Chicago, Ill. - The Nebraska volleyball team has been picked to finish in a tie for second with Illinois in its first season as a member of the Big Ten Conference by the league's coaches. Eight-time defending champion Penn State has been selected as the conference favorite for the seventh straight season, while Purdue, Minnesota and Michigan State round out the rest of the top five.
The conference office also announced its Preseason All-Big Ten Team on Wednesday, with three Huskers being honored, including unanimous selection Brooke Delano. Delano was joined by juniors Hannah Werth and Lauren Cook, as the Huskers were one of three teams, along with Penn State and Purdue, as the only programs with more than two honorees.
A two-time AVCA All-American and first-team honoree last season, Delano was one of five players to be named on every ballot. A senior from Bellevue, Neb., Delano ranked in the top 10 nationally in 2010 in both hitting percentage (.406) and blocks per set (1.42). She was the fourth Husker in NU history to hit over .400 during a season with her .406 mark in 2010.
The Husker defense will rely on Werth, the 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, even more in 2011 following the departure of libero Kayla Banwarth. Werth was one of four sophomore nationally to be named an AVCA All-American in 2010 with her second-team selection and was a first-team All-Big 12 pick a year ago. She notched a team-high 10 double-doubles in 2010 after totaling 13 double-doubles in 2009.
After running a 6-2 system last season with Cook and two-time AVCA All-American Sydney Anderson, Cook will pilot the Husker offense this season as the team's starting setter. Named the 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after transferring from UCLA, Cook helped the Huskers hit .300 or better in 14 matches, including two matches over .400.
Fans will have their first opportunity to see the Huskers at the Red/White Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available online at Huskers.com or by calling 1-800-8-BIGRED.