Five Huskers earned postseason conference honors after a second-place Big Ten finish for Nebraska this season.
Freshman Lexi Rodriguez earned Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-Big Ten First team. Senior Lauren Stivrins and junior Madi Kubik joined her on the first team while Nicklin Hames earned a second-team spot. Rodriguez was a unanimous selection for the All-Freshman Team and Lindsay Krause joined her on the team.
The league’s coaches voted for the honors. Nebraska and Purdue were the only teams with three first-team selections, the sixth straight year the Huskers have cleared that mark.
Rodriguez won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week twice and Freshman of the Week four times during a spectacular freshman season. She averaged 4.46 digs per set as Nebraska’s libero and upped that to 4.71 in conference play. She added 14 aces and 111 assists (1.12 per set). She topped 15 digs in 16 of her 28 matches and notched 20-plus seven times with a high of 28, set twice. With Rodriguez leading the way, Nebraska allowed a conference-low .147 opponent hitting percentage.
Rodriguez is the second Husker to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as Justine Wong-Orantes did it twice, and she’s just the second freshman to win the award, following Minnesota’s Paula Gentil in 2002.
After undergoing offseason back surgery, Stivrins opted for a sixth year at Nebraska and returned to action during the second week of Big Ten play. In 17 matches, she averaged 2.41 kills per set on .346 hitting and added 1.09 blocks per set defensively. She had six matches with double-digit kills and topped out with seven blocks three times.
The first-team selection was Stivrins’ fourth straight from the Big Ten.
Kubik got off to a hot start in Big Ten play and finished as one of five players to average better than 4.0 kills per set in conference. She averaged 3.49 kills per set on .215 hitting overall but upped that to 4.11 kills per set on .219 hitting in the Big Ten. The junior pin-hitter added 2.01 digs per set and 17 aces. She had five double-doubles and 20 matches with 10-plus kills including 17 in Big Ten play. She hit her season-high of 19 kills three different times and led Nebraska in kills in all but one Big ten match. Kubik earned Big Ten Player of the Week twice.
Kubik was a second-team All-Big Ten selection as a freshman in 2019.
Hames averaged 10.58 assists and 3.37 digs per set while leading the Huskers with 26 aces. She recorded 19 double-doubles with season-highs of 3 assist and 24 digs, both in the same match.
Hames earned first-team honors in each of the previous two seasons and was Big Ten Setter of the Week twice this season.
Krause, the freshman from Papillion, spent most of the season as Nebraska’s starting opposite hitter. She averaged 2.36 kills per set on .213 hitting overall but upped that to 2.58 kills per set on .238 hitting, good for second on the team. She led Nebraska’s pins with 0.76 blocks per set as well. She had 11 matches with double-digits kills including a high of 15, set twice. She also had a 12-kill, 10-block double-double in her third collegiate match.
Krause earned one Big Ten Freshman of the Week award this year.
Kayla Caffey is Nebraska’s Big Ten Sportsmanship ward honoree. The senior middle blocker averaged 2.33 kills per set on a team-best .387 hitting and 1.11 blocks per set.
Nebraska will open NCAA Tournament play on Friday at the Devaney Center against Campbell.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.