• The No. 5 Nebraska volleyball team heads into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to play for a Big Ten championship. The Huskers host No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, and they will finish the regular season on Saturday at 8 p.m. against No. 9 Minnesota at the Devaney Center.
• Both matches this weekend will be televised on BTN and can be streamed on FoxSports.com. Anne Marie Anderson and Emily Ehman will have the call for both matches.
• The Huskers Radio Network will broadcast all the action on their radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and 105.9 FM in Omaha on Friday, and AM 590 in Omaha on Saturday. 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.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS
• Nebraska clinches at least a share of the Big Ten championship with wins vs. Wisconsin and Minnesota.
• Nebraska clinches the outright Big Ten championship with wins vs. Wisconsin and Minnesota, combined with a Wisconsin loss at Ohio State on Saturday night (6 p.m. CT).
• Nebraska can share the Big Ten championship with a win vs. Wisconsin and a loss vs. Minnesota, but would need Ohio State to beat Wisconsin on Saturday night.
• Nebraska must beat Wisconsin on Friday night to have any chance at winning a Big Ten championship.
• The Big Ten recognizes teams tied atop the volleyball standings at the end of the regular season as co-champions. A tiebreaker is used to determine which team receives the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The tiebreaker procedure is: 1) Head-to-head conference match results; 2) Percentage of sets won or lost between or among tied teams; 3) Percentage of sets won in all conference matches; 4) Point differential of head-to-head competition between or among tied teams.
SENIOR NIGHT CELEBRATION ON SATURDAY
• Nebraska will recognize its senior class following the Minnesota match on Saturday night. Kaitlyn Hord, Kenzie Knuckles and Madi Kubik will be honored in the post-match ceremony. Nicklin Hames, who was honored on last year’s senior night, will also be recognized as Nebraska’s career assists record holder.
• Knuckles and Kubik came into the Husker program as freshmen in 2019. A third-team All-American last season, Kubik has played in all 113 matches over the last four seasons and in 393 of a possible 396 sets in that time. Knuckles has played in 112 matches and 391 sets.
• Hames returned for a fifth year of eligibility this season and became Nebraska’s career assists record holder midway through the season. She is the only setter in Husker history to reach 5,000 career assists – currently at 5,012 entering the weekend.
• Hord, a three-time All-American, played four seasons at Penn State before transferring to Nebraska to use her fifth year of eligibility this year.
NOTING THE HUSKERS
• Nebraska is hitting .250 as a team and is holding opponents to .120 hitting, which leads the nation. The Huskers rank eighth nationally at 2.74 blocks per set.
• In Big Ten matches only, Nebraska ranks first in opponent hitting percentage (.117), first in opponent kills allowed (10.80 per set) and first in opponent service aces allowed (0.67).
• Nebraska opened the season in a 5-1 system but has been in a 6-2 system since Sept. 1 against Loyola Marymount. The Huskers have used three setters throughout the course of the season: Nicklin Hames (5.75 assists per set), Kennedi Orr (5.26 assists per set) and Anni Evans (4.35 per set).
• Hames, who is in her fifth season at NU, has 5,012 career assists and broke Fiona Nepo’s (1995-98) career assists school record on Oct. 22 at Illinois. Hames ranks sixth among active NCAA Division I setters in career assists. An exceptional defensive setter, Hames ranks second on the team in digs at 3.05 per set this season.
• Outside hitter Madi Kubik is averaging a team-high 3.36 kills per set and adds 2.33 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. She was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 5.17 kills per set on .347 hitting to go along with 3.33 digs per set in sweeps over Iowa and Purdue.
• Sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez is averaging a team-best 4.28 digs per set. Rodriguez is the reigning AVCA National Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. She was named the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10 after averaging 6.00 digs per set in sweeps at Michigan State and Michigan, including a season-high 25 digs in the three-set win over the Wolverines.
• Outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein is averaging 2.92 kills per set and has a team-high 27 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 1.31 kills and a .280 hitting percentage to go with 1.61 blocks per set, which leads the nation. Hord ranks No. 2 among active NCAA Division I players in career blocks with 667.
• Sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Krause provides 2.05 kills per set.
• Freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick is putting up 1.95 kills per set on a team-high .337 hitting percentage with 1.01 blocks per set. Allick was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in back-to-back weeks on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.
• No. 5 Wisconsin (23-3, 17-1 Big Ten) ranks first in the Big Ten with a .270 hitting percentage and second with a .156 opponent hitting percentage. The Badgers are No. 2 in the nation in blocking (3.01 per set).
• Sarah Franklin leads the attack with 3.59 kills per set, while Julia Orzol adds 2.71 kills per set. They are hitting .233 and .225, respectively.
• Middle blocker Danielle Hart is second in the Big Ten and third in the nation with 1.57 blocks per set.
• No. 9 Minnesota (18-8, 13-5 Big Ten) plays at No. 8 Ohio State on Friday night before heading to Lincoln for the Big Ten finale.
• The Golden Gophers rank second among Big Ten teams with a .260 hitting percentage and fourth with a .180 opponent hitting percentage. Minnesota ranks fifth nationally in blocks per set (2.82).
• Outside hitter Taylor Landfair leads all Big Ten players with 4.33 kills per set and is hitting .251. Setter Melani Shaffmaster ranks third in the conference at 10.33 assists per set.
• Nebraska is 19-12-1 all-time against Wisconsin, but the Badgers have won the last nine meetings between the two teams. Wisconsin defeated the Huskers, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18, in Madison on Oct. 26. The last time Nebraska beat Wisconsin was Sept. 30, 2017, a 3-2 win in Lincoln.
• The teams met three times last year, including the NCAA Championship match on Dec. 18 in Columbus, Ohio. Wisconsin prevailed 3-2 after jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the decisive fifth set. NU came back to get within two at 14-12, but it wasn’t enough. All five sets were decided by two or three points.
• Nebraska is 36-11 all-time against Minnesota. The teams met once last year in Minneapolis, where Minnesota won 3-2 on Oct. 30.
• Since joining the Big Ten in 2011, Nebraska is 10-7 against Minnesota with a 6-3 record at the Devaney Center.
HUSKERS RANKED NO. 5 IN AVCA POLL
• Nebraska is ranked No. 5 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 also held the No. 1 ranking the week of Oct. 24.
• Nebraska has been ranked No. 1 in 102 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 529 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 585 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 815 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 .873 win percentage (654-95).
• 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 classes for 2021 and 2023, 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.
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).
HUSKERS REACH CONSECUTIVE SELLOUT MILESTONE
• Nebraska volleyball celebrated its 300th consecutive regular-season sellout on Nov. 11 against Iowa.
• The sellout streak dates back to 2001 at the approximately 4,000-capacity NU Coliseum. Despite moving into the 7,907-seat Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013, the sellout streak continued.
• 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 volleyball fans have continued to set the bar for attendance throughout the years:
• 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.
• 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, 2022 at the CHI Health Center, a then-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.
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.