Lincoln -- The Nebraska volleyball team begins the spring portion of its schedule this weekend, as the Huskers travel to Arizona State this Saturday, April 10. First serve is at 4 p.m. (mountain) and will be the first of three spring matches for the Huskers.
Admission at Wells Fargo Arena is free and a large turnout of Husker fans may be expected, as Phoenix is home to one of the largest Husker alumni groups in the country, as well as a return home for outside hitter and Scottsdale native Tara Mueller.
“This is a great opportunity for our team, and we had two reasons for playing at Arizona State,” Nebraska Coach John Cook said. “We always look for opportunities to have our players play at least one match close to home, and I know Tara and her family are very excited about this weekend. Second, we wanted to test our team and play a quality Pac-10 team also that has high expectations for the coming year. “It will be a good test to see where we are at this point in the spring, and what we need to work on and improve over the next few weeks.”
Both teams enter the 2010 season with experienced rosters. The Sun Devils bring back six starters from a team that went 13-17 for Coach Jason Watson, who is beginning his third year at ASU.
The Huskers also return six starters, including AVCA All-American Sydney Anderson, Brooke Delano and Tara Mueller, from a team that won 26 matches before losing in the 2009 Omaha Regional final.
The Huskers welcome back 12 players who saw action in 2009, as well as redshirt freshman Hayley Thramer. In addition, newcomers Lauren Cook and Morgan Broekhuis both enrolled in January and are eligible for spring matches.
“This is an unusual year for us with 15 players in the gym in the spring,” Cook said. “For a coach, it’s a great opportunity since we usually don’t have enough players to scrimmage this time of the year. We have been able to have full-scale scrimmages in the gym every day, and that has helped us be ahead of where we are at this time of year.”
Cook has been pleased with the effort and spirit the team has brought to the gym since beginning team workouts last month.
“The biggest thing in the spring has been the work ethic and the competitiveness we have had in the gym every day,” Cook said. “Sometimes, you have that at 1-2 positions open in the spring, but to have it at almost every position makes it fun to coach in the gym every day.”
Nebraska fans will have their first opportunity to see the new-look Huskers in action next weekend, as NU hosts Illinois on Saturday, April 17, at 7 p.m. Over 3,500 tickets have been sold in advance and fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance on Huskers.com or by calling 800-8-BIGRED.