get to play a tournament. It’s all built based on wins and losses, so every game has got to be our best game.”

Deep Huskers staying involved as Buckeyes come to town. “Game-Changers” Ready for Big Ten Opener.

By Lincoln Arneal

No matter how much talent Nebraska has on its roster, it can only play six players at a time.

So after signing several recruiting classes in a row stacked with elite prospects, NU coach John Cook faced the dilemma of managing playing time. He must field the most competitive lineup while keeping those on the bench engaged and ready for whatever opportunities arise. 

As a result Cook and the players decided on the label of “game-changers” for the bench players. No matter if a player gets hurt or someone is having a tough night, everyone must be ready to contribute.  

“At some point, we’re going to need you, and you got to be thinking you’re going to come in and be a game-changer, as opposed to come in and just play,” he said. “You gotta be a game-changer, and I’ve got a whole bunch of them that can do that.”

Cook said everyone saw a glimpse of the team’s talent before the season started in what he called the most competitive Red-White scrimmage. 

“We got 14 players that could play,” he said. 

After the first weekend, the No. 2 Huskers have used almost the same starting lineup for each subsequent match. NU may need more help from its bench during the Big Ten opener against No. 21 Ohio State on Friday night at the Devaney Center. 

Defensive specialist Laney Choboy and outside hitter Lindsay Krause didn’t play against Kentucky on Sunday, but they both participated in practice on Wednesday. Cook was optimistic about Choboy playing this weekend but less sure about Krause. 

Against the Wildcats, junior Ally Batenhorst earned the start and delivered 12 kills. Sophomore Maisie Boesigner joined the back row, providing defense and serving in the place of Choboy. The Norris graduate finished with six digs and an ace. 

Boesiger said the mantra of game-changers stems from the belief in each other. The players support everyone no matter who is on the court. 

“I think that’s something that’s really special about this team because it’s not a selfish team,” she said. “Everyone’s really excited and happy to cheer for one another and believe in each other – that really helps us be successful overall.”

Batenhorst said she knew for a few days ahead of the match that she would start, which allowed her to prepare for the increased playing time. The 6-foot-5 outside hitter said her goal was to play with energy and use her experience to impact the match. 

“That’s something I’ve really taken to heart,” she said. “Whenever it’s my turn, I’m gonna go out there and give it all I have for the team.”

The Huskers are not just focused on making an impact in the absence of others, but to seek other opportunities as well. Junior setter Kennedi Orr embraced the role of serving specialist after not playing in the first six matches. 

In addition to taking advantage of opportunities, Boesiger said the team also talks about going into the game and “ripping off the hinges.” 

“Whenever an opportunity comes your way, you’re ready and you’re not going to be timid or back down or shy from anything,” she said. “You just want to go in, attack it to the best of your ability and rip the hinges off.”

Junior opposite Merritt Beason said the matches reflect what the team sees while training with each other every day. She wasn’t surprised to see Orr, Batenhorst or Boesiger thrive when given a chance to prove themselves. 

“They do that every single day in practice,” she said. “I was just very happy for them – happy that they got a chance to show Husker Nation what they do in the gym every single day.”

New Look OSU

The Buckeyes return to Lincoln a much different team than a year ago. Ohio State lost four players to the transfer portal as fifth-year seniors. 

Four freshmen – setter Mia Tuman, outside hitter Lauren Murphy, outside hitter Grace Egan and middle blocker Eloise Brandewie – have received significant playing time as OSU has searched for the right combination of players. 

However, the Buckeyes still have their headliner – opposite Emily Londot. The 6-foot-3 senior is averaging 4.86 kills per set. She has taken 413 swings in OSU’s 35 sets, 237 more attacks than the second most on the team. 

Beason said NU’s game plan will be to make life as difficult as possible for Londot and senior middle blocker Rylee Rader, but they won’t take the Buckeyes lightly, even as they come in on a six-match losing streak.

“They’re a great team, and they’ve done a lot of really good things the last few years,” Beason said. “We’re going in there like it’s a national championship match the same way we’re approaching every single match.”

The Longest Rally

Boesiger said during film review, the Huskers were amazed at everything that occurred during the 72-second rally in the fourth set against Kentucky. She said the rally captured their fight and how they were willing to do anything to keep the ball from hitting the floor.

“That rally was awesome,” she said. “It was crazy and it just kept going.”

On Tuesday, Cook joked that NU might have to run a few more wind sprints after all the players were exhausted and out of breath following the play. However, according to Boesiger, that threat didn’t come true in their first two practices of the week.

“We were like, ‘Hey, we won all the long rallies. What do you mean, we need to run more?’” she said.