Lincoln - A total of 14 matches against NCAA qualifiers, including non-conference showdowns against Illinois, Kentucky and Florida, highlight the 2010 Nebraska volleyball schedule released Friday. The schedule, which includes 13 home matches, will provide the Huskers with ample challenges throughout the season, as Nebraska plays its first six matches away from the NU Coliseum, including the Runza/AVCA Showcase and a two-day tournament at BYU.
"This schedule will test us throughout the year," Nebraska Coach John Cook said. "The reason we scheduled this way is because we want to be ready for start of the Big 12. We also try to play at least one match close to our players' hometowns, and the trip to BYU allows us to do that for Sydney (Anderson)."
Season-ticket holders will receive their 2010 renewal and pricing information this week. Tickets for all of Nebraska's home matches, including the Devaney Center match against Illinois on Sept. 11, will go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 8 a.m. online at Huskers.com, by calling the NU Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED or by visiting the Ticket Office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
In addition, tickets for the annual Red/White Scrimmage are now on sale with prices set at $10 (reserved) and $8 (general admission) and can be purchased on Huskers.com or by calling 800-8-BIGRED.
As announced previously, the Huskers will open the 2010 season in Omaha, taking on SEC powers Kentucky and Florida at the Runza/AVCA Showcase, Aug. 28-29. The four-team field also includes regional semifinalist Iowa State, as all four programs finished in the top-15 of the final AVCA poll in 2009. Tickets for the Runza/AVCA Showcase are on sale at Ticketmaster.com and at Ticketmaster outlets across the state.
"I think this year's Runza/AVCA Showcase has the potential to be one of the best ever because of the number of returnees that are back for each team," Cook said. "All four of the teams probably know what their lineup will be already and what they want to play, and that should make the Showcase one of the most competitive we've been involved in."
The early-season road trip continues with a match at Creighton (Aug. 31) and a two-day tournament at BYU (Sept. 3-4) before the Huskers return home for the annual Ameritas Players Challenge, Sept. 9-11.
The 2010 field includes Illinois, which returns five starters from a team that was 26-6 and ranked 10th nationally, a Dayton team that went 30-4 and was ranked 25th in the final AVCA poll and Western Michigan, which went 24-11 last season. The first two days of action will take place in the NU Coliseum with the final day, featuring the matchup between the Huskers and the Fighting Illini, taking place at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday, Sept. 11.
"We feel that the Ameritas Players Challenge is one of the premier tournaments in the country," Cook said. "We know Illinois is a top-five team. Dayton is an experienced team that beat everyone they faced in the spring and has the potential to be in the top 15 during the season. Western Michigan is a program that has been very successful in recent years, including a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 two years ago. By the time we finish our non-conference schedule, we should be battle-tested for the Big 12."
The Huskers will begin conference play on Sept. 15, when they travel to Iowa State to take on a Cyclone team that finished sixth in the final AVCA poll. After sending a nation-leading five teams to NCAA Regionals in 2009, Cook believes the conference could be just as good in 2010.
"Last year, I kept saying that the Big 12 is as tough as any conference in the country, and I think the NCAA Tournament and our league's RPI showed that was the case," Cook said. "This year, a couple of teams will be hit with graduation, but those teams have a lot of talent in their program and there is no reason to think that the Big 12 will take a step back this year. I wouldn't be surprised if there are three teams in the top-10 like we saw last year. I think that is a realistic expectation for league this year."