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Allison McNeal and the Huskers will host the Ameritas Players Challenge this weekend.
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
          Release: 09/04/2012
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Huskers Host Ameritas Players Challenge

After improving to 5-0 on the season after sweeping both Colgate and UC Irvine last weekend, the Nebraska volleyball team will host the Ameritas Players Challenge this week at the NU Coliseum. The Huskers will take on the Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday at 7 p.m., while Nebraska and Duquesne will face each other on Friday at 4 p.m. and the Huskers will meet the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday at 4 p.m. Kentucky and Duquesne will meet on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., while Kentucky and Oklahoma will play each other at 6 p.m. on Friday and Oklahoma and Duquesne will face off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Former Big 12 foes, Nebraska and Oklahoma have met a total of 80 times, with Nebraska leading the all-time series at 74-6. The Huskers last met Oklahoma on Nov. 17, 2010 when Nebraska swept OU 3-0.

This week's meeting between Duquesne and Nebraska will be the first meeting between the schools.

The Huskers and Wildcats have met a total of eight times, with Nebraska holding a 6-2 lead in the all-time series. Nebraska and Kentucky last met on Aug. 28, 2010 when the Huskers swept UK 3-0.

Fans can listen to all of the action with John Baylor and Diane Mendenhall on the 25-station Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and The Wolf 93.3 FM in Omaha. Fans outside the state will also be able to catch the live audio feed for free on Huskers.com.

Nebraska's matches with Oklahoma and Kentucky will air live on NET, while all three of the Huskers'  matches can be seen live on BTN.com with a subscription. Live stats for all matches will be available on Huskers.com. 

Scouting the Oklahoma Sooners

  • Oklahoma is 5-2 on the season, as they most recently lost to Colorado State 3-1 and will face Arkansas on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
  • Junior Julia Doyle recorded back-to-back double-doubles over the weekend with 43 assists and 10 digs against North Dakota State as well as 37 assists and 12 digs against Colorado State.
  • Senior libero Maria Fernanda is OU's career digs leader with 1,769 total digs. Her 55-dig performance in the Nike Invitational put her over the 1,700 mark.
  • Junior middle blocker Sallie McLaurin leads Oklahoma and the Big 12 Conference with 1.70 blocks per set. Against Colorado State, she matched a career-best four solo blocks.
  • In Oklahoma's five-set victory over Tulsa in the Nike Invitational, the Sooners notched 20.5 team blocks, including 14 block assists by Sallie McLaurin and a personal-best 11 total blocks by Morgan Reynolds.
  • The Sooners are coached by Santiago Restrepo, who enters his 14th year with the program; he held a 269-178 record entering the 2012 season.

Scouting the Duquesne Dukes

  • Duquesne enters the weekend with a 7-1 overall record and will face Saint Francis on Tuesday night in Loretto, Pa.
  • The Dukes completed the Duquesne/RMU Invitational undefeated last weekend, defeating Loyola 3-1 and Bucknell 3-0, as well as recording 3-0 wins over Providence and Norfolk State.
  • Allison Foschia was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after recording 48 kills, 42 digs and a hitting percentage of .380 over the weekend. Arielle Love notched 33 kills and a .403 hitting percentage and Ashley Buse recorded 37 kills, a .465 hitting percentage and 11 blocks as both were named to the All-Tournament Team.
  • Foschia was honored by the Atlantic 10 Conference as the Offensive Player of the Week, while Mary Henry earned Rookie of the Week accolades. Henry notched her second consecutive Rookie of the Week honor after leading the event with 141 assists and making the All-Tournament Team.
  • The Dukes are led by Head Coach Steve Opperman, who is in his 14th season with the program. He is a three-time Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year.

Scouting the Kentucky Wildcats

  • Kentucky enters this weekend with a 5-2 record, most recently topping Western Carolina 3-0 at the Ohio Tournament last weekend.
  • The Wildcats are ranked No. 19 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll.
  • At the Ohio Tournament, the Wildcats beat Ohio 3-1, but were swept 3-0 by Oregon.
  • Senior Ashley Frazier led the Wildcats with 12 kills on a .458 hitting percentage and adding a career-best seven digs en route to leading Kentucky to a 3-0 win over Western Carolina.
  • Junior Alexandra Morgan earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week accolades after leading the conference with 1.33 blocks per set in the opening weekend of play.
  • Kentucky is coached by Craig Skinner, who is in his eighth year in the program. He became the fastest coach in school history to total 100 career victories in just his fifth season with the program. Prior to joining the Wildcats, Skinner spent five seasons as an assistant at Nebraska under John Cook and was named head assistant coach in 2003.

Noting the Nebraska Cornhuskers

The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes heading into this weekend.

  • Nebraska enters this weekend's matches with a 5-0 record and No. 1 national ranking.
  • The Huskers return first-team AVCA All-American Gina Mancuso and AVCA Honorable Mention All-Americans Lauren Cook, Hannah Werth and Morgan Broekhuis to the 2012 roster.
  • Nebraska is the second-winningest program in Division I history with 1,145 wins and trails only UCLA (1,162) on the all-time list.
  • The defending Big Ten Champion Huskers were picked as the favorite to win the Big Ten title in 2012, while Lauren Cook, Hannah Werth and Gina Mancuso were picked as All-Big Ten selections.
  • Nebraska currently has 166 consecutive sellouts at the NU Coliseum, the longest sellout streak across all NCAA women's athletics. The Huskers averaged 4,522 fans per home contest last season.

 • Nebraska has 10 players on its 2012 roster who were Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selections, representing the top-50 players in that year's recruiting class. Five of the Huskers' last seven recruiting classes have ranked in the top five nationally, including the 2009 class that was ranked second by Prepvolleyball.com

  • Nebraska continued its string of All-America success in 2011, as Gina Mancuso was named an AVCA All-American. Mancuso upped Nebraska's NCAA-leading totals to 35 players and 71 certificates. Nebraska has had at least one

All-American every season since 1983, a total of 30 straight seasons, including 36 All-America awards in Cook's 12 years at Nebraska. 

AVCA All-America Certificates

No.         School                   Awards

1.            Nebraska             71

2.            Stanford              65

3.            Penn State          54

4.            Hawaii                   52

5.            UCLA                     42

  • Head Coach John Cook returns a loaded team in 2012 that lost only one starter from 2011 and returns eight letterwinners. His team finished 25-5 last season, while Cook has won over 91 percent (363-34) of his matches in 12 seasons as the Huskers' leader.

The Last Time Nebraska...

  • Won a match 3-0: vs. UC Irvine, Sept. 1, 2012
  • Won a match 3-1: vs. Wisconsin, Nov. 19, 2011
  • Won a match 3-2: vs. UCLA, Aug. 25, 2012
  • Lost a match 0-3: at Purdue, Nov. 12, 2011
  • Lost a match 1-3: at Northwestern, Nov. 26, 2011
  • Lost a match 2-3: vs. Kansas State, Dec. 2, 2011
  • Had 100 kills in a match: vs. Texas Tech, Oct. 26, 1996
  • Had 200 attacks in a match: vs. Iowa State (200), Oct. 21, 2009
  • Had .500-or-more hitting pct.: vs. Kansas (.523), Oct. 10, 2001
  • Had 10-or-more service aces: at Texas A&M (11), Nov. 5, 2008
  • Had 40-or-more total blocks: vs. UCLA (41), Sept. 14, 1991
  • Had 100-or-more digs: vs. USC (109), Dec. 11, 2004

The Last Time a Husker...

  • Had 30-or-more kills: Sarah Pavan (31) at Kansas State, Nov. 3, 2007
  • Had 10-or-more blocks: Brooke Delano (10) at Oklahoma, Sept. 29, 2010
  • Had 25-or-more digs: Lara Dykstra (28) vs. New Mexico State, Aug. 26, 2011
  • Had two players with 20-or-more kills: Tara Mueller (24) and Jordan Larson (21) at Washington, Dec. 13, 2008

Nebraska...

  • Is 335-65 (.837) when winning a first set under John Cook and 40-25 (.615) when it loses the opening set
  • Has spent 395 weeks in the top 10 and were ranked in the top 10 for 115 consecutive weeks (2004-Sept. 5, 2011)
  • Nebraska has currently been ranked in the top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks (Sept. 12, 2011-present)
  • Is 199-0 under John Cook when hitting .300 or better

Nebraska Ranked No. 1

The No. 1 ranking represents the 84th week that Nebraska has been ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Since 2001, the Huskers have been ranked No. 1 for 51 weeks, including holding the top spot nationally for the entire 2006 season and for 15 weeks during the 2005 season. 

Huskers Earn Big Ten Weekly Honors

Nebraska senior Lauren Cook and freshman Meghan Haggerty have both been honored by the Big Ten Conference with weekly Big Ten Awards. Cook was named the Big Ten Co-Player and Setter of the Week, while Haggerty has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. The awards mark the first such honor for both players.

Cook guided the Husker attack to wins over Saint Louis (3-0), No. 1 UCLA (3-2) and Notre Dame (3-0) during the first weekend of play. She notched double-doubles in all three matches, including 56 assists and 22 digs against the Bruins. Cook averaged 10.7 assists, 4.4 digs and 0.4 blocks per set. She also tabbed 27 assists against Saint Louis and 35 against Notre Dame, helping Nebraska hit .365 against the Fighting Irish.

Haggerty earned Big Ten honors after she hit .545 against UC Irvine, recording seven kills on 11 swings to go along with four blocks to help Nebraska to a 3-0 victory. She also averaged 2.3 kills and 1.3 blocks per set in the match.

Haggerty's Impressive Debut

Nebraska freshman Meghan Haggerty became just the eighth true freshman to start a season opener during Coach John Cook's career at Nebraska. She posted a team-high 17 kills against UCLA, notching a .600 hitting percentage (17-2-25). Her 17 kills were the most by a Nebraska middle blocker since Tracy Stalls tallied 17 (17-2-26) against UCLA during the 2006 National Semifinal match. 

Starting Strong

The Huskers hold a 5-0 record to open the season. The last time Nebraska was 5-0 after the first few weeks of the season was in 2008.

Werth Notches 1,000 Digs

Nebraska senior outside hitter Hannah Werth tallied 17 digs against the UCLA Bruins, notching her second-consecutive double-double of the season. With that dig total, she surpassed the 1,000 career dig mark, becoming just the 11th Husker to reach that milestone. She has a total of 1,041 career digs, and ranks ninth all-time on the Nebraska career digs list.

Cook Reaches 400th Match

Saturday's match against the UC Irvine Anteaters was Head Coach John Cook's 400th match at Nebraska, he holds a 365-34 record at Nebraska.

Solid Senior Class

Senior Hannah Werth will be looked to by the Husker defense in her fourth year. The 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Werth earned AVCA honorable mention All-America accolades in 2011 and was one of four sophomores nationally to be named an AVCA All-American in 2010 with her second-team selection. She also received first-team All-Big Ten accolades after recording 10 double-doubles on the year. She recorded at least 10 digs 19 times during her junior campaign, with a streak of eight matches where she posted at least 10 digs.

Werth has a recorded a double-double in every match this season, including reaching over 1,000 career digs in the Huskers' match with UCLA. She led Nebraska in kills against Saint Louis, recorded 12 kills against UCLA and notched 11 against Notre Dame. She also led Nebraska in digs against Colgate (12) and UC Irvine (12).

Gina Mancuso will look to guide the Huskers offensively after earning first-team AVCA All-America honors as a junior. She had a breakout year as a starter at outside hitter as a junior and elevated her play, leading the Huskers in kills and points, averaging 3.60 kills per set, 2.66 digs per set and 0.54 blocks per set. Her efforts kept her ranked in the top 10 in the Big Ten Conference for total kills during the entire season. She notched at least 10 kills in 27 matches in 2011.

She led Nebraska in kills against Notre Dame, recorded 15 against UCLA, along with 16 digs, and notched 10 kills against Saint Louis. Mancuso tallied a .412 hitting percentage against Colgate, recording seven kills on 17 swings and also posting six digs.

After running a 6-2 system as a sophomore, Lauren Cook excelled in her role as pilot of the Husker offense in 2011. She was named a 2011 AVCA honorable mention All-American and earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades. Cook helped the Huskers hit. 300 or better in 10 matches in 2011, including two matches over .400 and a season-high .438 against Jackson State. She led NU with 18 double-doubles (assists-digs) on the year, giving her 37 career double-doubles at Nebraska. Cook averaged 11.03 assists per set and topped the 40-assist mark 13 times during the season, including a career-high 62 assists against Kansas State.

Cook was stellar against UCLA, posting 56 assists and 22 digs. She also notched three kills against the Bruins. She currently ranks sixth on Nebraska's all-time assists list with 3,282 career assists. She has four double-doubles on the season.

Paige Hubl joins Cook and Werth as one of three captains on the 2012 squad after being a key defensive contributor and serving specialist for the Huskers in 2011. She played in all 30 matches as a junior and posted a career-high 12 digs against Kansas State. Hubl notched two digs against Colgate last Saturday.

Allison McNeal is a talented middle blocker returning for the Huskers in 2012 after missing the 2011 season due to an injury. She started 17 matches in 2010, averaging 1.33 kills and 0.88 blocks per set.

McNeal exploded offensively for Nebraska against Colgate, recording 10 kills on 14 swings for a .571 hitting percentage.  She also notched four total blocks in the match.

Huskers Find Even More Talent for 2012

Head Coach John Cook's 2012 Huskers include four talented additions. NU welcomes in true freshmen Kelsey Fien, Meghan Haggerty, Alexa Strange and Sheridan Zarda.

Broekhuis, Thramer Excel for Huskers

Nebraska juniors Morgan Broekhuis and Hayley Thramer excelled in their roles as sophomores, setting the stage for what is expected to be solid junior campaigns for both.

Broekhuis put herself in position to earn a starting spot at right side hitter as a sophomore and went on to earn first-team All-Big Ten and AVCA honorable-mention All-America honors. She averaged 3.04 kills, 1.58 digs, 0.69 assists and 0.86 blocks per set. She notched at least 10 kills on 19 occasions as a sophomore.

Broekhuis proved key for the Huskers in their win over defending NCAA Champion UCLA, notching 15 kills against the Bruins and the final two kills of the fifth set to seal the victory. She also recorded four service aces against Notre Dame. She was solid for the Huskers against UC Irvine, recording 16 kills on 29 swings for a .517 hitting percentage.

Thramer made solid strides in 2011, making her first career start at New Mexico on Aug. 27, where she totaled six kills and three blocks. She averaged 1.04 kills, 0.28 digs and 1.08 blocks per set. She finished with a career high 10 blocks against Illinois and ranked second on the team in blocks (100).

Thramer recorded a career-high 24 attacks against UCLA on Aug. 25. She also recorded seven kills and six total blocks against the Bruins and a hitting percentage of .467 the following day against Notre Dame.

Dykstra Sets Freshman Record

In her first season with the Huskers, Lara Dykstra took over the role of libero after all-time Nebraska digs leader Kayla Banwarth graduated in 2010. One of the Huskers' most consistent players in 2011, Dykstra became just the seventh true freshman to start a season opener during Coach John Cook's career at Nebraska. She set the NU freshman single-season digs record with 399 and finished second on the freshman single-season digs per set list with 3.59. Dykstra also recorded 15 or more digs eight times in 2011. Dykstra recorded 20 digs against UCLA on Aug. 25.

Huskers Elect Team Captains

Nebraska seniors Lauren Cook, Paige Hubl and Hannah Werth were selected as the 2012 team captains for the Huskers.

Busboom-Kelly Returns to Nebraska

Dani Busboom-Kelly joined Head Coach John Cook's staff in July of 2012 after spending the previous season at Louisville. After successful coaching stints at Louisville and Tennessee, Busboom-Kelly returned to Nebraska where she was a standout libero and setter for the Huskers.

As a captain at Nebraska, Busboom-Kelly moved from setter to libero in 2006 to help Nebraska's defense and finished her career as one of only two players to rank among NU's all-time leaders in both digs (1,281, second) and assists (2,873, eighth). She was a four-year starter for Cook, guiding NU to a 124-10 record, the best four-year mark in school history, three Big 12 titles, two NCAA finals appearances and a national title in 2006.

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