The Nebraska volleyball team will be without both of its setters from this year’s national championship-winning squad next season as redshirt freshman Hunter Atherton has decided to transfer according to a release from the university.
With All-American Kelly Hunter’s eligibility expiring and Atherton looking elsewhere, the only setter currently expected to be on next year’s roster is incoming freshman Nicklin Hames.
Atherton started the first two matches of the 2017 season at the VERT Challenge while Hunter recovered from an offseason injury. Atherton totaled 90 assists and 22 digs in nine sets as the starter as the Huskers lost to Oregon 3-1 and Florida 3-2 to open the season. She split time with Hunter in the next three matches as the Huskers used a 6-2 system to ease Hunter back into the lineup. Later in the season, Atherton emerged as a serving substitute, accumulating 13 aces.
Atherton appeared in 20 matches and 52 sets as a Husker, dishing out 137 assists and recording 46 digs. A native of Prospect, Ohio, she was the No. 41 recruit in the 2016 class according to PrepVolleyball.com.
Hunter was one of the most decorated players in program history and her contributions will be almost impossible to replace, but Coach John Cook did land the top-rated setter recruit on the country in Hames, according to PrepVolleyball.com.
Hames is a 5-foot-11 setter from Knoxville, Tennessee, who is ranked fourth nationally in the 2018 class. Playing for her mother at Webb High School, Hames was part of five straight state championship squads as she began her varsity career as an eighth grader. She was named an Under Armour All-American following her senior season.
“Nicklin is a great all-around player and an elite setter with strong leadership skills,” Cook said in a release after Hames signed her letter of intent. “She competes really hard and we have been impressed with her ability to take average hitters and make them great. Nicklin’s mom, Chris, is from Australia and is her high school coach, and her dad, Jason, runs the K2 club, so she comes from a significant volleyball background.”
Nebraska could look to add to the setter position through the transfer market as well which Cook has done previously in 2008 (Sydney Anderson), 2010 (Lauren Cook) and 2013 (Mary Pollmiller).
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.