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Drake’s Takes: A Look Back on Nebraska Sports in 2021

December 24, 2021

With the year wrapping up, this week’s Drake’s Takes applauds the volleyball team for closing strong and overviews the rest of Nebraska athletics. 

What a season for Nebraska volleyball

This may be partly recency bias, but Nebraska’s five-set loss to Wisconsin in Saturday’s national championship was probably one of the most exciting sporting events I’ve seen this year. 

I’m not going to put thought into a list of other contenders, but it probably wouldn’t be all that long. 

While the Huskers didn’t come out on top, they made an impressive run to get there and showed out on the big stage. Although I’ll note that volleyball is on a different level than most Nebraska sports, this match featured the emotional rollercoaster we’ve gotten from other Husker teams. 

Nebraska took the first set, and led for most of the second, even holding a 13-7 advantage at one point. This start was even better than the last regular season matchup between these two teams, where the Huskers won their first set against the Badgers since 2018. 

But Wisconsin came back to win that set and the next one, before Nebraska won in the fourth to force a fifth. When the Badgers started up 7-0, I prepared myself for an anticlimactic finish to a great match, but the Huskers still fought back hard enough to have me interested to the very end. 

I think I was still shaking a little bit an hour after this match due to the intensity of it. Both teams played really well, and Nebraska’s Kayla Caffey was especially impressive with 15 kills on a team-leading .267 hitting percentage. 

It was an incredible feat for No. 10 seed Nebraska to make it this far, and it’ll be fun to see if they can return to the championship round in 2022. 

2021 memories

To me, 2021 has felt like a direct sequel to 2020 in a lot of ways. 

It’s been a pleasant step down in some ways. We’re still in a pandemic, but at least we now have a vaccine. This year has only really felt like five years, while 2020 felt like a decade. 

To steal from Scott Frost (with some alterations), it also has felt like a similar story for Nebraska sports. Drama continued this year with the football program, and men’s basketball hasn’t made great strides.

Surprisingly, there’s quite a bit to celebrate in reflection on the sports year. The volleyball match might go down as the most memorable positive moment, but baseball’s run, a bowling championship and women’s basketball start to the current season deserve consideration. 

There’s also been some exciting hires, most notably athletic director Trev Alberts and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph. 

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to fully describe the insanity of this two-year stretch, but I can say it will be unforgettable. 

Into 2022!

For all the disappointment there’s been, there’s plenty of reasons to be hopeful about Nebraska sports heading into next year. 

As mentioned previously, women’s basketball is going strong. The Huskers are 12-0 and just played their last non-conference game. Things will get a lot tougher from here, but saying this team has been good to start out would be an understatement. 

This spring we’ll also see Nebraska baseball back in action. Head coach Will Bolt’s team lost to top-seeded Arkansas in the regional last season, and there’s good reason to be optimistic that the Huskers can succeed once again. 

There’s other storylines, such as whether men’s basketball can turn things around, but those two will be the most prominent in the next couple of months. 

Obviously many of the things we’re dealing with now won’t go away when the year changes, from more serious things (COVID-19 variants) to relatively less serious (football drama). But hopefully, there will be some steps forward in all of those areas. 

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