Lincoln, Neb. -- The University of Nebraska volleyball team will play host to the first-ever Nebraska Volleyball Classic Sunday, Sept. 29. The event will feature the state?s four major volleyball programs in competition at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Division II powers Nebraska-Omaha and Nebraska-Kearney will meet at 2 p.m., and Division I rivals Nebraska and Creighton will play at 4 p.m.
The Nebraska Volleyball Classic will feature 32 players from the state, as UNO and UNK each list 13 Nebraska natives on their rosters, while Nebraska lists four and Creighton has two.
Tickets for the event will be sold as a package and are $8 for reserved seating, $6 for general admission and $4 for students and can be purchased online at www.huskers.com, or by calling the Nebraska Ticket Office at 1-800-8BIGRED. Single-match volleyball tickets go on sale Aug. 1. The Nebraska Volleyball Classic is included in the season ticket package.
?There is so much volleyball talent in this state at all levels,? NU Coach John Cook said. ?This event will showcase that. I think it?s important to provide an opportunity for volleyball fans across the state, especially young girls, to have the chance to watch and learn from the state?s best volleyball players. We are very excited to be hosting this event.?
All four schools participating in the event have a strong volleyball tradition.
Nebraska returns eight letterwinners and four starters from its 2001 team that finished with a 31-2 record and advanced to the program?s eighth NCAA Final Four. Three AVCA All-Americans highlight Nebraska?s 2002 roster, including senior setter Greichaly Cepero, senior middle blocker Amber Holmquist and senior outside hitter Laura Pilakowski.
NU, which has won 24 Big Eight/Big 12 Conference titles, made its 20th straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001.
Creighton returns seven letterwinners from its 2001 team that produced a 14-13 record, including sophomore Ashley Williams, who was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Newcomer team. However, the Bluejays, who posted a school-record 12 MVC wins last season, will have to replace three-time All-MVC selection Melissa Walsh, who owns the Creighton career kills record with 1,596.
?We are really looking forward to joining UNK, UNO, and UNL in the Nebraska Volleyball Classic,? Creighton Coach Howard Wallace said. ?It will be a celebration of volleyball of sorts - especially for our players from Nebraska. What better way to share our sport with the state of Nebraska??
UNK returns eight letterwinners from the 2001 squad that went 28-6 overall and 16-3 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Lopers earned their sixth NCAA Division II Tournament bid and advanced to Southwest Regional Finals before finishing the season ranked 12th. The Lopers have averaged 28 wins per season since the program began in 1968, and they have gone 87-16 over the past three seasons. UNK has led the nation in attendance in Division II seven of the past eight years, averaging nearly 1,000 fans per match.
?We are very excited about the opportunity to participate in this unique event,? UNK Head Coach Rick Squiers said. ?We think it will be a showcase for Nebraska collegiate volleyball and a chance for fans to enjoy two great matches featuring many players from the state and the region. We hope to see a great turnout.?
UNO returns its entire starting lineup from 2001, and the Mavericks also return two-time AVCA All-American Nikki Mastney, who did not play last season because of a back injury. UNO struggled last season with an inexperienced lineup, but the program has a succesful tradition. The Mavericks, who have won eight North Central Conference titles, have qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament 13 times. UNO has advanced to the Final Four five times and won the 1996 NCAA Division II national championship.
?This is a great opportunity for Nebraska volleyball fans to witness top-level Division I and Division II competition from the state of Nebraska,? UNO Head Coach Rose Shires said. ?The cross section of Division I and Division II fans will be able to experience both levels of play. The majority of the athletes in this competition are from the state of Nebraska, and it will definitely showcase Nebraska volleyball talent.?