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.”

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. 

Next Step for No. 2 Huskers: Big Ten Play. Cook: ‘We Got To Get Off To A Good Start This Week’

By Lincoln Arneal

Next Step for No. 2 Huskers: Big Ten Play

Cook: ‘We Got to Get off to a Good Start This Week’

By Lincoln Arneal

When John Cook looked at the Big Ten standings this week, all that registered was that his team was 0-0. 

It mattered little to the Nebraska coach that his team had navigated the nonconference schedule undefeated for the first time since 2016. He’s wiped the slate clean and is focused on the task ahead. 

The Huskers start Big Ten play on Friday, hosting Ohio State at the Devaney Center. 

“We have three seasons: nonconference, Big Ten and the postseason,” Cook said. “We got to get off to a good start this week.”

The schedule also gives NU a chance to return to the gym. It does not have a mid-week match for the first time since the season began. The trip to Stanford last week also took a lot out of the players since they didn’t return to campus until 4 a.m. the next day. 

Cook said the break allows for more intense practices and an opportunity to focus on themselves. With matches every couple of days, the Huskers have spent a lot of time on scouting reports and the next opponent. 

“I feel like we haven’t really hardly trained at all the last couple of weeks,” he said. “These midweek matches really, really messed you up. You’re just trying to maintain and survive and now I’ve been spending all day just working on us.”

Cook said one of the biggest challenges will be playing matches on consecutive nights, which it has only done the first weekend of the season. Next weekend, the Huskers play at Indiana the day after facing Purdue. Then, the following weekend, NU makes a road trip through Michigan and Michigan State on Friday and Saturday evenings. 

The other big difference will be the environment in which they play. While the competition was tough against Stanford, Cook compared it to playing at a country club because of the lack of intensity from the crowd. 

The Huskers played in front of a loud, sold-out arena at Kansas State, which Cook said will be similar to what they face during league play. However, he said some players enjoy the challenge. Junior Merritt Beason said she likes to try to silence a hostile crowd on the road. 

“It’s the challenge of the travel and playing back-to-back some weekends,” Cook said. “It’s a 10-week grind. I keep saying, I think it’s harder to win a Big Ten championship than a national championship because you got to grind over 10 weeks.”

Back in Action

Cook said he expected freshman defensive specialist Laney Choboy to return to practice on Tuesday. He hoped junior outside hitter Lindsay Krause would also return but was less sure about her availability. 

Neither played in Sunday’s match against Kentucky. Choboy was recovering from an on-court collision during the Stanford match last Tuesday. 

Krause was involved in a hit-and-run car accident on Wednesday when her car was rear-ended while driving on O Street in Lincoln. She suffered an injury to her left, non-hitting shoulder and tried to go through drills on Sunday but only lasted 10 minutes. 

Cook said he has communicated with the Lincoln Police Department about the reckless driving on the main thoroughfare in Lincoln. He thanked them for their efforts and said they told him they were working on it. 

Shopping Therapy

Cook said he can usually tell how his team is doing by how fans interact with him when he goes shopping at Hy-Vee on 50th and O streets. When he went shopping on Monday, he said fans were still buzzing about Volleyball Day in Nebraska and their most recent wins. 

“I know how people feel about Nebraska volleyball just walking through that Hy-Vee because they tell me everything,” Cook said. “I almost feel like it’s a therapy session going in there – for them and for me. I can’t go 10 feet without somebody talking about Nebraska volleyball.”

Second Spot

The Huskers moved up to No. 2 in this week’s AVCA poll with two first-place votes. Wisconsin remains atop the poll with the remaining 62 first-place votes. Wisconsin and Nebraska are followed by Stanford, Florida and Louisville.

The Big Ten has four other ranked teams, but they all dropped this week. Minnesota fell three spots to No. 12, and Penn State is down two to No. 15. Purdue and Ohio State slid down a pair of notches to Nos. 19 and 21, respectively. 

Big Numbers

During one of the last days of nonconference action, a lot of people watched volleyball both on television and in person. 

Nebraska played during the new time slot of 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and drew 180,000 viewers on BTN against No. 21 Kentucky. Earlier in the day, No. 1 Wisconsin defeated No. 3 Florida with 192,000 watching, while 123,000 viewers tuned in for No. 5 Stanford’s five-set win over No. 2 Louisville. 

While going up against NFL Sunday, both paled compared to earlier matches on ESPN that did not have to compete against pro football. Nebraska-Stanford had 466,000 viewers on Tuesday, and Louisville-Kentucky drew 318,000. 

Those audiences were the largest for regular-season matches on ESPN networks. 

TV numbers weren’t the only significant figures put up last week. Arenas across the country were packed as well. 

Marquette hosted Wisconsin on Wednesday and drew 17,037, which would have been the regular season record crowd if not for NU’s Memorial Stadium match. 

Louisville hosted crowds of 12,760 and 9,761 last week, with the former setting a school record. Florida hosted a program-best 10,323 fans against the Badgers, while BYU broke its old home attendance mark with 5,528 fans.

Twice Honored

Nebraska earned a pair of conference awards from the Big Ten on Monday. 

Merritt Beason was named the league’s player of the week. The junior opposite averaged four kills per set on a .354 hitting percentage. She added 15 digs and three blocks in wins over No. 5 Stanford and No. 21 Kentucky.

​​Harper Murray won her second conference freshman of the week honor. She recorded 29 kills on a .349 hitting percentage. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter added 16 digs, seven blocks and three aces.

In Nonconference Report Card, Nebraska Comes Up Aces

By Lincoln Arneal

When Nebraska’s players gathered in early August, there was uncertainty in the air. 

How would six newcomers integrate into the team? Who would be the starting setter? How would the outside hitter rotation shake out? 

The Huskers navigated the nonconference schedule undefeated with wins over No. 16 Creighton, No. 5 Stanford and No. 21 Kentucky. They had a nice road win at Kansas State. They entered the conference season ranked in the top five and poised to contend for the conference crown. 

NU still has plenty of challenges ahead during the 10-week Big Ten gauntlet. Before Nebraska dives into the league schedule, it is time to assess what we’ve learned during the nonconference slate.


The Freshmen are Legit

This could be four lessons learned. The youngsters have established themselves as key cogs in the Huskers’ lineup. 

Everyone saw glimpses of the immense talent earlier this year during the beach season, the spring match and the Brazil trip. During the first month, they’ve exceeded expectations. 

Leading the way is setter Bergen Reilly, who grabbed the keys to the offense. After NU hit .244 last season, the Huskers are showing marked improvement in their attack this year. Reilly is calm, consistent and the offense looks smooth. If she can continue the development that she’s shown during the first month, Reilly could help guide the Huskers to a deep postseason run. 

Harper Murray earned the starting outside hitter spot and has proven to be an electric offensive weapon. She hasn’t shown any signs of being intimidated and has used an arsenal of weapons to be one of Nebraska’s top attackers. While her athleticism is elite, Murray has also shown highly skilled shots to terminate. 

Andi Jackson was involved in a timeshare during the first weekend of play at middle blocker with Maggie Mendelson and Bekka Allick. However, Jackson quickly made it difficult to keep her off the court with her explosiveness and athleticism. She’s among the national leaders in hitting percentage and is holding her own on defense. It doesn’t matter if she is running the slide or a quick set in front of or behind the setter, Jackson is likely to terminate.

Laney Choboy has established herself as another defensive stalwart. Her play against Stanford saving a point in a crucial part of the fourth set will be a highlight for years. She’s pure hustle and a spark plug for team chemistry. 

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02 Bergen Reilly

Nebraska is a Title Contender

The Huskers usually get some deference in early season polls because of their pedigree and overall talent. With a team of six newcomers, there was a little uncertainty entering the campaign about how all the pieces would fit. 

However, NU has answered all the questions. The Huskers were the last team in the nation to drop a set, which they did against No. 16 Creighton, their first ranked opponent. The win over No. 5 Stanford in Palo Alto, California, should leave no doubt that NU has the talent to compete with anyone.

The mental strength to win on the road against a rival that has dominated the recent rivalry history will serve this team well. Even though they are young, that youth might benefit them as the Huskers don’t have to worry about the pressure of history and can embrace the challenge in front of them. 

Nebraska still has to go through the Big Ten, which took more lumps than usual during the nonconference season. The league will provide high-level tests as opponents gather more film on NU’s newcomers.  

Husker Fans are Dedicated

University officials laid down the challenge in February to sell out Memorial Stadium, and 92,003 fans rose to the occasion, setting a world record for attendance at a women’s sporting event. 

Volleyball Day in Nebraska exceeded nearly every expectation. The event was well thought out. It honored the history of the sport with Husker alums present, high school coaches honored and national team members in attendance. It also set the stage for the future. Hundreds of high school players packed North Stadium and members of Omaha’s new professional team were recognized. 

While it wasn’t the prettiest volleyball, the Huskers showed immense skill to deal with the unusual conditions to defeat Nebraska-Omaha. But the event wasn’t entirely about the action on the court. It was a celebration of the sport and lifted up women’s athletics. It succeeded overwhelmingly on both counts. It was a special event that few in attendance will likely forget. 

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Lil’ Red


Who Will Solve the L2 Position?

Lindsay Krause has earned the starting nod on the left pin for most of Nebraska’s early matches. However, her production is down from a year ago when she played opposite. Ally Batenhorst started against Lipscomb and Kentucky. She looked impressive in one set against Long Beach State. Hayden Kubik has only received token appearances so far. 

The opportunity for more playing time is available. Krause will likely have the first shot at it. She’ll need to mix up her shots and use the block as her friend more often. NU coaches will probably use her until a better option presents itself. 

So far, the Huskers haven’t suffered too much from a drop in production from this spot because Merritt Beason and Murray have been so good out of the back row. However, unlocking the second outside hitter position will be essential as the conference season cranks up. 

Can Serving Woes Be Fixed? 

The Huskers have more than twice as many errors as aces. While that statistic alone doesn’t tell the whole story about serving, it can show how effective a team is.

NU committed 17 errors against Stanford and 10 against Long Beach State, more than three each set. Some of the Huskers’ best players – Murray, Beason and Reilly – have been the biggest culprits for miscues. Murray also leads the team in aces, as boosted by her three against Stanford, all of which caught the tape and rolled over. 

There’s a fine line between serving aggressively and giving the other team a lollypop to set up its offense. The Huskers try to serve low and keep the ball below the antenna. Too often, the result is a ball in the net. Consistently good serving is about rhythm and skill. It’s also a mental test – just the player and the ball at the end line. If the Huskers strike the right balance, it will boost their already tough defense and set them up for more success. 

Will the Big Ten be a Two-Team Race? 

Wisconsin and Nebraska impressed during the nonconference with several big wins against top teams. The two have already separated themselves from the league’s other teams. Both were the top picks entering the season and have proven worthy early on. 

On the other side, Penn State went 1-3 against ranked teams, with its lone victory coming against Western Kentucky. Ohio State entered league play with a losing record (3-6) and didn’t win a game against teams in the Top 25 (0-6). 

The wild cards are Minnesota and Purdue. The Boilermakers have looked impressive behind freshman outside hitter Chloe Chicoine. They had a tough opening weekend, losing to Creighton and Loyola before catching fire with five-set wins against Kansas, Kentucky and Marquette. However, PU ended nonconference 6-3 after falling to USC.

The Gophers have quality wins against Oregon and Baylor, but lost to Texas, Florida, Stanford, and Creighton. They still can make noise behind reigning B1G player of the year Taylor Landfair. 

The rest of the Big Ten failed to notch a noteworthy win as they played softer schedules to build their records before league play. Once conference play starts, they will have the chance to prove themselves as the real tests begin in late September. 

Huskers Handle Kentucky, but it Wasn’t Easy

By Lincoln Arneal

“The Rally” lasted 72 seconds. 

It featured 19 attacks, including six from Nebraska outside hitter Harper Murray and seven from Kentucky’s Brooklyn DeLeye. 

The Huskers stuffed five UK attacks. Maisie Boesiger dove to save two balls while Lexi Rodriguez made shoestring digs and sent another pass while facing the endline over her head. 

Nearing exhaustion, Murray tooled the attack off the Kentucky block and collapsed, trying to catch her breath from the marathon play. 

In the end, the point only cut Nebraska’s deficit to 12-10 in the fourth set, but it was emblematic of the fight from both teams and the scrappy play that helped lift the fourth-ranked Huskers to a 25-14, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21 victory Sunday night in front of 8,531 fans at the Devaney Center.

“Both teams were fighting super hard on that point,” NU coach John Cook said. “They have several chances to win it. We had several chances to win it, and people were just making freak plays. It’s just trying to impose your will and it also got our crowd fired up. Our crowd was great for Sunday night.”

Murray said she had never been part of a rally that long, and the key to winning it was to stay disciplined and push through the exhaustion. She finished the match with 17 kills and a .308 hitting percentage. 

“We were dead. We were out of breath,” the 6-foot-2 freshman said. “When I went up for that last one, I was just telling myself to use my legs and give it my all.”

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13 Merritt Beason, 27 Harper Murray

After the play was over, Kentucky coach Craig Skinner challenged the play, claiming the ball touched the floor on one of Rodriguez’s pancake digs. The call stood, and the Huskers (9-0) were thankful for a break to catch their breath. 

The play also helped spark NU to complete the comeback and end the match in four sets. Ally Batenhorst was on the bench during the action but was impressed with the level of fight she saw. The junior outside hitter said NU works on that hustle daily during practice. 

“I think that was probably the best rally I’ve ever seen in my career,” she said. 

Batenhorst got the start after Lindsay Krause was ruled out following a car crash on Wednesday when she was rear-ended while driving on O Street. Cook said she tried to practice earlier on Sunday but only lasted 10 minutes. She is considered day-to-day. 

The Huskers were also without defensive specialist Laney Choboy. Cook said she was hurting after an on-court collision during the Stanford match last Tuesday. 

In their place, Batenhorst earned her second start of the year and finished with 12 kills. She was also perfect in her 14 serve receptions. Boesiger served for Batenhorst and recorded an ace and six digs. 

“Coming off the bench, we talk a lot about game changers and ripping off the hinges,” Batenhorst said. “That’s something that I’ve really taken to heart and whenever it’s my turn, I’m gonna go out there and give it all I have for the team.”

The Huskers dominated the first two sets as they hit .397. Freshman setter Bergen Reilly, who finished with 46 assists and 12 digs, created good matchups for her attackers. 

Even when Reilly wasn’t handling the second touches, NU was effective on offense with several impressive out-of-system kills. Junior opposite Merritt Beason totaled 17 kills and a .438 hitting percentage. Freshman middle blocker Andi Jackson added 10 kills on 16 swings. 

Junior Libero Lexi Rodriguez anchored the defense with 18 digs and made several jaw-dropping plays. Even though Batenhorst sees Rodriguez play in the gym nearly every day, she’s continually impressed by her. 

“That girl gets crazy ups that I do not expect at all,” Batenhorst said. “There were a few balls today that I was like, ‘Ope, that’s up like I have to keep going.’ She’s just amazing and she’s very consistent and a stable teammate. It’s really good that we have her to rely on all the time.”

After the slow start, Kentucky (2-6) rallied and its defense stepped up, translating to a more efficient offense. The Wildcats hit .432 in the third set and Reagan Rutherford recorded six of her match-high 19 kills. Elise Goetzinger added 14 kills for UK. 

Kentucky was hurt by 14 service errors but kept pressure on the Huskers with its defense. 

“They played really hard tonight and they played really, really well,” Cook said. “(Skinner) has got a great team. I know that record isn’t great, but look out. Those guys are going to be competing for the SEC championship.”

Orr Finding Ways to Impact Games With Her Serve

By Lincoln Arneal

When Kennedi Orr stepped onto the court last weekend, she felt like a deer in headlights. 

The junior setter was making her season debut against Long Beach State and starting a new role for her – serving specialist. 

After her first serve, Orr said she calmed down and focused on her new challenge. She said she’s excited about the new role. 

“I’ve never been a service specialist before, but I think it’s super interesting because on this team, there’s a lot of competitive roles,” Orr said on Thursday after practice. “For a serving specialist to be in a competitive role, I think is really cool.”

Orr and the fourth-ranked Huskers will return to the Devaney Center on Sunday night for their final nonconference match against No. 21 Kentucky. The match will be televised by BTN at 6:30 p.m. after nearly all the NFL action is done for the day. 

The Eagan, Minnesota, native scored seven points on her 12 serves against LBSU. Orr said she rebuilt her serve from the ground up. She has different footwork and arm swing, plus she’s also changed her mental approach. In the end, she’s put in a lot of hours practicing the skill. While others are working on serve receive, Orr said she’s on the other end line. 

Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez said she’s impressed with Orr’s progress. The co-captain said she also likes her classmate’s approach to finding a way to contribute to the undefeated Huskers.

“It can be kind of hard mentally to have that role,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t play for 20 minutes, and then you have to go in there and stick a serve. I think she’s giving it her all. She wants to make an impact, whether it’s from the service line or on defense and she’s been doing a great job.”

In addition to serving, Orr also had to adapt to taking first contact, something she usually avoids as a setter. She recorded five digs against the Beach and three more versus Stanford. Orr said she doesn’t have to change her mindset because she grew up taking pride in her passing. 

“I love defense. I always have,” she said. “I grew up on a team and a club in high school that defense was the No. 1 priority, and obviously it’s here too. We’re a great defensive team, so I’ve always prioritized it and found it super fun.”

Being a serving specialist wasn’t specifically mentioned to Orr, but she knew the importance NU coach John Cook placed on the skill. He’s long said the best six servers will see the court. 

Orr said being a serving specialist was part of her ongoing conversations with the coaching staff, but she didn’t know that she would step in until just before match time. However, she felt fully prepared to embrace her new role. 

“Coach is just really good about always keeping us ready,” she said. “We don’t really have a bench. We are more game-changers. Before every game, he’s like, ‘Game-changers, you gotta be ready to go no matter what.’ It’s not just like you’re going to be on this bench this game. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Bring on the Wildcats

Kentucky has struggled ro a 2-5 record, but none of the Huskers are not taking them lightly. UK has losses to No. 2 Louisville, No. 20 Purdue, Colorado State and a pair of setbacks to No. 10 Pitt. 

The Wildcats still feature three All-Americans on the roster – junior setter Emma Grome, senior outside hitter Reagan Rutherford and fifth-year middle blocker Azhani Tealer. Former NU assistant coach Craig Skinner will be looking for UK’s first win over the Huskers since 1983. 

Cardinal Boost

The win over fifth-ranked Stanford is the most significant accomplishment for the Huskers in the young season. 

The West Coast trip resulted in a long journey home and NU didn’t return to Lincoln until 4 a.m. Wednesday. Players took the day off from practice but were back at it on Thursday. 

Looking back, the key to the Stanford match was winning the first set 25-23. In the past few years, the Huskers have dropped close sets because of an inability to win tough points at crunch time. Against Stanford alone, NU has lost three sets by two points in recent seasons. Rodriguez said winning deuce games has been an emphasis every day in practice. 

“Winning that first set is probably the reason we won the entire game,” she said. “So it was really huge for us.”

Rodriguez said the win should help their confidence when they enter Big Ten play, which starts next weekend. She said NU can draw on its experience of going on the road and battling with a talented team. 

The win was the first ever for the Huskers at Stanford and snapped a five-match losing streak to the Cardinal stretching back to 2008. Rodriguez said she hopes the win at Stanford is the start of a trend this year for the Huskers, who also have long skids against Wisconsin (10) and Minnesota (five of the last seven).

“It was awesome,” she said. “There’s some rivalries I’m hoping we can squash this year. So to start out with that Stanford win, it was pretty cool.”

Reilly Impresses

Cook challenged Bergen Reilly before the Stanford match that she would be the best setter in the gym. Quite the challenge, considering Cardinal setter Kami Miner was a first-team All-American last season. 

After a shaky start, Cook said Reilly lived up to the billing. 

Orr also gave high marks to the freshman setter. She said Reilly has excellent hands and is technically sound, but what impresses her most is her demeanor on the court, especially as one of the youngest players.

“Bergen is very integral to how our team keeps their cool, especially in tough moments,” she said. “That’s super powerful. She’s really talented.”

Almost 700 Club

In the second set against Stanford, the Huskers played their best set of the season, winning 25-16. 

NU recorded 17 kills on 23 swings with just one error for a .696 hitting percentage while limiting the Cardinal to a .192 clip on 26 attacks.

Everyone contributed too. The Huskers jumped out to a 6-2 lead with the six kills coming on their six attacks with all five attackers recorded a kill. 

Cook credited Reilly for running the offense at a high level and setting up the hitters for success. Harper Murray led the way with seven kills on eight swings, while Merritt Beason added four kills on four attacks. Lindsay Krause tallied two. 

“Look at all the one-on-ones we had,” Cook said. “We were ball handling, passing well, and those guys were just flowing. It was probably the best game we played all year.”

Orr said she didn’t realize how well they played until after the match. 

“You don’t really think about things like that,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I had no clue that we hit .700. You keep going until you get to the finish line.”

As a result, the Cardinal changed their rotation starting in the third set to match up the 6-foot-3 Caitie Baird on Beason. The Cardinal won the next set before NU closed the match in four. 

A TV Draw

Nebraska’s match against Stanford drew 466,000 viewers on ESPN Tuesday night, the most on the network for a regular season match. The following night, Kentucky and No. 2 Louisville attracted 318,000 views for the second-highest total on ESPN. 

No. 1 Wisconsin will play at No. 3 Florida on Sunday at 2 p.m. to round out all five Top 5 teams appearing on ESPN this week. 

Allick the Motivator

Bekka Allick is well known for sharing her emotions with the world. An interaction with Caroline Jurevicius on the bench was caught on camera while Lexi Rodriguez prepared to serve. 

Allick made a demonstrative move toward Jurevicius, which seemed to catch the freshman off guard. Jurevicius eventually pounded her chest and did a handshake with Allick. It’s all routine for the sophomore middle blocker. 

“She brings a lot of fire and that’s her every day,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t really change based off of if it’s a practice or a game or a ranked opponent or unranked. She’s bringing it every day.”

Cook said Allick wears her emotions on her sleeve and she is a fierce competitor. While it might seem overly emotional, she’s just showing her passion. 

Even during the Red-White scrimmage, Allick was talking to her teammates. Orr said she gets everyone pumped up. 

“Bekka’s crazy, but in the best way possible,” Orr said. 

Playing for Keeps: Laney Choboy’s Will to Win Is Unmatched 

By Lincoln Arneal

Just after the serve hit the net and the ball fell to the court, the whistle blew. 

Everyone on the line.

The team had failed to get 10 consecutive serves in, so they had to run line touches.

During the sprints, one player beat the rest of the team to each line. She was relentless. When she finished, she encouraged her teammates to finish strong and not coast. 

Even if a failure caused them to run, it was still an opportunity for Laney Choboy. Anything can be a competition, and any competition is a chance to prove herself. 

“She was always the first to finish those things. She was using the punishment to get better,” said Erin Hensler, Choboy’s high school coach at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. “She took that as, ‘I’m gonna run faster and be a better athlete.’ Not a lot of kids will take a punishment to their advantage and push themselves like that.”

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06. Laney Choboy

It doesn’t take much to get Choboy’s competitive juices flowing. 

A race to tie shoes faster. A pickleball game against her  brother. Or most commonly, a volleyball rally. Anything can be a competition. 

For Choboy, Nebraska’s newest defensive dynamo, her competitive drive defines who she is and helps make her one of the best volleyball players in the nation. 

“I’ve always had energy, and I’ve always been the loudest person on the floor,” Choboy said. “I’ve always just kind of picked my team up and took them with me.”

After watching Choboy make a diving play to save a ball near the Husker bench, Nebraska coach John Cook said Choboy could play a whole game and not touch the ball and she would still be worth three points on their ledger. Her energy, belief in her teammates and conviction that they will win the next point help elevate everyone. 

“She just has a magnetic personality that is contagious,” Cook said. “It helps these guys believe and then when she does make plays, it’s like that times 10. You saw that play she made? I mean, who else was making that? That was unreal.”

Competitive Family 

Choboy comes from an athletic family. Her father, Jon, played tennis in college and was the head coach at North Carolina State for 15 years. Mother Tammy played volleyball at Appalachian State, and her older brother, Landon, played baseball at the College of Charleston and will use his fifth year of eligibility at Division II Mount Olive. 

Choboy had ways to release her competitive spirit at home. The family would host a pickleball tournament between all the Choboys and their cousins. While Laney wanted to win, she really wanted to beat her brother. 

“Whenever they’re on opposite sides of the net, that’s where it gets definitely a little more challenging,” Tammy said. 

As the third child, Choboy would tag along to her older sister Madison’s club volleyball tournaments. Not that she was forced to – she wanted to be there. 

As a 6-year-old, Laney sat beside her mother on the bench with a blank piece of paper, keeping score and stats. If the scorekeeper ever got off or made a mistake, Choboy would let her mother know and they’d get it corrected. 

She wasn’t just focused on the score. Choboy would also critique the attackers’ fundamentals. She could tell when a player started with the wrong foot and her approach was off. 

It wouldn’t be long before Laney would get her shot on the court. She joined her first club team the following year when the youngest group they had for her was the 11-and-under team. 

“At 7, I told my mom I was ready to go, and she was like, ‘I can’t hold her back anymore,’” Choboy said. “So there she goes. She let me go, and it’s been great ever since.”

Even though she was smaller than the other players, Choboy made up for it with her aggression and determination. She played just one year with the 11s. She stayed with the 12s for two seasons but kept progressing, building her confidence and abilities.

While her club teammates were always older, they could rarely match Choboy’s competitive drive. She didn’t understand why they weren’t as competitive as she was. She went all out. Not always to the best results. Choboy admitted that she wasn’t always the best teammate.

Eventually, her maturity caught up to her drive and Choboy learned how to turn her competitive fire into a tool to push others and set an example. She also pushed herself to become a better player. She worked hard to learn the finer points of passing and serve receive. She watched film and visualized herself making plays. 

Choboy also learned to be a good teammate and help others without pushing them too hard. As a senior, she worked as a line judge for freshman matches. During breaks, Choboy would talk to the players about what she saw and how they could improve. Hensler said having a senior see them and deliver that message in a caring yet poignant manner meant the world to them. Hensler fully expects Choboy to be coaching volleyball when her playing days are over.

“She is the feistiest girl you have ever met,” Hensler said. “She’s even feisty with her own teammates because she wants to get the point across. But when she’s off the court, she’s just so bubbly and jubilant and it’s just 100% different than her (on the court).”

Bumps in the Road

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Choboy on her journey to college volleyball. Adversity popped up several times, but she came out ahead as a better player and person each time. 

Choboy missed her freshman year of high school volleyball after she underwent surgery on both hips. However, that time on the sidelines helped her realize her personality didn’t have to be tied to volleyball. 

She sat on the bench with Hensler and gained a new perspective on the game. Instead of always being on the court, she returned to her early days on the sidelines, watching intently and picking up the details few noticed. 

COVID-19 hit and truncated her sophomore year, which allowed her to completely recover physically. Then she decided to sit out her junior year because of travel and opportunities with the junior national team. She was part of the U19 team that won the bronze medal at the 2021 U19 World Championships in Mexico. Choboy formed tight relationships with several other players, including future Nebraska players Bekka Allick, Maggie Mendelson, Caroline Jurevicius and Bergen Reilly. 

For her senior year, Leesville Road needed more attacking, so Hensler turned to Choboy, the No. 8 overall prospect in her class. Even though she was 5-foot-3, she had the strongest arm swing on the team and an excellent vertical jump, allowing her to play outside hitter. 

“Having her in that position where she could play six rotations on the court for us, we wouldn’t have to take her out, and she’d still be able to play tons of defense. To me, it was just a no-brainer,” Hensler said. “We’re gonna have our most versatile and our strongest player playing in the position where she’s gonna get most of the balls.”

Choboy led the Pride with 3.6 kills and 4.3 digs per set and helped them qualify for the 4A state tournament. 

The last curve ball thrown at Choboy came in October when she got a call from Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon telling her that he planned to step down. It was a tough decision because she’d been looking at Minnesota since she was in eighth grade and intending to enroll early. The Gophers didn’t plan to announce a replacement until after the season, weeks before she was preparing to begin her college career. 

The Choboys quietly started contacting programs and set up visits to Nebraska and Texas. It was stressful, condensing the entire recruiting process into a couple of weeks. The final sign might have come after they returned from their official visit to Lincoln. They were driving by Leesville Road and they pulled up behind a car with a Husker decal on it. 

When she posted her commitment to Nebraska on social media, it caught nearly everyone off guard, even her good friend and future Husker teammate Harper Murray in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who said she yelled a few choice words unsuitable for publication. 

“When I found out, I got out of my car and screamed in my high school parking lot,” Murray said. “She was one of my best friends, so I just didn’t want to feel like I had to pressure her into it, but she knew on her own how badly I wanted her to come.”

More Than a Spark 

In her first seven months as part of the Nebraska program, Choboy has made a big impression on her teammates. She’s part of a five-member freshman class that made its presence known early on a roster that doesn’t feature seniors. 

The year started with Choboy teaming up with Lindsay Krause to go 14-6 in the beach season. Her play in the Huskers’ exhibition match in Central City, Nebraska, against Wichita State earned fans. Then she held her own in Brazil and donned the libero jersey for a few matches. Cook said she’s already improved from the service line and passing the ball. 

At most schools, Choboy might be slated to start at libero right away. The problem at NU is she will be behind junior co-captain Lexi Rodriguez. However, Choboy relishes the role of learning consistency from the two-time All-American. 

“She’s just gonna show up every single day and she’s gonna pass the ball every single day and it’s really hard to compete with that,” Choboy said. “I’ve learned some technique things and I’ve also learned how to stay steady and not have super high, not super low. So she’s just taught me so much.”

Choboy will still play an essential role for the Huskers this fall. She will likely be the defensive specialist for one of NU’s outside hitters. She watched the success of other DSs last year, especially Kenzie Knuckles, who also contributed to the Huskers’ attack.

Coming to Nebraska in January allowed Choboy to adjust to living independently and figure out college before the pressure of the volleyball season cranks up. While she develops a role on the court, Choboy has impacted the team’s chemistry. Even though she’s one of the younger players on the team, she’s not afraid to speak her mind and let her play set the tone. 

“She brings a lot of energy,” junior co-captain Merritt Beason said. “It allows the team to kind of be fueled. She’s like a fire starter in a way she kind of likes to spark, and everyone else flies up in flames.”

Huskers Move to 8-0, Down No. 5 Stanford

By Lincoln Arneal

Stanford had the play snuffed out, or so it thought. 

The Cardinal rejected a quick attack by Nebraska’s Bekka Allick and sent the ball back toward the end line. However, freshman Laney Choboy made a diving save to keep the ball alive. Lexi Rodriguez dove and punched the ball up where Bergen Reilly could send it over. 

Perhaps Stanford was stunned the rally was still alive. Caitie Baird overpassed the free ball, and Harper Murray slammed home the kill to give the fourth-ranked Huskers a 19-15 lead in the fourth set.

Not long after, Nebraska put the finishing touches on a 25-23, 25-16, 19-25, 25-21 win over No. 5 Stanford Tuesday evening at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, California. The victory was the first-ever for the Huskers at Stanford and the first over the Cardinal since 2008. 

“That play that Laney made, not letting the ball hit the floor – that messes with teams,” NU coach John Cook said in a postgame radio interview. “When it’s supposed to be a kill, and all of a sudden here it comes back over, it’s a two-point swing.”

The Huskers (8-0) used solid floor defense and an efficient offense to stymie Stanford. Allick was part of eight of NU’s 11 blocks, and the Huskers’ floor defense contributed 38 digs, led by 12 from Rodriguez, as they chased down Stanford attacks. 

Cook said he was proud of his team’s ability to pull out a deuce game in the first set. After dropping three two-point sets during the past two meetings with the Cardinal, the Huskers erased a 21-20 deficit in the first set and won five of the final seven rallies with Merritt Beason ending it with a kill. 

“That was a huge two-point game to win on the road at Stanford,” Cook said. “We weren’t playing that well in the first game. But we talk about that all the time, we got to win two-point games.”

The critical run in the first set came with Murray at the service line and trailing 14-13. She found the floor twice for two of her three aces in the match to put the Huskers in front. 

The second set might have been the Huskers’ best set of the season. NU terminated 17 of its 23 attacks with just one hitting error for a .696 hitting percentage. 

The Huskers jumped out quickly with kills on their first six swings as all five attackers got in on the action to help them to a 7-2 lead in the set. Stanford trimmed its deficit to 17-13 after back-to-back aces, but NU pulled away late. 

The set ended on a Stanford service error. The Cardinal missed on 15 serves for the match, while the Huskers committed 17 service errors. Despite all the miscues, Cook said NU picked up its level when it mattered.

“They serve really tough. They missed, but we missed a lot. We finally started serving tough Game 4. I just told them, ‘You guys, we have to start going after serving.’ Bergen (Reilly) started it off for us, and really, we ran a ton of points in her rotation serving and she started pumping it.”

The Cardinal (5-2) finally closed a set, winning nine of the final 11 rallies in the third set after NU led 17-16. 

Baird came alive with seven of her team-high 15 kills in the set. She hit .400 for the match. Fifth-year senior opposite Kendall Kipp added 12 kills. Sophomore outside Elia Rubin finished with seven kills but also committed 11 hitting errors. 

“Stanford’s a great team,” Cook said. “They got some great players. This is a whole nother level than what we’ve been playing.”

For the match, NU hit .333, while limiting Stanford to .218, more than 100 points lower than its season average. 

Beason led the Huskers with 15 kills, while Murray added 12 kills on a .417 hitting percentage. Freshman middle blocker Andi Jackson added eight kills on 13 swings, while Allick and Lindsay Krause finished with seven kills each. 

The victory was the Huskers’ first regular-season road win against a top-five team since 2017 at No. 2 Penn State. 

The win should also be a big boost to the young Huskers as they passed the toughest test of the season. Stanford owns wins over three other ranked teams this season – No. 7 Texas, No. 10 Minnesota and No. 15 Ohio State. 

NU still has a tough road ahead with four more matches against ranked opponents in the next two weeks. 

“It’s early in the season, but we talked about that this was a big test for us coming out here and we want to see how we respond,” Cook said. “Hopefully, we’ll build some confidence from this and they know they can play at a really high level.”