Who Will Grab Starting Spots at Outside Hitter?

By Lincoln Arneal

To Lindsay Krause, the outside hitter battle isn’t a four-person competition. 

It’s a one-person showdown – against herself. 

The 6-foot-4 Nebraska junior focuses on her development, and if she’s performing at her best, she is willing to accept whatever the starting lineup is. Krause said she’s not using the early season practices to work against her teammates but to improve her performance from the day before. 

“If you put all your focus on making sure you’re better than somebody else, that’s gonna ultimately mess with your mindset,” she said. “Because you’re not going to be better than that person every single day of the season. That’s just not realistic. So can I be the best person that I am today? Can I be better than who I was yesterday? Can I see constant improvement in what I’m doing? And then let the rest workout.”

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22 Lindsay Krause

The Huskers are looking for two starters to emerge from the quartet of Krause, junior Ally Batenhorst, sophomore Hayden Kubik and freshman Harper Murray. Each of the four came to Nebraska as a touted prospect, and now the Huskers need production from them to elevate an offense that was stagnant at times last season. 

Batenhorst, who started 14 matches last season, relishes the competition at outside hitter. 

The 6-5 junior has been tinkering with her arm swing mechanics during the offseason. She averaged 2.33 kills per set last year but hit just .190. She’s made a few technical adjustments in her swing motion and is focusing on getting to the ball quicker. 

While she’s focusing on improving her skill set, she believes the hitters pushing each other will make the team better.

“I know exactly what I need to do and I know what this team needs from me,” Batenhorst said. “I want to make an impact on this team and approach it with the mindset that I’m gonna do the best I can and be the best version of myself for the team, so just kind of being selfless.”

Krause returns to her more natural position at the left pin playing mostly on the right side the past two seasons.. She said her ultimate goal is to be a six-rotation outside hitter. Because opposite Merritt Beason will likely play six rotations, only one outside hitter will have to go all the way around, opening up a back-row position for defensive specialist Laney Choboy. 

After a strong NCAA tournament performance where she recorded 3.25 kills per set on a .378 hitting percentage, Krause hopes to continue the trend this year. She said she feels confident in her attacking abilities and growth as a passer. 

“We’re doing something that Coach always says is trust your training,” she said. “I feel like trusting that we’re ready for this and me personally ready for this because it’s something that we’ve practiced and done a million times, and realizing that you can just trust what you’re doing and that it’s gonna work out.”

The 6-2 Murray has only been part of the Husker program for seven months, but she’s already adopted Cook’s mantra, which she said was also used by her club coach. 

“I’m just trying to trust my training right now,” Murray said. “Coach is putting me in a good position to keep learning from the older girls. So I’m just going to continue to trust my training and work hard. My goal is to be out there.”

Murray, the No. 1 ranked 2023 prospect by PrepVolleyball.com, said arriving early was the best decision she could have made because she got a head start building relationships with her teammates and getting used to the drills and intensity of Nebraska’s practices.

In addition, she has prepared for the grind of the volleyball season with intense workouts she’s been doing for several years. She credited athletic trainer Jolene Emricson and strength coach Brian Kmitta with teaching her what the body needs to keep up with the training demands. 

“They do an amazing job of keeping us in shape and keeping us working hard,” Murray said. “That’ll go far for us in those five-set matches.”

Without her sister Madi on the team this year, Kubik said she is focused on writing her own story this season. As a sophomore, the 6-2 Kubik said she’s more emotionally stable and ready for whatever gets thrown at her. 

Kubik appeared in four matches during her freshman campaign but stepped up against Creighton after Batenhorst had to leave with an injury. She said that match was a big confidence boost, and she still reflects upon her six-kill performance when she struggles. 

“When you play at such a high level like you question, am I good enough? Should I even be here?” she said. “After that game, I was like, ‘I know this was meant for me.’ I love playing at a high level. It all made sense at the time that this is where I should be, and it still does.”

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