2000 NCAA Champions
Nebraska entered the 2000 season with a No. 11 preseason ranking and an eagerness to prove the pollsters wrong. Competing with a new coach, a new setter and without two-time All-American Nancy Metcalf (Meendering) didn't scare the Huskers. A trio of sophomore All-Americans, including AVCA Player of the Year Greichaly Cepero, emerged to lead NU to a 34-0 record and the program's second national title. With a 3-2 win over Wisconsin Dec. 15 in the championship final, the Huskers became just the second team in NCAA history to finish a season undefeated. First-year Head Coach John Cook earned AVCA Coach-of-the-Year honors.
In the first match, Nebraska relied on its greatest strength, its block, to stifle Hawaii at the net in a 3-1 victory. The Huskers out-blocked the Rainbow Wahine 23-7.5 as Jenny Kropp and Amber Holmquist each tallied 10 block assists. With the win, the Huskers broke the school record for consecutive victories in the modern era of five-game matches. NU produced 36 victories in 1976 when all matches were played as two-out-of-three contests.
After falling behind 2-1, Nebraska breezed to a 15-2 win in the fourth game to force a rally-scoring fifth game for the national title. With senior Kim Behrends at the service line, Laura Pilakowski slammed her 23rd kill of the game to secure the championship. Pilakowski was joined on the NCAA All-Tournament team by classmates Greichaly Cepero and Amber Holmquist. Cepero added 52 assists, eight digs, eight kills and seven blocks, while Amber Holmquist added 16 kills on a .387 hitting efficiency with five blocks.
Highlighting the 2000 Season
- Nebraska claimed its 23rd Big Eight/Big 12 championship in 25 seasons. With a 20-0 run through the league, the Huskers improved their all-time mark against Big 12 schools to 375-32-1, an amazing .919 winning percentage.
- Nebraska, ranked No. 1 in the AVCA/USA Today Coaches poll for 14 straight weeks, swept 26 of its 34 opponents and 17 of its 20 just five games in Big 12 play. Only three teams took NU to five games.
- Amber Holmquist shattered three Nebraska single-season blocking records, setting new marks with 199 block assists, 220 total blocks and 1.98 blocks per game. Holmquist also broke the Big 12 record for total blocks in a single game with 16 at Texas on Oct. 22.
- Nebraska bettered its own NCAA record for single-match home attendance, as 12,504 fans cheered the Huskers to a 3-0 win over Colorado, Nov. 4, at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Quoting Coach John Cook
"If there are 10 teams better than us, I think it's going to be a heck of a year in college volleyball, because believe me, we're going to be pretty good."
-- Cook before the 2000 season