After winning the 2017 NCAA Championships, Nebraska will not play in an offseason spring match this year.
The Huskers usually enlighten their dedicated fans with a match, usually located outside of their hometown of Lincoln. Some of their previous locations have been in western Nebraska – Kearney, Ogallala, Grand Island and Wayne.
Despite having a strong fan showing for all of their matches they won’t be playing this offseason because the team does not have any returning setters. Kelly Hunter finished her eligibility with the team following the 2017 season and redshirt freshman Hunter Atherton deciding to transfer leaves the team shorthanded in the setting position.
The Huskers, though, will not have to do a ton of searching for a setter for the 2018 season as they have a freshman setter coming in the fall, Nicklin Hames. Hames has an impressive resume as she was named the 2017-18 Tennessee Gatorade State High School Player of the Year and to the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior National Team that competed at the 2017 FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championships.
Despite not having a true setter for the spring, which would make it difficult to practice, Hunter has agreed to practice with the team during the spring with the team but cannot compete in a public spring match. The team also has assistant coach Kayla Banwarth as an option to help the team scrimmage at a high level.
Cook is not overly disappointed about not having a spring season this year but is excited to use the time to really break things down and train his youthful squad for the upcoming season.
Additionally for the Huskers this spring, the team lost assistant coach, Tyler Hildebrand to a USA Volleyball position that was just created – USAV Director of Beach Coaching. Cook was looking for a three-year commitment from Hildebrand but the new position was hard to pass up.
Last season, the Huskers went 32-4 overall, losing their opening weekend against Oregon and Florida along with Northern Iowa upsetting the Huskers in a preseason tournament. During Big Ten play they lost just to Wisconsin on the road in a tough four-set match but went on the win the remainder of their matches for the year, winning their fifth national championship over Florida.