The Nebraska volleyball program announced Tuesday that seniors Madi Kubik and Kenzie Knuckles and sophomore Lexi Rodriguez will serve as team captains this season.
Knuckles was also captain last season, while Kubik and Rodriguez will each play in the role for the first time.
Each of the players was key to the Huskers having one of the best defenses in the nation last season.
Kubik and Knuckles began taking on leadership roles shortly after the end of last season, while Rodriguez has more recently emerged as a leader after being selected captain of the United States junior national team at a tournament this summer.
“(Rodriguez) was made captain of the US team that won the Pan American Cup and he just built that confidence when he was made captain, which is a pretty big deal to be captain of a US team, participating in an international tournament. ‘ said Nebraska coach John Cook Tuesday during the Nebraska volleyball radio show.
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Having Rodriguez, last season’s national freshman of the year, as captain will also help her gain experience as one of the leaders of the future should Kubik and Knuckles decide not to return for a super senior season next season .
Nicklin Hames has captained each of the last three seasons but will not be this year. That’s because she might not be on the court as often this season if she’s playing in the back row as a defensive sub.
“Nicklin passed the torch,” Cook said. “I think she’s having fun, she’s relaxed. She knows that in her current role, the other guys have to take the lead.”
Orr’s debut: Second setter Kennedi Orr likely reassured the coaches and some fans with a strong performance during last weekend’s red-white scrimmage. Orr will likely be the starting man when the Huskers open the season on Friday.
Orr did not play as a high school senior because of a knee injury. And she only appeared in two games last season when Hames was injured in the first week of the season.
“You have to look at (Orr) as a newbie. She hasn’t played in two years,” Cook said. “She was really nervous so I didn’t know what to expect. She still has a lot to improve with her consistency and her technique. But you can tell that she is a very talented player.”
Orr has the potential to make plays that other setters can’t, Cook said, in part because she has bigger hands than some setters.
“She can just take the ball from any position and make a set and make a play,” he said. “She’s physical. She’s a great blocker. She can hit. She calls for the ball (to hit out of system sets). The last player we had was Kelly Hunter.”
Orr is also a few inches taller than Hames, which could help Nebraska’s blockade.
“Kennedi is almost 6 feet tall, she has long arms, big hands, she takes up a lot of space,” Cook said. “And she looks really good.”
Batenhorst returns: Sophomore outside hitter Ally Batenhorst has returned to training with an injury after a few days of training and the red-white scrimmage.
Photos: Nebraska Volleyball kicks off the season with the annual Red-White Scrimmage