Nebraska sophomore opposite hitter Whitney Lauenstein has stepped away from the Husker program.
She announced the news on her Instagram account on Tuesday.
#Huskers opposite hitter Whitney Lauenstein announced on Instagram that she is stepping away from the volleyball team.
Read her full comment for more details. pic.twitter.com/IoyZX3Oqji
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) January 17, 2023
“We fully support Whitney and her family in making this decision and hope that she will find peace and healing,” Coach John Cook said in a statement. “There are bigger things in life than volleyball. Whit will be missed by everyone involved with our program, especially her Husker teammates and coaches. She will always be a Husker.”
The 6-foot-2 pin started 29 matches and played in all 32 for Nebraska during a breakout second season. She led the team in total points and aces and was second in both kills and blocks. She earned the nickname “Big Hit Whit” with her high-flying athleticism and powerful swing and formed a physical block up front alongside Kaitlyn Hord and others.
Lauenstein averaged 2.78 kills per set on .238 hitting, 1.07 blocks per set and 0.26 aces per set. She notched double-digit kills 14 times including a high of 25 in Nebraska’s win over Creighton in Omaha. She had seven matches with more than five blocks including a high of eight, set twice. She hit better than .300 in 15 of her 32 matches.
Lauenstein emerged as Nebraska’s top offensive option in the nonconference, averaging 3.56 kills per set on .321 hitting. She hit better than .350 in seven of her nine matches during the nonconference, leading Nebraska to an 8-1 record.
However, Lauenstein’s attacking tailed off once Big Ten play began as she averaged just 2.54 kills per set on .206 hitting in 20 Big Ten matches. She hit .200 or below in 12 of those league matches, though she emerged as the team’s most dangerous server with 22 of her team-high 28 aces. She totaled just 20 kills and 11 errors (hitting .153) in 10 postseason sets.
Lauenstein played in 27 matches with three starts as a freshman in 2021, appearing in 67 total sets primarily as a reserve on the right side. She averaged 0.93 kills per set on .130 hitting.
Lauenstein was a three-year varsity standout for Waverly High School, amassing 1,366 kills on .338 hitting and 740 digs. As a senior, she averaged 5.6 kills per set on .339 hitting and 3.8 digs per set while leading the Vikings to the state tournament. PrepVolleyball.com ranked Lauenstein 16th in the class of 2021.
She is the second Husker to depart the program since the end of the season. Walk-on junior setter Anni Evans, also a Waverly alumna, entered the transfer portal on Dec. 10 to seek a university that offers the graduate program she wishes to pursue.
The Huskers added an opposite hitter from the transfer portal last month in former Florida standout Merritt Beason. Cook referenced the roster “undergoing some adjustments since the season ended” when the program announced Beason’s addition on Dec 23.
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.