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.”
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 PrepVolleyball.com, 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.