The Nebraska volleyball team was selected as the No. 5 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament and will host the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds at the Bob Devaney Sports Center this weekend. The sixth-ranked Huskers, making their 38th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, will open the tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. against the Ball State Cardinals, champions of the Mid-American Conference. The 4:30 p.m. match will feature the Missouri Tigers of the SEC and the Northern Iowa Panthers of the Missouri Valley Conference. Friday’s winners will meet on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the NCAA second round.
• Nebraska is in No. 4 Wisconsin’s region along with No. 12 national seed Hawaii and No. 13 Texas A&M. The Huskers would only have an opportunity to host an NCAA regional if they advance past the opening two rounds and Wisconsin gets upset in the first or second round.
• Nebraska is 2-0 all-time against Ball State with the last meeting on Sept. 11, 2004 in Lincoln. Both matches were Husker sweeps.
• Nebraska is 72-3-1 all-time against Missouri. The Huskers and Tigers met in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament in Lincoln, a 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 Husker win. NU has won 16 straight meetings dating back to 2003.
• Nebraska is 6-1-1 all-time against Northern Iowa. The Panthers upset the Huskers, 3-1, at the Omaha Challenge on Sept. 16, 2017.
• John Cook: 20th year at Nebraska (585-80); 27th year overall (746-153)
• Kelli Miller Phillips: 4th year at Ball State (74-50)
• Joshua Taylor: 1st year at Missouri (21-7)
• Bobbi Peterson: 20th year at Northern Iowa (509-161)
About the Huskers
• Nebraska went 25-4 in the regular season and 17-3 in the Big Ten Conference, good for a three-way tie for second place with Penn State and Minnesota and one game behind league champion Wisconsin.
• The 2019 season marks the 35th time that Lincoln has hosted NCAA first and second round competition. Nebraska is 113-32 (.779) in 37 previous NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2019 Husker squad is looking to become the first Nebraska volleyball team to reach five straight final fours, though the Huskers have a young team with no seniors on their roster for the first time in school history.
• Nebraska has won 52 straight matches against unranked opponents since 2017.
• Over the last six seasons, Nebraska has a 61-4 record in the months of November and December.
• The Huskers rank eighth in the nation and first in the Big Ten with an opponent hitting percentage of .149 this season.
• Lexi Sun leads NU with 3.57 kills per set and is hitting .275 on the season. Sun was named to the All-Big Ten First Team.
• All-America middle blocker Lauren Stivrins averages 2.57 kills and 1.06 blocks per set while hitting a team-best .383 this season. Stivrins is a two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection.
• Freshman Madi Kubik adds 2.73 kills and 2.52 digs per set. She was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an All-Big Ten Second Team member.
• Nicklin Hames provides 10.91 assists per set and 2.90 digs per set. She has 15 double-doubles on the season and was named to the All-Big Ten First Team.
• Jazz Sweet is putting down 2.68 kills per set on the season while hitting .274.
• Callie Schwarzenbach leads the team in blocks at 1.09 per set.
• Freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles is leading the Huskers in digs with 3.71 per set this season. She was an All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection along with Kubik.
Scouting Ball State
• Ball State is making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2011. The Cardinals won the Mid-American Conference Tournament, beating Bowling Green, 3-2.
• Ball State ranks 19th nationally in digs per set (17.54), and libero Kate Avila averages 4.71 per set.
• Natalie Risi, the MAC Freshman of the Year, leads the team with 2.93 kills per set. Kia Holder adds 2.63 kills per set and was named the most valuable player at the MAC Championship.
• Missouri is making its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and for the second straight year the Tigers have been sent to Lincoln for the first and second rounds. Missouri has won seven of its last eight matches.
• The Tigers are hitting .303 on the season, which ranks third in the nation. Their 14.70 kills per set are sixth-most in the country.
• Junior outside hitter Kylie Deberg leads the team with 4.82 kills per set and 0.46 aces per set. She ranks 10th in the nation in kills.
• Setter Andrea Fuentes ranks fifth in the nation with 11.84 assists per set.
Scouting Northern Iowa
• Northern Iowa earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament after a 24-10 season that included a 17-1 Missouri Valley Conference record and a regular-season title.
• The Panthers rank seventh in the nation in kills per set (14.58) and are ninth in digs per set (17.91).
• Senior outside hitter Karlie Taylor leads the Panthers with 4.60 kills per set, the 18th-best mark in the nation. Taylor was the MVC Player of the Year. Setter Rachel Koop puts up 11.44 assists per set and was the MVC Setter of the Year.
Huskers Ranked No. 6 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 100 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history. The Huskers held the No. 1 ranking this season the week of Sept. 16.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 501 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 557 AVCA Coaches Polls since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every poll all-time.
Five Huskers Earn All-Big Ten Awards
• Nicklin Hames, Lauren Stivrins and Lexi Sun were named to the All-Big Ten First Team, while Madi Kubik was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an All-Big Ten Second Team and All-Big Ten Freshman Team member. Libero Kenzie Knuckles was also selected to the All-Freshman Team by the league’s head coaches.
• Stivrins was a unanimous choice for the All-Big Ten First Team. The 2018 AVCA First-Team All-American collected her second career all-conference honor after 2.57 kills per set, 1.06 blocks per set and a team-best .383 hitting percentage during the regular season. Stivrins’ .415 hitting percentage in conference play was third-best in the Big Ten, and the junior middle blocker guided a Husker defense that had a league-best .157 opponent hitting percentage in Big Ten play.
• Sun earned her first career All-Big Ten honor, but her second career all-conference honor as she was an All-Big 12 first teamer at Texas in 2017. The junior outside hitter led the Huskers with 3.57 kills per set with 2.42 digs per set and a team-high 24 aces during the regular season. Sun posted double-digit kills in 18 of 20 Big Ten matches, and her 3.53 kills per set in Big Ten play ranked eighth.
• Hames collected her first All-Big Ten award after averaging 10.92 assists and 2.90 digs per set during the regular season. One of the best defensive setters in the nation, Hames recorded a team-high 15 double-doubles and also served 21 aces. Her 11.36 assists per set in Big Ten play ranked third in the conference.
• Kubik earned Nebraska’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor and first conference freshman of the year since Hannah Werth won the award in 2009 in the Big 12. Kubik averaged 2.73 kills and 2.52 digs per set in her first year as a Husker. She ranked fourth among Big Ten freshmen in kills (2.96 per set) and digs (2.51 per set) in conference play. The outside hitter was also named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the All-Freshman Team. Kubik is the first Husker freshman to be named to an All-Big Ten team since Kadie Rolfzen in 2013.
• Knuckles earned All-Freshman Team accolades after leading the Huskers with 3.71 digs per set in her first year as the Huskers’ libero. Knuckles served 20 aces and was a Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week during the season, helping the Huskers lead all Big Ten teams with a .156 opponent hitting percentage in conference play.
“29,029” and “To Be Continued…”
• The 2019 Nebraska volleyball team has two slogans for the season: 29,029 and To Be Continued…
• 29,029 is the elevation in feet of Mount Everest. The Huskers, who nearly reached the peak of college volleyball in 2018 before coming up three points short against Stanford, are using the memory of that defeat to motivate them in 2019. The Huskers will play 29 regular-season matches, and head coach John Cook said the hardest part of climbing Mount Everest is the final 29 feet. “Many people say the elevation is 29,000 feet, forgetting the final 29 feet. We got to that 29,000 (in 2018). We didn’t get that last 29 feet. All the bad things happen in the last 29 feet. People mentally let go, they’re exhausted, they get stuck. Our whole theme is we’ve got to figure out how to get the last 29 feet.”
• The Huskers also have a team slogan of “To Be Continued…” in 2019. The slogan references the Huskers continuing what they couldn’t quite finish in 2018 – winning an NCAA Championship. It also means carrying on the recent success of the program (four straight NCAA Semifinals appearances) and preparing to bring back the entire team for the 2020 season, as the Huskers have no seniors on their roster for the first time in program history. The ellipsis signifies the three points that separated the Huskers from a national championship in 2018.
Huskers Visit Asia in Summer of 2019
• The Nebraska volleyball team took a 17-day trip to Japan and China over the summer. The Huskers took on top professional teams from the two countries during the trip, winning about half of the sets they played. Head Coach John Cook called it “by far the best” of the five trips his teams have taken to Asia in his 20 years at Nebraska.
• In addition to the highly competitive matches, the Huskers also toured numerous sites in Asia, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China. With six newcomers and no seniors on the roster for the 2019 season, the trip was a great opportunity for the team to bond on and off the court, a team that will spend the next two years playing together.
• The NCAA allows a team to take a foreign trip every four years, and Cook has made it a habit to take his team to Asia. Previous trips have usually paid off with successful seasons. In the last four seasons following a Cook-led foreign trip, Nebraska has responded by winning three conference titles and two national championships.
• Cook took his first team to Asia prior to the 2000 season, his first as Nebraska’s head coach. The Huskers responded with a 34-0 season and the program’s second national championship.
• In 2006, Cook took his team back to Asia and the results were the same: another national championship. The Huskers went 33-1 following their international trip and capped the national title with a 3-1 victory over Stanford in front of 17,209 fans at the Qwest Center in Omaha.
• Nebraska went back to Asia in 2010. Although NU did not win the national title that year, it did put together a 29-3 season that included a Big Ten title. Nebraska took a No. 3 ranking into the NCAA Tournament but was upset in a four-set loss at No. 11 Washington in the NCAA Regional Semifinal.
• The Huskers’ last Asia trip in 2014 with only one senior was followed by a 23-10 season. But the following year saw that young group go on to win the program’s fourth national title.
Nebraska Fans Continue Record-Setting Consecutive Sellout Streak
• Nebraska volleyball holds an NCAA women’s record 270 consecutive regular-season sellouts.
• Nebraska led the nation in attendance in 2018 for the sixth straight year since moving into the Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013, averaging 8,205 fans per match.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top three nationally in attendance every season since 1990 (28 straight seasons).
• Nebraska set a new school record for attendance – 8,632 – against No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 18.
AVCA Hall of Fame Head Coach John Cook in 20th Season at Nebraska
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 20th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2019. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, nine final fours, 12 conference championships and 17 top-10 final rankings since 2000.
• Cook has 746 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 .880 win percentage in that time (585-80).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 55 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 four 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.
• Cook became the ninth active Division I head coach to reach 700 career wins in 2018.