Just a few hours prior to Nebraska’s Red/White Scrimmage Coach John Cook announced this year’s team captains on Twitter.
With each other For each other pic.twitter.com/KQVQSLAz9z
— John Cook (@jcook2) August 19, 2017
No. 3 is senior setter Kelly Hunter who has served as a team captain each of the last two years and was the only captain on last year’s squad that included three All-American seniors. After playing as a true freshman, Hunter redshirted her second season in Lincoln, then was named a captain as a redshirt sophomore despite the fact that she had yet to start a match for the Huskers.
Last season, Hunter was named a second team AVCA All-American and was an All-Big Ten honoree as well. She was third in the Big Ten at 11.24 digs per set.
“I have no idea what people will think or what we’ll do, but one of the things I talked to our team was if you look at our lineup, we have an All-American setter who’s won a national championship and a Big Ten championship,” Cook said during the team’s preseason media day. “The last setter was probably [Penn State’s] Micah Hancock to do that. Kelly’s got the credentials. We have a great player in that position.”
After rolling with just one captain last year, Cook selected to players for this year’s team.
— John Cook (@jcook2) August 19, 2017
No. 17 is senior outside hitter Annika Albrecht, who has played more in the back row than as a pin hitter so far during her Husker career. Albrecht said she has had great examples of leadership to learn from in Lincoln and Cook has decided she is ready to shoulder that responsibility herself.
“It’s been a pretty cool experience just coming up and having some really great leaders to show a good example of what it’s like to be a senior that’s leading, or even an underclassman that leads … Just watching them develop themselves and then become those seniors and step into this bigger shoes has laid down a good path for me,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht started 26 matches last season and was fourth on the team at 1.96 digs per set while also leading the team with 28 service aces.
Cook has said that Albrecht is going to be playing six rotations for the Huskers this season, and to do that she has to be more productive as a hitter, something Albrecht said she is eager to do.
“Personally I’ve been working more on the front row stuff just because I’ve been playing back row for three years,” Albrecht said. “The front row is something that the coaches have been specifically helping me out with … I’ve been working for it for three years. I love being up there, I love being on the court with my teammates, I love the feeling of being on the court. It’s just something that I always wanted to do here.”
To be effective in that role, Cook said Albrecht — listed at 6-foot — has to get creative.
“She’s got a big arm, but she’s not that big,” Cook said. “If she hits it cross-court, she’s going to get dug, so she has to learn to attack the edges of the court, use the block and be a really, really smart hitter. We’ve had hitters like that — Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth were like that; she’s that type of outside hitter.”
“That team has to worry about defending every part of the court and the edges of the block,” Cook continued. “If we put her in the right spot, she’s great at it. That’s how she’s going to be able to get kills. She’s going to be one of those players that just frustrates the hell out of teams.”
The Huskers also released teams for the scrimmage on Twitter. Cook had previously said he would wait to determine the format for the game until the day of the event.
The Red team is made up primarily of projected starters and key reserves. Hunter will not play tonight as she continues to recover from an offseason injury and redshirt freshman Hunter Atherton will set for the Red team. The White team includes five newcomers and new assistant Kayla Banwarth as the former Husker will handle the setting duties for the White.
Fans will get their first chance to see the new-look Huskers and their captains at the Devaney Center at 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.