Nebraska's volleyball team received well deserved applause from another sellout Memorial Stadium crowd Saturday night, and head coach John Cook said the cheers were meaningful for a history-making team. "This is the first time we've been available during football season since we won the national championship in 2006 and got lucky with a bye week so we could be honored at a football game in 2007," Cook said.
For a program as successful as Nebraska volleyball, that's a long wait to hear the Memorial Roar. George W. Bush was still in the White House, and the Huskers were honored along with other NCAA Championship teams on the South Lawn in mid-June of 2007 before they were recognized by their own loyal fans that fall.
Because Big 12 volleyball games were on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Nebraska was unable to honor conference championship teams on football Saturdays, choosing instead to honor those teams at basketball games.
"We made history when we won Nebraska's first Big Ten championship in any sport, and it felt good to be able to say that in my speaking engagements last spring," Cook said. "Our girls were really motivated to do that last year. It was important to them, and they found a way to make it happen. I mean, nobody else in the Big Ten had been able to break Penn State's eight straight conference championships until we joined the league. It was a major accomplishment, and I don't know if people always recognize how big of an accomplishment that was."
Making it even bigger was Nebraska winning the conference title after Penn State also had won four straight national championships. "The Big Ten is a grueling, grinding conference," Cook said. "We had seven teams ranked in the top 25. The difference in the Big Ten is everybody thinks they're going to win every time they take the court. It doesn't matter what your record is. Every team I've seen play comes into the match thinking they're going to win."
Nebraska faces two road matches this weekend. At 7 p.m. Friday, the Huskers play at No. 12 Purdue in a BTN televised match in West Lafayette. At 6 p.m. Saturday, Nebraska plays Indiana in Bloomington. Both matches will be carried on the Husker Sports Network, including anchor stations B107.3FM in Lincoln and The Wolf 93.3 in Omaha.
The link at the top of this column is the audio for Cook's regular Monday press conference and includes his thoughts on why he favors volleyball as a spring sport instead of a fall sport.