Freshman outside hitter Jazz Sweet was named Nebraska's Outstanding 2017-18 Female Newcomer of the Year.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Sweet, Teammates Eager to Get Championship Rings

By Randy York

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Jazz Sweet, the Nebraska Athletic Department’s Outstanding 2017-18 Female Newcomer of the Year, delivered everything expected from a talented freshman.

 A 6-foot-3 outside hitter from Tecumseh, Kan., Sweet played a pivotal role in the Huskers’ 2017 NCAA National Volleyball Championship in Kansas City.

 Sweet’s expectations will be incrementally elevated in 2018.

 Talk about a picture-perfect launch pad for volleyball to join football in the springtime of their respective   2018 seasons.

 Make sure you stay in your seats at halftime Saturday because the Huskers’ 2017 national championship volleyball players and coaches will receive their coveted rings.

What a great opportunity for a nationally televised (BTN) football game to include the unparalleled stature of Nebraska volleyball.

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost's remarkable return to his alma mater just might create the biggest roar in Husker history.

Frost’s return to Tom Osborne Field will set the tone for the first reverberation inside Memorial Stadium. Imagine the atmosphere in front of a sold-out crowd of 90,000 fans.

Husker fans also will show their love and respect for Nebraska’s 2017 national volleyball title at halftime.

Huskers Waited Long Time for Championship Rings

 “We’ve been waiting a long time to get our national championship rings,” Sweet told me, acknowledging how fast the past four months evaporated.

 “We’re all hard-working people, so we can hardly wait to get our rings on while we’re standing in line on Memorial Stadium,” Sweet said.

 “We’ve worked so hard to earn those rings, and we’re just as excited as everyone else to see Coach Frost and all of his assistants on Saturday,” Sweet said. “It’s going to be a really exciting day for everyone, especially for the players and the coaches who are working so hard to represent Nebraska.”

Sweet was 14 years old when she was dominating 17-year-old high school volleyball players while growing up in Kansas. Her first year at Nebraska has been everything she envisioned it to be.

“Winning the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA national title as a freshman were magical moments for me,” said Sweet, describing why that experience proves to her that There Is No Place Like Nebraska.

“I knew that early on,” she said. “The facilities, the people, the fans, the support, the academics and the legacy of those who played on the court before you was enough for me.”

Nebraska’s Culture Made Recruiting an Easy Sale

Nebraska’s culture made recruiting an easy sale. “I came to Lincoln for positive reasons,” Sweet said. “My future plans are my family and teammates. They’re a big part of wanting to be the best I can be.”  

Even at a tender young age, Jazz Sweet likes the road she chose. She was “definitely surprised” to receive the Outstanding Newcomer of the Year award at the Lied Center two weekends ago.

“There were so many great candidates up for that award,” Sweet said. “It was a really memorable night for all of our student-athletes. What a great venue right next to our campus. My mom and dad really liked it. We’ve never been to a banquet that big.”

Motivation multiplied after that recent amazing night. “I want to be the best I can be not only for my coaches and teammates. I want to make my family proud,” Sweet said.

Even though she has not completed her first year at Nebraska, Sweet appreciates the life lessons she continues to learn.

“I believe in having an attitude of gratitude,” she said, “because the best things in life are hard to reach.

“You have to work even harder to achieve the goals you set,” Sweet said. “I believe in my God-given abilities and trust the rigorous training that we have year-round.”  

 Sweet Wants Reinvention of Herself, Teammates

What comes next? “A lot of hard work this summer,” she said. “I want a reinvention of myself and teammates. We’re all figuring out what we need to do on and off the court to have a family-like bond.

“We want to look our best the day we walk onto that court come this fall,” she said. “I have a lot of work to do to become the All-American player I want to be.”

Setting goals has been almost a lifetime pursuit for Sweet, who played in all 125 sets and had a 2.22 kills per set on .273 hitting in her freshman season as a Husker.

Sweet was an immediate favorite throughout her freshman season. She had 14 kills on .375 hitting in her first collegiate match against Oregon. That was a great start, but she was at her best in Nebraska’s national championship matches in Kansas City.

Who can forget Sweet’s 12 kills and .375 hitting against Penn State in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals against major rival Penn State?

That was a big step for a freshman who had seven kills and .400 hitting in her first-ever NCAA match.

A PrepVolleyball.com All-America honorable mention honoree, Sweet was named to the All-Big Ten Conference freshman team in her inaugural collegiate season.

Sweet on Cook: He Transforms Us as People

Sweet “loves” John Cook's coaching style. “I really like the point he’s at in his coaching career,” she said. “He puts everything he can into the product. He transforms us as people, not just players.

“We all have to grow as players and as people and I really like that,” Sweet said. “Coach Cook has created a great way to take that big leap with hard work and teamwork.

“We’re here to grow as people and players, and that’s very appealing to me,” Sweet said.

Because it was a conference opponent as well as an NCAA Tournament rival, the Penn State match became a constant reminder for the subtle messages that Sweet learned from her coaches.

Jazz was fully equipped to help Nebraska win a national championship and is every bit as driven now to do whatever she can to win back-to-back championships.

“I’m excited to see our football coaches and players this weekend,” she said, “and I’m motivated to put the championship rings on our fingers. It’s a great way to remind all of us what it takes to win."

                                                                                                                      

Nebraska 2017-18 Student-Athlete Award Winners

Send a comment to ryork@huskers.com (Please include city, state)

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