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Top-Ranked 2023 Class Making Good Early Impression for Nebraska Volleyball

April 25, 2023

Nebraska added the top-ranked recruiting class in the country according to PrepVolleyball.com, and all five members of the class graduated from high school early to go through the spring with the Huskers.

By doing so, all five 2023 signees got a chance to make a first impression in Husker colors in the sand during beach season.

Freshman outside hitter Harper Murray (ranked second nationally) paired with Florida transfer Merritt Beason, playing primarily in the No. 2 spot. Setter Bergen Reilly (No. 4 nationally) partnered with Ally Batenhorst and played mainly as the No. 3 team. Defensive specialist Laney Choboy (No. 5) played alongside Lindsay Krause in the four spot. Opposite hitter Caroline Jurevicius (No. 7) played with Hayden Kubik while middle blocker Andi Jackson (No. 13) paired with Maisie Boesiger.

“I think awesome,” head beach coach and indoor recruiting coordinator Jaylen Reyes told Hail Varsity. “I think we knew some of them were really, really good competitors … A lot of stuff from the new kids we saw was stuff that we saw translate from when their time in club volleyball.”

One player who made the most of her beach experience was Choboy, the 5-foot-3 defensive specialist from Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the final piece of the 2023 recruiting class, picking the Huskers after decommitting from Minnesota following Hugh McCutcheon’s decision to step down and move into a new role.

“Laney Choboy, for instance, is one that honestly, most of the stuff she did in beach didn’t surprise me,” Reyes said. “There was a great quote that, when she got her all-tournament team award, the MC — and this is another thing I love about beach volleyball — the MC, he’s announcing Laney, he says a quote, I can’t remember the exact quote but it was ‘Well, she was playing on court four but you probably saw her on court two and court six because that’s where she’s been.’ Basically, Laney would dive for a ball and she’d end up in the middle of the court on another court while they’re playing, and then three plays later, she’d be in the other court over there. She won the Best Defender award which shows a lot of her hustle and grit and that’s something we knew about her.”

Reilly made an impression as well, showing off many of the traits that allowed her to play up with the USA Volleyball senior national team back in September.

“Bergen is a very gifted athlete, very smooth athlete, very even-keeled which I think is great in a setter, and you can see a lot of flashes of that kind of stuff as she’s playing beach volleyball for the first time,” Reyes said. “She actually won a lot of big matches for us in those 3-2s; Bergen and Ally won a bunch of really big matches that kind of helped us … Seeing Bergen kind of rise to that occasion, sometimes it was serving, sometimes it was digging and siding out in those matches. You saw a lot of flashes of that from Bergen even in her setting days up in South Dakota.”

Beach volleyball isn’t necessarily the best setting for showcasing the kind of high-flying athleticism you see at the net on the indoor court, but Nebraska’s pin and middle recruits did still show some glimpses of what they can do.

“We knew Harper Murray was a really good, gifted volleyball player, so that was kind of cool to see that — obviously in different facets of the game just because beach is really different than indoor volleyball,” Reyes said. “Andi Jackson and Caroline Jurevicius are both great athletes that are physically gifted and you could see flashes of that on the beach.”

The Huskers wrapped up the beach season back in mid-March and have been training at the Devaney Center ever since in anticipation of Saturday’s exhibition against Wichita State in Central City. The freshmen have continued to make an impression, including the 6-foot-3 Jackson.

“She’s a great athlete, and she’s learning a ton,” Cook said. “If you ask her, the game’s really fast for her, but it’s starting to slow down a little bit.”

Perhaps part of the game slowing down is the result of sophomore Bekka Allick taking Jackson under her wing. Allick may only be one year older than Jackson, but with a season as a starter under her belt, taking on a leadership role is something she’s focused on this spring.

“With what she’s capable of, I don’t think starting is anything that’s far out of her future,” Allick said. “And so it’s just like one of those things that when we have questions during practice, she’s asking me, and I remember on the first day, she was like, ‘Bekka, I’m going to follow you.’ I was like, ‘Oh, crap.’ Because I was used to usually being the follower; I never really had to think about that. And so just knowing that someone is watching my moves and what I’m doing in practice and how I talk to coaches and things like that, that’s what she’s going to assume is the standard. And so I think just being that kind of older sister figure is new.”

The next step for Nebraska’s talented freshman class will be showing what they can do under the bright lights of the sold-out Bison Activity Dome in Central City on Saturday. Fans that don’t have tickets will be able to watch on Nebraska Public Media as well as Big Ten Plus.

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