LINCOLN, Neb, — On Wednesday, Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook met with the media for the first time since the Huskers suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday against Ohio State.
“The whole thing was a nightmare,” Cook said. “I saw stuff I’d never seen from this group. I don’t know what happened that night. Ask Bill Belichick why [the New England Patriots] got skunked last week. It’s just sports. What I reminded them of was we went 51 weeks without a loss. We probably had as tough a stretch of 29 matches or whatever we won … You look at how many ones, twos, top 10s, ranked teams we’ve played over the last year in that stretch. Again, Ohio State played really well so you have to give them credit. They came in, they responded very well; we’re focused on Indiana and getting better.”
The home loss was a new experience for the team, and Cook said the Huskers didn’t quite know to react as things started going downhill. Cook said his upperclassmen started to show some leadership late, but it wasn’t enough.
“They were trying and towards the end, Kadie [Rolfzen], Briana [Holman], Amber [Rolfzen], Justine [Wong-Orantes], Kelly [Hunter] started stepping up,” Cook said. “They just waited too long. But I think they were kind of in shock, like ‘what the heck is going on here.’ And I was too; it was like ‘Is this for real?’ That’s what it felt like. You’re in shock. I started seeing it at the end, but it was just too late.”
Cook said he had a bad feeling about how the team had been practicing for a couple weeks leading up to the game against the Buckeyes, and it culminated in the loss. However, in the two practices since then, Cook said the team has been great.
“[I’ve seen] a sense of urgency and a really high level of play from the entire group,” Cook said. “They’re not happy with what happened Saturday.”
Cook said a big part of the team’s struggles was the vigorous travel schedule. He wasn’t able to spend as much time practicing as he would like and it led to degrading fundamentals that cost the Huskers against Ohio State.
“We’re always working on the same things – fundamentals,” Cook said. “That’s what I told them Monday: ‘We’re always going to work on fundamentals.’ Part of the problem is with the schedule we’ve had the last two weeks it’s been very difficult to get much training in because we’ve been traveling and playing. This week we’ve actually had a couple days where we can focus on fundamentals, running our system, what we want to do to get better and shoring those things up and going back and rehearsing those things. That’s what we did yesterday and we’ll do a little more today and preparing for the two teams this week. When you’re traveling, playing mid-week, it’s very difficult. You’re just trying to maintain, keep them fresh.”
One player who has struggled recently is senior outside hitter Andie Malloy, and Cook said they worked to get her back on track in practice this week.
“She’s just tentative,” Cook said. “She got put in trashcan yesterday and did great. That’s how we get them out of it. For you non-volleyball people, that’s the Oklahoma Drill for volleyball.”
The Huskers will return to the Devaney Center to host Indiana on Friday with the first serve set for 7 p.m.
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.