Husker Volleyball to Showcase Spring Progress in Kansas Exhibition

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Husker Volleyball Head Coach John Cook and passer Anni Evans met with the media ahead of Nebraska’s exhibition game against Kansas on April 23. It was the first time the media spoke with Cook this offseason as he had many updates.

The exhibition game will take place at the Heartland Event Center on Grand Island, beginning at 5 p.m. and will be televised on Nebraska Public Media. Tickets are sold out.

Husker Volleyball tries to play games in Nebraska to allow fans across the state to watch Nebraska volleyball. However, it has been a few years since they were able to do so due to the pandemic.

Cook, who received a birthday cake from Maisie Boesiger for his birthday on Tuesday, said selling 6,000 tickets in eight minutes indicated how much volleyball meant to the state.

The head coach said he doesn’t know if the central blocker Kayla Caffey will be available to play on Saturday due to his NCAA waiver submitted to return for his seventh year of college volleyball.

Cook said he had no news of his waiver and it was very complicated.

However, the average blocker Callie Schwarzenbach practiced with NU and will play in the exhibition match. Schwarzenbach will later transfer to Long Beach State, but since she was graduating and still on a volleyball scholarship, she has been training with Nebraska, Cook said.

First-year intermediate blocker Bekka Allick will have the opportunity to show off the progress it has made this spring.

“She’s a really good competitor,” Cook said. “For a freshman, she’s very vocal. She’s got a great presence. She competes really hard and she’s making tremendous progress.”

Cook said she was always doing freshman things like “taking someone out (while) blocking,” but he “likes the way she does.”

“She serves very well. She can play in defence,” he said. “She’s a very good volleyball player and she’s learning speed, blocking level and physique at that level. She’s made some big adjustments over the past few weeks.”

Another player to watch on Saturday is Nicklin Hameswho returns for her fifth season but not as Nebraska’s starting setter.

“She’s doing a fantastic job. I’ve never seen her happier,” Cook said after practice on Tuesday. “She’s playing really, really well. She’s a great leader and I think she’s excited about her fifth year. She spoke to me today about when she might start going to coaching meetings. Her master’s program has started.”

With Hames in a different role, the role of junior setter Anni Evans also changed.

“I grew up,” said the recent scholar. “I (started) using my voice more seriously and trying to take on a bit more of a leadership role as a member of the upper class. So that’s my focus this spring.”

First Year Setter in Red Shirt Kennedy Orr, who is expected to be the Huskers’ starter in the fall, missed the back half of beach volleyball due to injury. Cook said she was training but was a bit late.

Cook said he plans to have everyone play on Saturday, barring decision with Caffey, so Husker fans get a glimpse of Orr with the three freshmen.

As for Saturday’s show, Cook said his first priority is to share Husker volleyball with another part of the state.

“The fact that it’s sold out, we get to play in front of a big crowd, we’re playing against Kansas, which is great for us,” he said. “I think it’s just a good reward for late spring to be able to go and play a game.”

Cook said he and the players plan to sign lots of autographs after the game.

“It’s more of a celebration for volleyball in the state and for the Kansas players and our players to be able to play in front of a big crowd.”

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