Huskers to Battle Spartans, Wolverines
• After a successful East Coast road trip last weekend, the No. 3 Nebraska volleyball team is back on the road again this week for two matches. The Huskers will battle the Michigan State Spartans on Thursday at 7 p.m. (CT) at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. NU will then travel to Ann Arbor for a 6 p.m. (CT) match on Saturday against the No. 24 Michigan Wolverines.
• Nebraska (12-1, 4-0 Big Ten) has won its first four matches to start the Big Ten schedule and has won five in a row overall. Entering the week, Purdue is the only other Big Ten team still without a conference loss.
• The Huskers were on the road for four days last week playing at Rutgers and Maryland and will spend four days on the road this week. By the time the road swing is over on Saturday night, the Huskers will have been away from home eight of the previous 10 days.
• Thursday's match at Michigan State will be televised on the Big Ten Network and can be streamed on FoxSports.com. Saturday's match at Michigan will not be televised but will be streamed online on B1G+ (subscription required).
• The Huskers Radio Network will broadcast all the action on their radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and the Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 29th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.
NOTING THE HUSKERS
• The Huskers are hitting .241 as a team and are holding their opponents to .118 hitting, which leads the nation.
• Against Rutgers last Friday, Nebraska hit a season-best .405 and held Rutgers to -.012, the first time the Huskers have held a Big Ten foe to a negative hitting percentage since 2019.
• Nebraska outscored Rutgers 75-35. The school record for fewest points allowed in a match in the rally-scoring era is 32.
• The Huskers served a season-high 12 aces against the Scarlet Knights.
• Nebraska fought past Maryland on Sunday for a 3-1 win despite being blocked 18.5 times, the third-most by a Husker opponent in the rally-scoring era.
• The Huskers were sharp defensively in the match, holding Maryland to .059 hitting and posting 13 blocks of their own.
• Outside hitter Madi Kubik is averaging a team-high 3.31 kills per set and adds 2.29 digs per set. Kubik surpassed 1,000 career kills on Sept. 10 against Long Beach State, becoming the 24th Husker all-time to reach that mark.
• Outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein is averaging 3.16 kills per set and has a team-high 12 service aces. Lauenstein had a career-high 25 kills on .385 hitting in a win at No. 17 Creighton on Sept. 7. It was the most kills by a Husker in a match since Mikaela Foecke had 27 kills in the NCAA Championship match against Stanford in 2018.
• Middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord is averaging 1.47 kills and a team-best .322 hitting percentage and 1.44 blocks per set, which ranks 14th nationally. Hord ranks among the NCAA active career leaders in three categories. Entering the week, the Penn State grad transfer ranks No. 2 among active NCAA Division I players in career blocks (587), No. 3 in blocks per set (1.32) and is No. 4 in career hitting percentage (.403).
• Sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez is averaging a team-best 4.08 digs per set and has 59 set assists and 10 service aces on the season. Rodriguez is the reigning AVCA National Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
• Senior defensive specialist Kenzie Knuckles averages 1.91 digs and has 10 kills, 10 aces and nine set assists. Knuckles and Rodriguez are part of a dynamic Husker back row that has helped the Huskers lead the Big Ten in digs at 15.29 per set.
• Sophomore Lindsay Krause averages 2.12 kills per set for the Big Red.
• Freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick is putting up 1.76 kills per set on .302 hitting with 1.07 blocks per set.
• Nebraska opened the season in a 5-1 system but has been in a 6-2 system since Sept. 1 against Loyola Marymount. Three setters have all been involved for the Huskers this season: Kennedi Orr (5.34 assists per set), Anni Evans (5.00 assists per set) and Nicklin Hames (4.35 assists per set).
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE
• The Huskers will battle the Spartans less than two weeks after Nebraska beat Michigan State, 25-15, 25-19, 25-23, in Lincoln on Sept. 23.
• Michigan State is 10-5 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play. The Spartans beat Maryland (3-2) and have losses to the Huskers (0-3), at Rutgers (2-3) and at No. 12 Penn State (1-3). All four of Michigan State's Big Ten matches thus far have been on the road. Thursday's match will be the Spartans' Big Ten home opener in their new home, the Breslin Center, which has a volleyball capacity of 6,822.
• Michigan State is hitting .220 and allowing opponents to hit .176.
• Nalani Iosia ranks third in the Big Ten with 4.12 digs per set.
• Aliyah Moore leads the team with 2.88 kills per set.
• At 12-2 (3-1 Big Ten), Michigan entered the AVCA Coaches Poll at No. 24 this week. The Wolverines have begun Big Ten play with wins at Rutgers (3-0), at No. 9 Penn State (3-0) and at Northwestern (3-1). Their only loss was at home to No. 6 Ohio State (1-3). Before Saturday's match-up, Michigan will host No. 11 Minnesota on Friday night.
• Michigan is the top hitting team in the Big Ten with a .287 average this season. The Wolverines have an opponent hitting percentage of .150, which ranks 10th nationally.
• Jess Mruzik leads the Wolverines with 3.80 kills per set, while Jess Robinson adds 2.63 kills per set and Kendall Murray chips in 2.61 per set. Robinson has the best hitting percentage in the nation this season this season at .498.
• Libero Hannah Grant leads the Big Ten with 27 service aces this season.
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 24-2-2. The Huskers have won 13 in a row in the series dating back to 2013. The Spartans' last win was 3-1 on Oct. 12, 2013 in East Lansing. In the meeting two weeks ago in Lincoln, the Huskers trailed for only two rallies the entire match.
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Michigan, 20-3. The Huskers have won 12 matches in a row against the Wolverines. Michigan's last win was Oct. 12, 2014 in Ann Arbor. The teams played last season in Lincoln on Oct. 21 - a 25-14, 25-15, 25-13 Husker sweep.
HUSKERS RANKED NO. 3 IN AVCA POLL
• Nebraska is ranked No. 3 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week.
• The Huskers were ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the first time since 2016 the Huskers started a year atop the poll. Nebraska has been ranked No. 1 in 101 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 522 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 578 AVCA Coaches Polls it has been eligible for since it was established in 1982. Nebraska is the only program to be ranked in every eligible poll all-time.
KNUCKLES, KUBIK, RODRIGUEZ NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS
• The three team captains for the Nebraska volleyball program in 2022 are senior defensive specialist Kenzie Knuckles, outside hitter Madi Kubik and sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez.
• After two years as NU's libero, Knuckles moved into a defensive specialist role last season and was named a team captain for the first time. She averaged 2.06 digs with 0.29 aces per set. Knuckles finished with a double-digit dig performance seven times and ranked 10th in Big Ten play for aces per set (0.31). Knuckles also contributed 52 kills as an attacker out of the back row.
• Kubik was an AVCA third-team All-American in 2021, and she received first-team AVCA North All-Region and first-team All-Big Ten honors. She averaged a team-leading 3.49 kills per set to go with 2.11 digs while adding 21 aces and 55 blocks. Kubik ranked third in Big Ten play in kills per set with 4.11.
• Rodriguez was recognized as the National Freshman of the Year, a first-team AVCA All-American, North Region Freshman of the Year and first-team North All-Region by the AVCA in 2021. She was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection.
AVCA HALL OF FAMER JOHN COOK IN 23RD SEASON AT NEBRASKA
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 23rd season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2022. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, 10 final fours, 12 conference championships and 20 top-10 final rankings since 2000.
• Cook has 803 career wins and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history. Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .874 win percentage (642-93).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 57 AVCA All-Americans and 19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a seven-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017, his first and second Big Ten honors with the Huskers in their Big Ten era (2011-present).
• Cook is one of only three active coaches - and one of six all-time - to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award.
• Cook was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2017, joining former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall.
REYES STEPS INTO LEAD ASSISTANT ROLE
• Last December, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jaylen Reyes moved into the Huskers' lead assistant role following the departure of associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand, who was named the new head women's volleyball coach at Long Beach State.
• Reyes joined the Husker staff in March 2018. As the Huskers' recruiting coordinator, he has helped NU land the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for 2021 and the No. 2 class for 2022, according to PrepVolleyball.com.
• Reyes coaches the Husker liberos and defense while helping coordinate game plans and scouting reports and assisting with other positions.
• In 2021, Nebraska boasted an elite defense and held opposing teams to just .148 hitting for the year. A former libero at BYU, Reyes led Nebraska's back row defense to unprecedented heights in the 2021 season. Led by AVCA first-team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Lexi Rodriguez, the Husker defense propelled the young squad all the way to the NCAA Championship match. Rodriguez set a Nebraska freshman record for digs in a season (524), and as a team the Huskers averaged 16.98 digs per set, the third-highest total in school history.
HUNTER EARNS FULL-TIME ASSISTANT POSITION AT ALMA MATER
• Last December, volunteer assistant coach Kelly Hunter was promoted to a full-time assistant role for the Huskers beginning in 2022.
• Following her professional playing career overseas, Hunter joined the Husker staff two years ago. She has served in multiple roles as a volunteer assistant (2020-21), interim assistant coach (January-August 2020) and graduate assistant (2019). She fulfilled her stint as an interim assistant coach in 2020 while former associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand prepared for the 2020 Olympic Games prior to his arrival in Lincoln.
• Hunter set the Huskers to national championships in 2015 and 2017 and was a two-time All-American. She was also the 2017 Big Ten Setter of the Year and a two-time All-Big Ten selection. The three-year Husker captain received numerous honors from volleyball publications, including National Player of the Year and All-America first-team honors from PrepVolleyball.com. Hunter was also named co-Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship with teammate Mikaela Foecke after the Huskers beat Florida in the national title match in 2017.
CLOSING IN ON 300 CONSECUTIVE REGULAR-SEASON SELLOUTS
• All season and single-game tickets for the 2022 Nebraska volleyball season have been sold. The Huskers entered the season with 286 consecutive regular-season sellouts and - barring any cancellations - will celebrate their 300th consecutive regular-season sellout on Nov. 11 against Iowa.
• Nebraska's sellout streak is an NCAA women's record. The Huskers have led the nation in attendance every season since moving into the Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013.
• Nebraska set a new school record for attendance - 8,632 - against No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 18, 2019.
• A new NCAA attendance record was set at the 2021 NCAA Championship with 18,755 fans turning out to watch Wisconsin and Nebraska battle for the national title at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio last December.
• Eight of the top nine crowds in NCAA Volleyball history are all matches that have involved the Huskers.
• When Nebraska played at Creighton on Sept. 7 at the CHI Health Center, a regular-season NCAA record crowd of 15,797 turned out to watch the Huskers defeat the Bluejays, 3-2. It shattered the previous regular-season record of 14,022 (set by Nebraska and Creighton in 2018). The record lasted nine days, however, as Wisconsin and Florida drew a crowd of 16,833 to the Kohl Center on Sept. 16.
• Of the 14 largest NCAA volleyball regular-season crowds, 13 have been matches Nebraska played in.
OMAHA TO HOST NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THIRD TIME IN EIGHT YEARS
• The NCAA Championship returns to Omaha in 2022 for the third time in the last eight years and the fifth time overall. The University of Nebraska and the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) will host the NCAA Championship at the CHI Health Center on Dec. 15-17.
• Omaha has served as the most frequent host of the NCAA Championship in the 41-year history of the tournament. Omaha has hosted the event four times: 2006, 2008, 2015 and 2020.
• Omaha hosted the entire 48-team NCAA Tournament in April 2021 after the 2020 season was delayed until the spring because of COVID-19. Kentucky beat Texas, 3-1, to win its first NCAA title that season.
• The Huskers won NCAA titles in Omaha in both 2006 (vs. Stanford) and 2015 (vs. Texas), and the Big Red reached the final four in 2008 before losing a five-set thriller to Penn State in the semifinals.
• Four of the top 11 crowds in NCAA history have occurred at the NCAA Semifinals and Finals played at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.
• Future NCAA Volleyball Championship sites include Tampa (2023), Louisville (2024) and Kansas City (2025).
HORD HEADLINES TALENTED GROUP OF NEW HUSKERS
• Nebraska has five new players on its roster this season: Penn State graduate transfer Kaitlyn Hord (Lexington, Ky.), freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick (Lincoln, Neb.), freshman defensive specialist Maisie Boesiger (Firth, Neb.), freshman outside hitter Hayden Kubik (West Des Moines, Iowa) and freshman middle blocker Maggie Mendelson (Ogden, Utah). The Huskers' signing class was the No. 2-ranked class by PrepVolleyball.
• The 6-4 Hord was named to the AVCA All-America Second Team and was a first-team All-Big Ten choice for the third straight season last year at Penn State. She averaged a career-best 2.92 kills per set while hitting .394. Hord recorded 1.40 blocks per set, which ranked third in the Big Ten and seventh nationally.
NINETEEN TV APPEARANCES FOR THE BIG RED IN 2022
• Nebraska plays on TV 19 times this season, including 14 national TV broadcasts.
• The Huskers appear on the Big Ten Network 12 times during the regular season, and Nebraska plays at Creighton on FS1 on Sept. 7 and at Kentucky on ESPNU on Sept. 18.
• In addition to the 14 national TV broadcasts, Nebraska Public Media is televising five matches: Tulsa (Aug. 26), Loyola Marymount (Sept. 1), Ohio State (Sept. 24), Northwestern (Oct. 16) and Iowa (Nov. 11).
• The 10 matches that are not on TV can be streamed with a B1G+ subscription. Every match throughout the season airs on the Huskers Radio Network and can be heard on Huskers.com and the Huskers app.
THREE HUSKERS NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM
• Three members of the Nebraska volleyball team were named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Kaitlyn Hord, Madi Kubik and Lexi Rodriguez were all voted to the 15-player preseason team by the conference's head coaches. All three were All-Big Ten First Team selections last year. Kubik was the only player in the Big Ten unanimously chosen to the preseason all-conference team.
• Kubik was an AVCA third-team All-American in 2021, and she received first-team AVCA All-North Region and first-team All-Big Ten honors. She averaged a team-leading 3.49 kills per set to go with 2.11 digs while adding 21 aces and 55 blocks. Kubik ranked third in Big Ten play in kills per set with 4.11.
• Rodriguez was recognized as the AVCA National Freshman of the Year, a first-team All-American, North Region Freshman of the Year and first-team All-North Region in 2021. She was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection.
• Hord, a transfer from Penn State, was named to the AVCA All-America Second Team and was a first-team All-Big Ten choice for the third straight season last year. She averaged a career-best 2.92 kills per set while hitting .394. Hord recorded 1.40 blocks per set, which ranked third in the Big Ten and seventh nationally.
• The Huskers were picked second in the Big Ten preseason poll behind defending national champion Wisconsin. Minnesota was third, followed by Ohio State and Penn State.
MENDELSON, U.S. U19 TEAM WIN GOLD AT PAN AMERICAN CUP
• Nebraska freshman middle blocker Maggie Mendelson and the U.S. Girls' U19 National Team won the gold medal at the Pan American Cup in Tulsa, Okla., in late July. The U.S. team went 5-0 at the tournament without dropping a set.
• Mendelson, the team captain, had six kills, two blocks and two ace serves in the USA's 25-15, 25-14, 25-17 sweep of Brazil in the championship match.
ALLICK, RODRIGUEZ CLAIM GOLD AT PAN AMERICAN CUP
• The U.S. Women's U21 National Team - with Nebraska freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick and sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez - defeated Argentina 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-14) in June to win the Pan American Cup at La Paz Arena in Baja California Sur.
• It is the second time the U.S. has won the title. The last time was in 2017. Both the U.S. Women (5-0) and Argentina (4-2) qualified for the 2023 FIVB U21 World Championship.
• Allick added 14 points on 12 kills and two blocks. Rodriguez, the libero and team captain, was credited with 24 digs and 12 excellent receptions.