Inside NU Volleyball’s Recruitment Strategy: Identify ‘a very small group’ and work from there | Volleyball


Caroline Jurevicius throws a shot during Nebraska’s Dream Team Volleyball Camp at Devaney Sports Center in 2021. She is part of Nebraska’s 2023 recruiting class.

Star Journal File Photo

Another summer produced another hot streak in recruiting for Nebraska’s volleyball program.

What this means for success on the pitch will not be known for several years. The three players from the class of 2024 can’t even make it official by signing with the Huskers for 16 months. It could be four seasons before they start.

But Nebraska’s recruiting success rate right now is the envy of nearly every coach in every college sport, and eyes widen at the percentage of Huskers targets accepting offers.

NU's John Cook says adding UCLA, USC to Big Ten is

June 15 marked the first day that college coaches were allowed to make recruiting calls to 2,024 players, and in those first days Nebraska had four Zoom calls with recruits and their families. In the space of about a week, the Huskers had three engagements.

“I spoke to another coach I know and they made 40 Zoom calls. We made four,” said NU coach John Cook.

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The Huskers will have the recruiting class ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation four times in five years.

The recruiting class of 2022 (this season’s freshmen) — Maggie Mendelson, Bekka Allick, Hayden Kubik and Maisie Boesiger — is ranked No. 2 according to The 2023 class, which has the No. 1 overall rookie in outside hitter Harper Murray and two others in the top 5, is ranked No. 1.

Clearly, Cook is happy with what the program is currently doing when it comes to recruiting.

“We’ve worked very hard to identify the right candidates here,” said Cook, who credits assistant coach Jaylen Reyes a lot for Nebraska’s recruiting work.

“And it’s exciting to see, and it feels really good to know that a lot of the top recruits want to come to Nebraska. So it reaffirms that what we’re doing here works when people want to be part of this program.

Nebraska’s recruiting success was on display earlier this month when seven of the 20 players invited to try out for the United States Junior National Volleyball Team were Nebraska players or draftees. Being a Husker rookie raises your profile, but these teams are built to win tournaments — not to make recruiting class rosters.

When Team USA was chosen, it was mostly older players, including Mendelson and Husker hires Andi Jackson, Bergen Reilly and Murray. And the future Huskers played well, with Jackson and Murray leading the Americans in scoring.

Cook feels like Nebraska has the potential to attract a top athlete right now.

“We get recruits from all over, which is good,” he said. “And these players have big goals. All these guys want to play pro and try to make the national team. Of course, we have an excellent track record in this area. »

It’s also an indication of the type of person Nebraska has recruited that several current Huskers and rookies have been chosen to be captains of a Team USA age group team, including Lexi Rodriguez, Kennedi Orr, Allick and Mendelson.

Creighton vs. Nebraska, 11:17 a.m.

Nebraska volleyball coaches John Cook (top left) and Jaylen Reyes (top center) watch the Huskers women’s basketball game against Creighton with Husker AD Trev Alberts on November 17, 2021 at Pinnacle Bank arena.

Star Journal File Photo

When it’s time to really start recruiting for the next cycle, how does Nebraska go about making its bids? He could offer several offers and opt for a first-come, first-served approach. Or they could only make a few offers and then move down their list after a top target has committed elsewhere.

“We have a very small group that we are zooming in with, and laying out the bid plans, or how it will work,” he said. “So we’re targeting who we think would be a great fit here and would fit into our recruiting program and how they would fit into our program and when they could enter the field.”

Coaches don’t know for sure how they’ll feel about a rookie — and how the rookie will feel about you — until you can start having long conversations.

But for some of the potential targets, Nebraska knows it could at least be a contender because high school players can email college coaches ahead of their freshman year, even if the coaches aren’t able to respond. due to NCAA rules.

“They can email us, so we get a pretty good indication of who has an interest by what they’re saying and how they’re communicating, although we can’t communicate back,” Cook said. “They let us know, ‘Hey, we’re going to be at this (club) tournament.’ Or, ‘Thanks for coming to watch.’

In this recruiting cycle, Nebraska got three commits in about 10 days — from Lenexa, Kansas, outside hitter Sylyer Pierce; Bennington defensive specialist Olivia Mauch and Prosper, Texas, middle tackle Ayden Ames.

Much of Nebraska’s recruiting momentum over the past five years has come from its Dream Team camp. That’s when many of the top players from Nebraska and around the country (and even an occasional international player) come to Lincoln for a few days in July.

For high school players, this is the best way to get a feel for what it would be like to play volleyball in Nebraska, as you play on the main court at the Devaney Sports Center and are coached by the coaches and players of the Nebraska.

“It’s kind of a first date, where you see if it’s right for you or not,” Cook said.

This summer, camp was different as most of Nebraska’s commitments and goals conflicted that week with a Team USA tryout. It allowed some young players to step onto the upper court and show what they could do.

“We had a younger Dream Team camp, but, man, was he talented,” Cook said. “The level of play just keeps going up – the athleticism, the skill level, how hard they hit the ball. I saw two of the best passers I’ve ever seen for ninth graders come in in grade 10. These guys were exceptional passers. These athletes are getting bigger and more physical. The level of the game is going up in this country.

Contact the writer at 402-473-7435 or [email protected] On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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