Sunday, August 19, 2007

Good news for Cook

The performance of the NU volleyball team in the annual Red-White scrimmage Saturday night had to bring a smile to coach John Cook's face. The Huskers played without returning player of the year Sarah Pavan who was battling a slight groin injury, but 2005 player of the year Christina Houghtelling showed she is back and ready to go after having shoulder surgery and missing all of last season.

Houghtelling had nine kills against a tough Red team defense, but more impressive was her match-high 16 digs. Cook said her floor defense is much better than when she last played in 2005. That will just make the Huskers that much better when they start the season Friday against Tennessee at the Qwest Center in Omaha.

As of Saturday night, Cook still hadn't decided whether the Huskers will go with a 5-1 or a 6-2 offense. The guess here, and it's only a guess, is he'll pick the 6-2. The Huskers are loaded with players who can contribute, and a 6-2 will give Cook the chance to mix and match and get the most out of those players. We may know by Monday.

Going to the 6-2 would allow both setters Rachel Holloway and Maggie Griffin to get on the floor. It would also give the Huskers three strong hitters in the front row at all times. Cook does love the 6-2 when he has the players to run it. The Huskers used it in 2005, and their offensive stats were much stronger that year than last year when they won the national championship.

We know this much: Houghtelling showed she is back and will be on the floor. Pavan will be there as soon as she is healthy, and so will Jordan Larson. Freshman Tara Mueller is a versatile player who gives Cook a lot of options. Freshman libero Kayla Banwarth has sparkled at times as well. One key will be 6-5 freshman Lindsey Licht. If Licht is ready to contribute right away, she can play opposite of Pavan at rightside hitter and the Huskers would have two 6-5 lefties on the floor much of the time. That would indeed be a unique situation.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Sunday, August 19, 2007 ||

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