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.”

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