NU Hosts Minnesota, Wisconsin; Celebrates Jordan Larson Jersey Retirement
MATCH 13: #8 NEBRASKA vs. #3 MINNESOTA
SEPT. 29, 2017 | 5 P.M. (CT)
LINCOLN, NEB. | BOB DEVANEY SPORTS CENTER
MATCH 14: #8 NEBRASKA vs. #7 WISCONSIN
SEPT. 30, 2017 | 7 P.M. (CT)
LINCOLN, NEB. | BOB DEVANEY SPORTS CENTER
The eighth-ranked Nebraska volleyball team welcomes No. 3 Minnesota and No. 7 Wisconsin to the Bob Devaney Sports Center for two key Big Ten matches this weekend. Nebraska (9-3, 2-0 Big Ten) and Minnesota (12-1, 1-1 Big Ten) will play at 5 p.m. on Friday on BTN and BTN2GO.com. The Huskers will battle the Badgers (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten) at 7 p.m. on Saturday on NET and BTN2GO.com.
Husker Sports Network will broadcast all the action on HSN affiliates including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and 105.9 FM in Omaha on Friday. Saturday’s match will air on AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and on the official Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 24th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren Cook, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.
Huskers to Retire Jordan Larson’s Jersey
Former Husker All-American and two-time Olympian Jordan Larson will have her jersey retired on Friday during intermission. Larson will be the eighth former Husker to have her jersey retired and the first since Nancy (Meendering) Metcalf in 2011. Larson was a three-time All-American from 2006 to 2008 and led the Huskers to the 2006 NCAA title. The Hooper, Nebraska native is one of only five Huskers to record more than 1,000 kills and digs in a career and finished her career with a school-record 186 service aces.
Following her collegiate career, Larson joined the U.S. National Team on a full-time basis and competed in the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics, earning a silver and bronze medal, respectively. She helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 2014 FIVB World Championships, the first-ever major tournament gold medal for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Larson has collected numerous professional accolades, including most valuable player of the CEV Champions League in 2014-15, most valuable player of the 2015 FIVB Club World Championships, and USA Volleyball’s Indoor Female Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
Fans Can Participate in Pregame Light Show
This weekend fans are encouraged to participate in a special pregame light show by downloading the Husker Lights app on their phones and holding them up during Nebraska player introductions. The app is available on both Apple and Android devices.
About the Huskers
• The Huskers began the Big Ten slate with a perfect 2-0 record on opening weekend, sweeping No. 2 Penn State and Rutgers on the road. Annika Albrecht was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week and the Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time in her career after averaging 5.17 kills on .400 hitting last weekend. Albrecht had a career-high 19 kills with six digs and four blocks at Penn State. Kelly Hunter was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week with 12.33 assists per set in the two sweeps.
• Nebraska is 13th nationally and second in the Big Ten in kills per set at 14.55.
• Nebraska ranks 14th nationally in opponent hitting percentage at .142, a mark that ranks third in the Big Ten.
• The highest opponent hitting percentage against the Huskers this season is .232 by Northern Iowa. The Huskers have held their first 12 opponents under .250 hitting for the first time since 2013.
• Mikaela Foecke leads the Huskers with 3.28 kills per set and is averaging 2.62 digs per set. The junior has four double-doubles this season.
• Albrecht is averaging 3.05 kills per set and 2.78 digs per set. Her 122 kills in 12 matches this season equals her combined total through her first three years at Nebraska.
• Over the last four matches, Albrecht is averaging 4.69 kills per set on .371 hitting. She has at least 12 kills in each of the four matches.
• Albrecht has 114 career service aces, which ranks 10th in NU career history. With three more aces, she will move into a tie for ninth.
• Jazz Sweet adds 2.55 kills per set and is hitting .304.
• Hunter, a two-time Big Ten Setter of the Week this season, is putting up 10.48 assists per set and 2.48 digs per set. The only NCAA Division I setter who has set her team to both a national and conference championship, Hunter ranks sixth in school history with 3,206 career assists at NU.
• Senior middle blocker Briana Holman averages 2.43 kills and 1.16 blocks per set with a team-high .333 hitting percentage.
• Junior libero Kenzie Maloney is averaging 4.45 digs per set, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.
• Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lauren Stivrins chips in 2.25 kills and 0.90 blocks per set for the Huskers. Stivrins has at least six kills in every match this season.
• John Cook, Nebraska: 18th year at Nebraska (508-68); 25th year overall (669-141)
• Hugh McCutcheon, Minnesota: 6th year at Minnesota (146-38)
• Kelly Sheffield, Wisconsin: 5th year at Wisconsin (123-26); 17th year overall (396-138)
• Nebraska leads Minnesota, 33-7, and is 7-3 in the Big Ten era. The teams split last year’s matchups with NU winning 3-2 in Lincoln on Oct. 23 and Minnesota winning 3-1 in Minneapolis on Nov. 23. Friday’s match will be the only meeting between the teams this regular season.
• Nebraska leads Wisconsin, 18-3-1, and is 7-2 in the Big Ten era. The Huskers snapped a two-match skid to the Badgers last year when they swept Wisconsin in Lincoln on Oct. 21 in the only meeting between the teams in 2016. The teams will play again in Madison on Oct. 11.
• No. 3 Minnesota (12-1, 1-1 Big Ten) suffered its first loss of the season, 3-0, at home to Michigan State last Sunday. The Golden Gophers rank 12th in the nation in hitting at .297. Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson was a first-team All-American last year and averages 12.20 assists per set. Opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy is one of the best freshmen in the nation, averaging 4.38 kills per set to lead the Big Ten. Alexis Hart (3.18 kills per set) and Molly Lohman (1.86 kills, 1.44 blocks per set) received All-America honorable mention last year.
• No. 7 Wisconsin (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten entering Friday’s match at Iowa) won nine straight matches to open the season before dropping its Big Ten opener at home to Michigan State, 3-2, last Friday. The Badgers rebounded with a 3-0 sweep of Michigan on Sunday. Freshman middle blocker Dana Rettke leads the Badgers with 3.33 kills and 1.61 blocks per set, and the 6-8 standout is hitting .453. Tionna Williams was a third-team AVCA All-American last year. She averages 2.55 kills and 1.45 blocks while hitting .442. Freshman setter Sydney Hilley provides 11.92 assists per set.
Hunter Guides Young Husker Squad
• All-America setter Kelly Hunter is in her senior season after leading NU to a national championship and a Big Ten championship the past two seasons as team captain and starting setter.
• Hunter was a second-team AVCA All-American in 2016 and an All-Big Ten setter, becoming the first Husker setter since Lauren Cook in 2012 to make the All-Big Ten team. She is a preseason All-Big Ten selection.
• Hunter ranks sixth on NU’s career assists chart with 3,206.
• Hunter was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week on Sept. 11 after a double-double of 31 assists and 14 digs against UCLA on Sept. 9.
• She added another honor on Sept. 25 after averaging 12.33 assists in sweeps at Penn State and Rutgers. She has eight career weekly Big Ten awards.
Foecke Poised for Bigger Role
• Junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke is NU’s top hitter with 3.28 kills per set. She received All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2016 and was an AVCA All-Region honoree.
• Foecke worked hard to become a six-rotation player entering her junior season and has been effective in that role, adding 2.62 digs per set and a .982 reception percentage.
• Foecke was a unanimous preseason All-Big Ten selection and was one of just two players to earn a unanimous selection (Minnesota setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson).
• Foecke was the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player in 2015 - becoming just the third freshman to earn the honor - after 19 kills on .385 hitting in the championship win against Texas. The other freshmen to win the award were Deja McClendon (Penn State, 2010) and Kerri Walsh (Stanford, 1996).
Albrecht Steps Up as Senior Captain
• Senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht was named a team captain along with Kelly Hunter prior to the season and has stepped into her new role as a six-rotation hitter for the Huskers.
• Albrecht is second on the team in kills with 3.05 per set and adds 2.78 digs per set and nine service aces. She ranks 10th in school history in career aces with 114.
• The North Aurora, Illinois native made national headlines this season when she tallied a career-high 19 kills on .400 hitting in a 3-0 sweep at Penn State on Sept. 22. For her performance, Albrecht was named the Big Ten Player of the Week, Sports Imports/AVCA Player of the Week and the espnW Player of the Week. The honors were all the first of her career.
Holman Leads Husker Middle Blockers
• Senior Briana Holman guides a relatively young group of Husker middle blockers, as she teams with redshirt freshman Lauren Stivrins and is backed up by true freshman Chesney McClellan.
• Holman is averaging 2.43 kills and a team-best 1.16 blocks per set for the Huskers while hitting a team-best .333. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 5 and the MVP of the Ameritas Players Challenge after a dominating display over three matches with 25 kills and 18 blocks on .525 hitting.
• Holman earned AVCA All-Region honors for the third time in her career last season and received All-Big Ten honorable mention.
• Holman was a first-team AVCA All-American at LSU in 2014 with 3.94 kills and 1.47 blocks per set. She was a two-time All-SEC performer for the Tigers and represented the U.S. Collegiate National Team at the World University Games in South Korea in July 2015.
Huskers Turn to Freshmen for Instant Impact
• With five true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen on the roster, the Huskers needed some new talent to step up in a big way in 2017, and that has happened.
• Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lauren Stivrins is averaging 2.25 kills per set and has started every match.
• Freshman outside hitter Jazz Sweet is third on the team in kills at 2.55 per set and is hitting .304. Sweet had an outstanding debut with 14 kills on .375 hitting against Oregon and 16 kills on .323 hitting at Florida.
• Redshirt freshman setter Hunter Atherton has made two starts and played in seven matches with an average of 6.14 assists and 1.82 digs per set. Atherton also has five service aces, third-most on the team.
• Freshman outside hitter Anezka Szabo, who plays the same right-side hitter position as Sweet, tallied 10 kills on .400 hitting against Saint Mary’s and has played in nine matches.
Huskers Ranked No. 8 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 8 in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll, up six spots from No. 14 last week.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 98 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 460 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 516 AVCA Coaches Polls since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every poll all-time.
Cook Adds to Legacy; Will Join AVCA Hall of Fame in December
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 18th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2017. He has led the Huskers to three national championships, seven final fours, 11 conference championships and 15 top-10 final rankings since 2000. Cook has 669 career wins and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history.
• Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .882 win percentage in that time (508-68).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 49 AVCA All-Americans and 19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a six-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016, his first Big Ten honor with the Huskers in their Big Ten era (2011-present).
• Cook was named the AVCA North Region Coach of the Year this season, his fifth career regional coaching honor and fourth while at Nebraska.
• Cook is one of only four active coaches - and one of six all-time - to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award.
• Cook will be inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in December in Kansas City, Missouri. Cook will join former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall.
Husker Fans Set Attendance Standard Once Again
• Nebraska fans led the nation in attendance for a fourth straight season as their 8,210 average per match in 2016 established a new NCAA attendance record, topping its 2015 average of 8,206.
• The Huskers’ total attendance of 155,986 in 19 home matches also set a school record.
• In 2013, the Huskers led the nation in attendance (8,175) for the first time since 1992, ending Hawaii’s 21-year reign as the national leader.
• The Huskers repeated as attendance champions in 2014 with 8,083 fans per match, which included a school-record 8,585 fans at the Oct. 3 win against Penn State.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top three nationally in attendance every season since 1990 (27 straight seasons).
• The Huskers have sold out every regular-season match since 2001, a streak of 224 consecutive matches, the longest sellout streak in the history of NCAA women’s athletics.
• The Devaney Center has hosted the three largest regular-season crowds in NCAA history and seven of the 10 largest.
Huskers Get Depth From Former Husker Women’s Basketball Player Allie Havers
• The Huskers gained some depth at middle blocker when former Husker women’s basketball player Allie Havers joined the team in the spring.
• Havers, a 6-5 native of Mattawan, Michigan, has one season of eligibility to play volleyball, a sport she excelled at in high school. Havers was a first-team Class A all-state player in Michigan in 2012 and a finalist for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball in 2013.
• On the Nebraska women’s basketball team, Havers closed her career having played in 125 games with 50 starts. She ranked among the top 50 career scorers (720 points) and top 25 career rebounders (541) in Husker history.
Cook’s Coaching Tree Continues to Grow
• Nebraska head coach John Cook’s assistant coaches have a great track record of moving on to become head coaches.
• After the 2016 season, Nebraska assistants Chris Tamas and Dani Busboom Kelly both accepted high-level Division I head coaching jobs. Busboom Kelly became the head coach at Louisville, while Tamas accepted the head coaching job at Big Ten foe Illinois.
• Seven assistants under Cook have become head coaches following their time on Cook’s Nebraska staff: Craig Skinner (Kentucky), Lee Maes (Virginia), Lizzy Stemke (Georgia), Dan Conners (UC Davis), Dan Meske (Augustana, Associate Head Coach at Louisville), Busboom Kelly and Tamas.
• In the last seven years, five of Cook’s Husker assistants have become head coaches.
New Players, New Coaches
• Not only are six of the 15 Husker players new to the program, so are the two Husker assistant coaches. Former Husker and U.S. Olympic libero Kayla Banwarth, and former Long Beach State men’s associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand are on the Husker bench this year.
• Hildebrand joined the Nebraska coaching staff as an assistant in February of 2017. Hildebrand came to Nebraska after five seasons on the coaching staff of the Long Beach State men’s volleyball program, including two seasons as associate head coach. In 2017, he was the AVCA Division I-II Men’s National Assistant Coach of the Year. A former All-American at Long Beach State, Hildebrand was the top assistant there from 2013-15 after a decorated playing career on the U.S. Men’s National Team. He is a former setter who coordinated both the offense and the blocking defense at Long Beach State at one point in his career.
• Banwarth joined the Nebraska volleyball coaching staff as an assistant in January of 2017. Banwarth completed an illustrious playing career for the Huskers in 2010 before embarking on a professional playing career that saw her win an Olympic bronze medal with the U.S. National Team, as well as an FIVB World Championship. Banwarth is relatively new to the coaching profession after finishing her professional career with the U.S. National Team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. A U.S. National Team libero since 2011, Banwarth spent two years as a volunteer assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team.