Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook is in the midst of preseason training, including two workouts a day.
As such, getting new players up and running quickly is a priority for him—more than a national preseason #1 ranking.
Cook says he was a little surprised when the Huskers took first place in the AVCA poll on Monday.
“Everyone’s saying we’re bringing everyone back,” Cook said Tuesday during the Nebraska volleyball radio show. “Let’s see, we replace two middles, we replace setters, we lost (Keonilei Akana at defensive specialist). A third of our team is brand new.”
Texas is #2 in the poll and defending champion Wisconsin is #3.
Nebraska’s new players are Kaitlyn Hord and newcomers Bekka Allick, Maggie Mendelson, Hayden Kubik and Maisie Boesiger.
People also read…
While four-year-old starting setter Nicklin Hames returns, Kennedi Orr can take over as setter and Hames can switch to defensive specialist.
Cook said you could make the case for multiple teams at the top, including Wisconsin, Texas and Louisville.
“There are so many good teams out there and no one is going to roll this thing through,” he said.
Cook is focused on building a strong team.
“We’re just trying to get better every day and figure out what our best lineup is so we can try to win the Big Ten and peak in December,” he said.
Waverly connection: Cook said a friend joked with him and asked how Team Waverly was doing. The Huskers consist of up to three Waverly graduates with right-side hitter Whitney Lauenstein, backup setter Anni Evans and Allick.
“Waverly started it,” Cook said of the town of about 4,000 outside of Lincoln.
Lauenstein played some as a freshman right-side hitter and had a good offseason.
“All summer I was like, ‘Boy, that girl’s on a mission,'” Cook said. “She is very determined. She worked really hard. She has gained a lot of respect from our team.”
Lauenstein will likely always have plenty of competition to play as an outside hitter or right hitter, but Cook sees a lot of potential, especially with her shots.
“We just have to let it go,” he said. “I spoke about some others (players) like Christina Houghtelling. In her first year she was a midfielder and hardly played, and two years later she is the national player of the year. We could drive that out of her. (Lauenstein’s) job is to work hard and be trainable, and our job is to teach them and coach them.
Photos: Nebraska Volleyball opens the 2022-23 season with first practice