Friday, April 10, 2009

It's been a good spring for the Nebraska volleyball team. The Huskers wind up their spring exhibition schedule by playing Wichita State Saturday in Scottbluff. Earlier this spring, Nebraska won at Hawaii and defeated Missouri State in Lincoln last weekend.

John Cook is putitng a young team on the court this spring. Senior Kori Cooper will be the only senior next year, and Cooper is out this spring as she recovers from a knee injury suffered late in the regular season last fall. That means juniors like Sydney Anderson, Kayla Banwarth and Tara Mueller have to step things up.

Freshmen Hannah Werth and Megan Pendergast have already enrolled and are practicing with the Huskers this spring. Werth will be one of the candidates to replace the graduated Jordan Larson when the Huskers start playing for real next fall.

Sophomore Brooke Delano played all three front row positions last year. Now she's practicing solely at rightside and Cook has liked what he's seen from her there. Jordan Wilberger, who filled in for Cooper when she was injured last year, has been playing well in the middle along with redshirt freshman Allison McNeal.

It will certainly be interesting to see what Cook comes up with for a lineup when fall rolls around.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Friday, April 10, 2009 || 2 comments

Friday, March 20, 2009

Impressive Husker win

It's always tough to win in Hawaii. Even in the spring. The Husker volleyball team began its spring slate with a 25-23, 25-23, 16-25, 25-23 win over the Rainbow Rahine early Friday morning (Nebraska time). Freshman Hannah Werth, who has joined the program early, got off to a good start with 15 kills. She'll need to pull that .182 hitting percentage up, but that will come. Coach John Cook might not have been to crazy about Hawaii's .282 hitting percentage, but it's still a win for the Huskers.

Freshman libero/defensive specialist Megan Pendergast, who like Werth entered the program early, saw her first action as did former Penn State setter Jessica Yanz. Returning All-American Sydney Anderson saw most of the action at setter. That will be interesting to watch. Anderson is so athletic and had a great year in 2008, but Yanz is very good too.

Redshirt freshman Allison McNeal also so her first action as a Husker. McNeal, who could be a star in the making, had 9 kills in just swings. It was good to see Brooke Delano, who missed the last part of the season after surgery, back in action.

All in all, a good showing for the Huskers.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Friday, March 20, 2009 || 0 comments

Sunday, February 08, 2009

NCAA disses Omaha

Interesting that the NCAA decided not to give Omaha the volleyball final four for either 2010 or 2012. Apparently a guarantee of record crowds wasn't enough. I really thought Omaha would win the bid for one of those years, but I think many believe the Huskers have an unfair advantage when they play a final four at home.

And they do. It's a huge advantage for the Huskers whenever they play in the state of Nebraska whether its at the NU Coliseum, the Devaney Center or the Qwest Center. Plus with the outstanding recruiting class the Huskers signed for next year - including outside hitters Hannah Werth and Gina Mancuso - plus 6-5 setter/rightside hitter Morgan Broekhuis committed for next year's class, coach John Cook has pretty much guaranteed his Huskers will be national championship contenders from 2010 to 2012.

When you look at it like that, it's not too surprising that the NCAA went another direction. Cook didn't seem that disappointed. He said he'd rather play a regional in Omaha and go on the road for the final four. After all, if the Huskers make the final four in 2010 all they have to do is cruise down I-29 to Kansas City. The Sprint Center there could turn into Qwest Center South if the Huskers make it.

Then the 2012 final four will be in Louisville. The 2009 final four will be in Tampa with the 2011 going to San Antonio. It's quite possible that there won't be a home team in any of those, although Florida could certainly cause some problems for opponents if they make it to Tampa.

The Huskers are already set to host a regional at the Qwest Center at the end of this season. You have to think they will have a decent chance of making it to Tampa. And as good as they will be, they will likely host a couple more in the near future.

It was an ecomonic loss for the city of Omaha. Kansas City estimates the final four in 2010 will bring $5 million into its economy. It is a loss for Omaha, but it really looks like a good thing for Cook and his team.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Sunday, February 08, 2009 || 0 comments

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big commitment for John Cook

Setter/hitter Morgan Broekhuis is a huge commitment for the Husker volleyball program. Broekhuis is the best player in Colorado and could well be the No. 1 senior in the nation next year. Her setting ability will allow coach John Cook to use a 6-2 offense with her hitting in the front row if he should so choose.

In any event, it's bad news for the rest of the Big 12 and other college programs. The Huskers were one of the top teams in the nation this past year, and that won't change now for the next few years. Cook has a great recruiting class coming this fall and now has a great start on the 2010 class.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Thursday, January 22, 2009 || 1 comments

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Huskers will give their all

Jordan Larson couldn't really explain her feeling after her ace served in the fifth set gave the Huskers a victory over Washington Saturday night in Seattle.

“There’s no words to describe how that felt,” Larson said Wednesday as the Huskers were preparing to play Penn State in an NCAA semifinal Thursday at the Qwest Center in Omaha. “After that last point - - physically, mentally, emotionally - - I had nothing left. People need to understand when you leave a match that’s how you should feel.”

If the Huskers beat the seemingly unbeatable Nittany Lions tonight, it will take every bit of effort and heart they have. But of course they do have one advantage they didn't have in Seattle. Tonight there well be some 18,000 fans rooting them on.

“Fans are the seventh player on the court,” senior Rachel Scwhartz said. “You still have to go in and play your butt off and play as hard as you can. But having 18,000 people behind you is never going to hurt.”

It's impossible to predict a Husker victory tonight, but one thing is for sure. They will definitely give it every ounce of effort they have. Penn State looks too good, but as volleyball legend Karch Kiraly said, if the Huskers somehow manage to win that first set, all bets are off.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Thursday, December 18, 2008 || 3 comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interesting final four

It should be an interesting night for sure Thursday when the final four kicks off at the Qwest Center in Omaha. Of course Penn State against Nebraska is the feature attraction, but the first match of the night will be interesting as well.

Texas and Stanford will meet in a rematch of an early-season match at the Qwest Center. The Cardinal took a 25-17, 25-19, 25-27, 20-25, 15-10 victory over the Longhorns in a match that lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes. Thursday's match starts at 6 p.m. with NU vs. Penn State scheduled for 8 p.m. Don't be surprised if the Huskers and Nittany Lions are a bit late getting started. Texas-Stanford could certainly play another five-setter.

It will also be interesting to see if the pro-Nebraska crowd gets behind Texas or Stanford in that match. My guess is Stanford. A lot of Nebraska fans just don't like the Longhorns in any sport.

Of course the Huskers will have the home-court type advantage against Penn State, and they'll need every bit of it. The Nittany Lions have been more dominating than any team in NCAA history. The 108-0 record in sets proves that. But we're in the final four now. That pressure to win may cause Penn State some jitters.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Tuesday, December 16, 2008 || 0 comments

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NCAA Tournament heating up

Now we get to the real deal. The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament were pretty much a formality. There was no way the Huskers weren't going to advance to regional play in Seattle. But now it gets interesting.

Michigan is no push over. The Wolverines play in a tough conference. The Big Ten has four teams still remaining in the final 16. No doubt the Wolverines won't be intimidated by the Huskers after playing No. 1 Penn State twice this season.

If NU gets past that match, the Huskers will face either Washington or Utah. Washington is obviously the favorite there, but Husker coach John Cook said that's a very interesting match up. You know Cook and the Huskers would rather face Utah in Seattle than the Huskies on their home court. That wouldn't guarantee anything, but it would certainly make the task less daunting for the Huskers.

Two years ago when the Huskers played in Gainsville, Fla., it was Minnesota that beat the host team in the regional semifinal. The Huskers survived that regional to win the school's third national title, but they fell behind the Gophers 2-0 before rallying to win in the regional final.

Last year, Nebraska had to travel to Madison, Wis. The Badgers would have been the host team playing on their home court, but Iowa State beat them in the second round. Of course that didn't help the Huskers in the end because they were knocked out by Cal in the regional final.

If the Huskers make the regional final, fans will have to stay up late Saturday night to watch on ESPNU. First serve for the regional final is set for 10:30 p.m. CDT.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Thursday, December 11, 2008 || 0 comments

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