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Nebraska Seniors Madi Kubik and Kenzie Knuckles Will Not Return for a Fifth Season

November 22, 2022

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the 2020 season and led to the NCAA granting a blanket eligibility waiver for all athletes who participated during that year, it sent ripples throughout college athletics that would last at least four years, if not more.

For Nebraska volleyball, the 2019 scholarship recruiting class is the final one that will have to make the extra eligibility decision, and both of Nebraska’s seniors have already made that call heading into the final week of the regular season.

Neither Madi Kubik nor Kenzie Knuckles will return for a fifth season at Nebraska.

“I will not be returning after the season,” Kubik said on Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s been great. I’ve talked a lot about this with Coach and with our teammates and staff. I think it’s been an awesome four years that I’ve got to compete here and I’ve absolutely loved my career and I’m really excited for our younger players to get the opportunity to be leaders in the program and just encouraging them and mentoring them this season has been really great. I’m excited for the future.”

Kubik was a day-one starter and has been a four-year six-rotation player for the Huskers her entire career. She’s leading the team in kills at 3.23 per set and just captured her fourth carer Big Ten Player of the Week honor.

Knuckles announced that she had made the same decision shortly after Kubik.

“It was a tough decision, but I met with Coach multiple times about it,” Knuckles said. “I have absolutely loved this program, it’s like a family to me, and it’s so hard saying goodbye to it. But I just think that after four-and-a-half years, I think that the time has come. Madi and I got here together and we’re going to leave together. Kind of what Madi said too, just passing the baton off a little bit. I think that we have so many players that are coming in and so many underclassmen right now that are in a position to lead and they deserve that. So I’m I’m really excited for after this.”

Knuckles was a day-one starter for Nebraska too, spending her first two seasons as the team’s libero before sliding into a defensive specialist role once Lexi Rodriguez arrived in 2021.

Nebraska signed the top-ranked 2023 recruiting class according to PrepVolleyball.com, which will join the No. 2 2022 class as underclassmen on the roster next season. The current group of sophomores, ranked as the top recruiting class in 2021, will be upperclassmen next season. Nebraska appears to hav all 12 scholarships spoken for next season already barring offseason attrition. Walk-on Anni Evans is set to be the only senior on the 2023 roster.

Knuckles said making the decision has allowed her to play more freely down the stretch of the season.

“Every game that I go into, honestly, every ball that I touch, I’m just like, there’s no point to regret anything so I’m just going to go out there and leave it all out there,” Knuckles said.

Nebraska will host the final week of the regular season at the Devaney Center with a chance to win at least a share of the Big Ten title with a pair of wins. The Huskers will get a rematch with No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday before facing No. 9 Minnesota on senior day Saturday, and both Kubik and Knuckles will join fifth-year players Nicklin Hames and Kaitlyn Hord during the post-match senior day celebration.

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