The Creighton volleyball team announced its full 2018 schedule this week, which includes a Sept. 6 date with Nebraska.
Nebraska head coach John Cook told KLIN’s Jack Mitchell on “LNK Today” Wednesday that Nebraska’s schedule should be released soon, once the Big Ten Conference finalizes TV contracts and other details.
“They’re (the Big Ten) is holding it back,” Cook said. “They’re making their TV selections or whatever. I don’t know, but they’re holding it up. But, our non-conference (schedule), we know. Ironically, our whole non-conference this year, we’re going to play every match in (Bob Devaney Sports Center), except for one which will be up in Omaha at the CenturyLink.”
Cook confirmed that Nebraska will host the VERT Challenge tournament this season, welcoming powerhouses Texas, Florida and Oregon to Lincoln. Florida is slated to be the season-opener.
The Huskers will also host Iowa State along with defending MVC regular season and tournament champion Missouri State.
Other than the usual scheduling rotations and shuffling, another significant change this offseason for college volleyball has to do with recruiting.
The NCAA announced in April that prospects in sports other than football and basketball can now make official visits starting September 1st of their junior years, but can’t have any talks with coaches before that.
“So, we can’t have a recruiting conversation, they can’t do an unofficial visit or even visit campus and talk to the athletic department,” Cook said. “They can go on a normal student tour just like anybody can, but there can be no athletic conversation. In addition to that, when they’re a junior now, they can make official visits. But, we never did official visits, because they all commit ninth through tenth grade.”
The Huskers will have seven new players on their 2018 roster, including sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun, who transferred in from Texas last month and will be immediately eligible in 2018.
Cook admitted that transfers can sometimes throw off a team’s chemistry, but in this case, Sun is expected to play a key role right away.
“For us, this year, it’s a really good transition year to have a transfer,” Cook said. “If you have a returning team that has everybody back, that’s when it can probably get sticky or create problems, because people have been playing or have their playing time.”
Nebraska returns several pieces from last year’s championship team, including senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke, senior defensive specialist and libero Kenzie Maloney, sophomore outside hitter Jazz Sweet and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins.
The biggest position of question right now for the Huskers is setter. Nebraska must replace three-time All American and 2017 Big Ten Setter of the Year Kelly Hunter. Freshman Nicklin Hames is the only setter on roster right now, but Cook says that’s not the only position up for grabs.
“The setter position is wide open, we have an outside hitter wide open, a middle blocker position wide open,” Cook said. “A (defensive specialist) sub-type player position wide open, so half of our starting group is going to be new people.”
It’ll be a busy summer for Cook and his team. USA Volleyball and the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball team will host the opening week of the inagural FIVB Volleyball Nations League on May 15-17 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln.
Some of Nebraska’s players will be starting summer school around the same time.
“We’ll meet with our performance team and start making a plan for the summer,” Cook said. “We have USA (Volleyball) coming in two weeks. So, some of our players will come back from that. One of our freshmen will start May 14 in the pre-session of summer school, and we’ll have some returning players that’ll be in that, so they’ll start their workouts.”
Nebraska will start summer camps on June 1 and summer school on June 3. Fall camp will start in the beginning of August.
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.