Huskers Open With Sweep as Two Freshmen Shine  

By Lincoln Arneal

Welcome to the Bergen Reilly and Harper Murray era of Nebraska volleyball. 

The two heralded recruits passed their opening test with solid play on the court and even handled the postgame press conference like seasoned veterans. 

Reilly and Murray kicked off their collegiate career in high fashion, leading the fifth-ranked Huskers to a 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 victory over Utah State Friday evening at the Devaney Center.

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13 Merritt Beason, 44 Maggie Mendelson

Reilly became the second-ever freshman setter to start the opening match of her career, joining Nicklin Hames, now a Husker grad assistant. Reilly finished with 26 assists, seven digs and three blocks, plus four kills on six attacks. 

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native said Cook told her earlier in the day that she would get the start. Cook told her in advance so she could prepare for her first match. Reilly said last week’s intrasquad scrimmage helped prepare her to play under the bright lights in front of 8,436 fans. 

“I think Red-White was huge for all of us,” she said. “We kind of got whatever we had inside of us out, and today it just felt like another day.”

Cook said Reilly earned the start over junior Kennedi Orr because of her serving and her improvement as a blocker. He added that she runs a good tempo, sets the middle blockers well, and he called her back sets “world-class.”

“She’s a great competitor,” Cook said. “It’s been very close, but over time she’s a couple of points better right now.”

Murray also played well in her official debut. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter recorded an ace on the first serve of her career and tied for a match-high nine kills at a .350 clip. The Ann Arbor, Michigan, native also added five blocks and an ace. 

She said her teammates helped put her at ease. 

“Of course there are some nerves – we’ve prepared for this game and this season for so long,” Murray said in a post-match TV interview. “The upperclassmen did a great job keeping our nerves under wraps. They’ve been through this two times already, and they know what it is like. So kudos to them for keeping us calm and preparing us to play.”

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13 Merritt Beason

Utah State targeted Murray with serves, making her pass 21 of their 40 attempts. She gave up three aces but performed well as the Huskers hit .286 for the match. 

The Aggies had some success early as it took NU a bit to get used to their speed and offensive attack. Cook said the Huskers made good defensive adjustments, which led to limiting USU to hitting .061 for the match. Shelby Capllonch led the way for the Aggies with nine kills. 

Transfer Merritt Beason also recorded nine kills for NU. She struggled early with four errors in the first set but only committed one in the final two. Junior Lindsay Krause also got the starting nod at outside hitter and put up six kills and two aces. Reilly led an even attack as Krause led the way with 21 attacks, and Murray and Beason totaled 20 each. 

In the middle, Bekka Allick tallied five kills on eight swings with seven blocks. Playing against her home-state school, Maggie Mendelson finished with three kills and three blocks. Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez led NU with nine digs. 

The Huskers used limited subs with just freshman Laney Choboy appearing in the back row for Krause. Cook said he plans on making some lineup changes this weekend. 

The Huskers are back in action Saturday at 5 p.m. against Lipscomb, which SMU swept on Friday. 

“I’m still not settled on the lineup, but we just told them that this is the group that was going to lead our stampede tonight,” Cook said. “We are a herd of horses stampeding toward this season, and this was the group that was going to lead the stampede tonight. We’ll mix it up a little bit tomorrow.”

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44 Maggie Mendelson
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13 Merritt Beason
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27 Harper Murray
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13 Merritt Beason
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02 Bergen Reilly

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