I seem to hear this question every year when the beginning of volleyball season rolls around. It doesn’t matter who the opponents are or where the matches are played, this still gets asked. It’s the question of “who chooses where and what opponent Nebraska volleyball plays?” Well, good news for you, I have both of those answers for you in this week’s Lo-Down.
If you are an avid volleyball fan, you will know then that Coach John Cook and Lexi Sun are both San Diego natives. Coach Cook grew up on a lemon ranch in Chula Vista and Lexi grew up near the ocean in Encinitas. When choosing early-season venues or teams to play, Nebraska always tries to keep in mind where players and coaches are from so they receive a “homecoming” during their time as a Husker. It may happen their freshman year, it may happen their senior year, in their first year of coaching or in their 20th year of coaching, but it hopefully happens at some point throughout their career.
Nebraska will also try to bring familiar faces back to Lincoln. An upcoming example would be, Natalie Morgan, who was the video and statistical coordinator a few years back with the Huskers. She now coaches at Loyola Marymount and will be returning to Lincoln for the Ameritas Players Challenge in two weeks with the Lions. Morgan isn’t the first former Husker to come back and coach for a different team.
It’s not always as simple as going to play wherever and whatever team you want, though. Most of the time, Nebraska struggles to find teams that want them to come and play in the Huskers’ home gym. Surprisingly, it is just as hard for the Big Red to find teams who want to come and play at Devaney. The reason being, the Huskers are and have been one of the best teams in the country and although you may think that teams want to face the top competition out there, they also want to put a few Ws on their records and it is very difficult to do that when you are playing Nebraska on its home floor.
On the flip side, the Huskers do look for tough competition. Sometimes you will see teams on the schedule who seem like they will be a “cake walk” based on how they have performed in the past, but other times you will run into a Stanford or Creighton. Bottom line, Nebraska tries to find the best competition out there and the teams or venues that have significance to the current roster and staff. However, you have to have matches scheduled throughout the early part of the season to prepare for conference play, so sometimes it is as basic as playing whichever teams actually want to play you. I guess that is one of the very few negatives of being a Cornhusker––you are feared by most teams in the nation!