Despite opening the season at No. 2 in the AVCA Coaches Poll behind reigning champion Stanford, Nebraska volleyball was picked to finish second in the Big Ten in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.
Coach John Cook said he didn’t really have any thoughts on the poll’s results.
“I just know there are a lot of really good teams in the Big Ten and I could probably name off five teams that could be No. 2 no problem,” Cook said. “We know how tough it is and I know what our schedule is. We’ve got a really tough opening part to the Big Ten—we’ve got Wisconsin and Minnesota back-to-back along with everybody else. The Big Ten is really, really tough and I think if you just go with the mindset of taking it one point at a time, one match at a time and see where you are at the end.”
Three Huskers were named to the 14-player preseason All-Big Ten team: junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins, junior outside hitter Lexi Sun and sophomore setter Nicklin Hames.
Stivrins was a first-team AVCA All-American as well as a first-team All-Big Ten performer after averaging 2.36 kills and 1.17 blocks per set while hitting .421, second-highest in the Big Ten.
Sun, who transferred to Nebraska after spending her freshman season at Texas, missed most of the preseason while recovering from an offseason injury but returned to play in 28 matches, averaging 3.11 kills and 2.69 digs per set while hitting .195.
Hames won the starting setter job as a true freshman and led the Huskers to within three points of winning a national championship. She averaged 10.49 assists and 3.32 digs per set and was second on the team with 40 assists.
The Huskers went 29-7 overall and 15-5 in conference play, finishing tied for third with Wisconsin. The Badgers lost All-Big Ten middle blocker Tionna Williams but return the rest of their rotation including 6-foot-8 junior middle blocker Dana Rettke and junior setter Sydney Hilley, who were both named to the preseason All-Big Ten team.
Minnesota won the Big Ten title at 19-1 last season, finishing 27-4 overall. The Gophers lost one of the best setters in the conference in Samantha Seliger-Swenson but return the rest of their starters and were picked third in the preseason poll. Senior middle blocker Taylor Morgan, junior opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy and senior outside hitter Lexi Hart were all picked for the All-Big Ten team.
Penn State, who finished 26-8 overall and 14-6 in Big Ten play last season, was picked fourth and placed three players on the All-Big Ten team: Senior libero Kendall White, sophomore opposite hitter Jonni Parker and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord.
Illinois, led by former Nebraska assistant Chris Tamas, finished second in the league last season at 17-3 and 32-4 overall but lost two All-Big Ten performers in setter Jordyn Poulter and middle blocker Ali Bastianelli. The Illini were picked to finish fifth and will be led by unanimous preseason All-Big Ten pick Jacqueline Quade, a senior outside hitter.
Maryland junior outside hitter Erika Pritchard and Purdue senior middle blocker Blake Mohler round out the preseason All-Big Ten team.
2019 BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
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.