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Despite Early Offensive Struggles, Bekka Allick Makes an Impact On and Off the Court

September 06, 2023

Middle blocker Bekka Allick led No. 4 Nebraska in hitting percentage as a a freshman last season at .326, averaging 1.89 kills per set.

Four matches into her sophomore year (she did not play against SMU as Coach John Cook rotated middles during the first weekend), she’s averaging 1.36 kills per set on .185 hitting. New starting setter Bergen Reilly and Allick haven’t quite clicked just yet, but the 6-foot-4 sophomore from Lincoln isn’t worried.

“Our connection is still pretty new,” Allick said. “We did play a season forever ago back at USA, but it’s a new game. The great ones adjust as Coach always says, so just finding what works. Trying to kill a ball in this gym alone is hard, so I just have to figure out what works for me best in the upcoming matches.”

Allick had five kills on eight swings in the opener but has hit .200 or or below in her three matches since. She finished with three kills and three errors on 10 swings at Kansas State on Sunday.

“She hasn’t had that many sets,” Cook said. “So a couple of them are Bergen missed her, like hit her in the hip at K-State. So some of that stuff’s on Bergen and some is on Bekka understanding running better routes. So it’s still early for that.”

In addition to cleaning things up technically as Cook referred to and continuing to build chemistry with Reilly, Allick said the key for her is to avoid pressing and to let the game come to her while remaining confident in her abilities.

“I think the biggest thing is not getting so outside of myself, just knowing that I can still kill balls and not making it this far-out thing like, ‘Oh, I can’t do this anymore,’” Allick said. “Just staying calm and realizing it’s just a sport at the end of the day. Things change, and so I just have to figure out what works for me now, because obviously something worked for me last year. So I’ve just got to figure out what works for me now.”

In the meantime, Allick is contributing in other ways — like leading the nation in blocking at 1.91 per set. Though she hit .000 against the Wildcats, Allick was in on seven of the team’s season-high 12 blocks. Kaitlyn Hord led the country in blocking last season and Allick has stepped right into those shoes while freshman Andi Jackson has provided plenty of firepower from the middle blocker position for the Huskers.

“I think the great thing about being a volleyball player is there are multiple parts of the game, so when one thing’s not working, you’re able to focus on another and blocking has always been my bread and butter,” Allick said. “So if attacking is just not going well I know that I can still serve the team via defense.”

Another, less traditional way Allick can contribute to the team is out-of-system setting. Assistant coach Jaylen Reyes praised her setting ability during an interview with Hail Varsity back in the spring and she got an opportunity to show off that skill late in the first set against the Wildcats on Sunday with her first assist.

“I love it,” Allick said. “Oh my goodness, I love it all. So I got a few opportunities in today’s practice and it’s just my favorite thing. I love the sport. It brings me a lot of joy and when I get to set the ball, it’s a fun way for me to serve the team, especially as a middle. It’s stereotyped that we just can’t do anything other than hit and block, and so the fact that I get to do it and do it well, it’s really fun.” 

Allick said she was proud of the set to Lindsay Krause, though she was more critical of her second setting attempt later in the match that didn’t result in a kill.

“I think there were two, there was one with Merritt [Beason] and another one with Lindsay,” Allick said. “I’m really happy with the one with Lindsay but I knew I could get Merritt off the net more. I know I’m so much better than that.”

Allick’s twin sister Hannah is a sophomore setter at Division-II Missouri Southern State, and Bekka said she picked up a thing or two playing alongside Hannah growing up.

“We went back and forth,” Bekka said. “I would ask for pointers from her during games, and she’d give me feedback and so it was always fun.”

Her first assist of the season may have been the highlight of the match on Sunday for Allick, but the highlight of the season — and perhaps of her career — didn’t occur in a match. During last week’s Rally at the Coliseum evert in the lead-up to the Volleyball Day in Nebraska match at Memorial Stadium, two young girls were chosen to share messages with the Huskers. The first fought back tears as she grabbed the mic and began to speak, and Allick stepped forward to give her an encouraging hug.

“It just gave me a lot of gratitude,” Allick said. “And I always wondered, I’m like ‘Why me? What do you see that’s so special about me?’ And it was the cherry on top that she had the curly hair like me and I’m like, ‘Oh, this really is my mini-me right now.’ You saw she was in tears, and so my biggest thing was just to encourage her. Just her bravery is something I admire. 

“I remember giving my first speech. I was in preschool and it was about breast cancer and I was like, ‘it’s about awareness;’ it was like a two-word thing, and I remember I broke out into tears and then my teacher encouraged me, and so that’s what I started thinking about. I’m like ‘This was literally me forever ago,’ and so it was really cool that I got to have that moment with her.”

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