Summer workouts are nearly complete for a new-look Nebraska volleyball team that features four returning starters and eight newcomers (including one who began her career at Nebraska). On Thursday, they stopped by the Devaney Center for a little fun and and a lot of photos.
The reigning champion Huskers rolled through the Devaney Center by class to get their head shots and action photos taken for the new season. The tour included a stop in the “laser room” to shoot some footage for pre-game videos.
— Husker Volleyball (@Huskervball) August 2, 2018
“I think the photo shoots are fun,” said outside hitter Lexi Sun, a transfer from Texas. “I think it’s a fun way to open the season. We’re here, obviously, with all the sophomores right now and we’re having fun with it.”
Sun is one of those newcomers. The California native who spent her freshman year as a Longhorn said she’s been welcomed into the program with open arms.
“Awesome,” Sun said. “I think as a team, we all get along so well. We’re like sisters and it’s been so fun getting to know them and hang out with them this summer.”
She’s said she’s seen an equally warm welcome out in the Lincoln community.
“I think that being in Lincoln, everyone’s really nice, like really, really nice,” Sun said. “At first I was like ‘This is kind of weird,’ coming from California, you don’t really go to of your way to be like, ‘Hey.’ But I feel like everyone’s just super friendly and so nice.”
Nebraska’s roster for next season includes three seniors, one junior, six sophomores and five freshmen. Last year’s team brought back the same number of starters — four — but this year’s offseason has been totally different from last year’s.
“It’s definitely different,” senior libero Kenzie Maloney said. “We graduated five seniors. It’s a super young team. Seven newcomers. I think that’s just on me and Mikaela [Foecke] to get them acclimated and make sure they know how things flow here, make sure they know the rules and stuff like that. I don’t think this group is going to be hard to get in the flow of things because they’re super respectful, super attentive to everything that we’ve said so far. It should be a pretty easy job.”
The transition to college was tough in the beginning for the freshmen, but middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach said it got easier and easier as the summer unfolded.
“It was a little rough at first because we came in so early in the summer, but with classes and stuff it’s helped us ease into the process and with the open gyms and just getting to know everyone,” Schwarzenbach said. “We’ve had a couple team get-togethers so it’s just nice knowing that the team’s so close.”
The Huskers have one more summer workout left before they’ve officially completed the offseason. Both Schwarzenbach and freshman setter Nicklin Hames said the workouts were very difficult at the beginning, but both have found their stride and settled into the routine.
“They were good,” Sun said about the workouts. “It was fun to work with [assistant director of strength and conditioning] Brian [Kmitta] and [athletic trainer] Jolene [Emricson] and all the other girls and just get to know them without getting in the gym as much with the coaches. I think it was really cool and out of volleyball and training, getting to know them as individuals, it was awesome.”
Mari Kurkova, the junior setter from the Czech Republic who recently joined the team, was slated to arrive in Lincoln on Thursday night, giving Coach John Cook a full roster to work with when preseason practice begins on Wednesday.
“I think we’re all super excited for the season to start and just to be able to get in the gym and play with each other and finally have the coaches there to work with us to get ready for the season,” Sun said. “We’re all really excited.”
The Red-White Scrimmage, which is nearly sold out already, is set for Aug. 18 with the season opener against Florida to follow on Aug. 24.
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.