Youngsters amped for first outing in Devaney Center

By Lincoln Arneal

Laney Choboy has been putting in the work on the court to prepare for her debut in the Devaney Center on Saturday. 

The freshman defensive specialist has also practiced to make sure she’s ready for fan day, scheduled for earlier that morning. 

“In the study room, I’ve been writing on the whiteboard,” she said. “If you were to go in there right now, you’d see a million of my signatures. I’ve been doing different ones trying to practice how they look cool.”

Choboy and her four freshmen classmates will get a chance to show off their skills at their home arena for the first time in the annual Red-White scrimmage on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Huskers will host a two-hour fan day at Devaney earlier in the day starting at 10 a.m. 

NU coach John Cook said the match would be structured like a regular competition. He’s working to find a way to divide the positions to create balanced teams. The Huskers have enough depth to almost field two complete teams. They are just one middle blocker short. 

As of Wednesday, Cook hasn’t yet figured out a starting lineup for the first match of the year, but the scrimmage would go a long way in helping to figure that out. He said he is eager to see how they respond during their first test.

“I want to see high-level volleyball and see us compete,” he said. “You try and make two even teams and let them go at it because these guys love to compete.”

The scrimmage will also give fans a glimpse at each position battle. Junior Kennedi Orr and freshman Bergen Reilly are angling to run the offense at setter. The Huskers have four outside hitters – juniors Ally Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause, sophomore Hayden Kubik and freshman Harper Murray – who are challenging for two starting spots. 

Sophomores Bekka Allick and Maggie Mendelson and freshman Andi Jackson will each get a look at middle blocker. Junior Merritt Beason appears to have the inside track at opposite, but freshman Caroline Jurevicius has had a good fall camp. Junior libero Lexi Rodriguez should start at libero with Choboy and sophomore Maisie Boesiger playing defensive specialist. 

The players are looking forward to playing in front of 7,000 people at the Devaney Center for the first time. Jackson said she’s been to several matches as a spectator but can’t wait to be in the middle of it all. 

“I’ve never got to be down on the court and playing, and so just playing with all these girls … ,” she said, trailing off. “I know that it’s going to be an amazing experience, especially for us freshmen. We’re really looking forward to just being in that atmosphere and getting to experience it as a player.” 

Jackson said she hopes to show all her progress during the first two weeks of practice. She’s been working on her blocking technique and adding more shots to her repertoire. 

Choboy said playing in a match-like environment, even against teammates, will get the competitive juices flowing. 

She said the spring Wichita State match was an eye-opening experience for her. Fans greeted her when they got off the bus, and the gym was packed with more than 2,000 fans. She is going to use the bigger crowd to her advantage. 

“It’s going to be so fun to watch. I’m super excited for the high-level competition because we practice against each other, but when you’re in the game, it’s just different.”

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