Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Padding the Stats: On Taylor Kissinger and High School Volleyball

September 21, 2020

While we were all waiting on pins and needles for news about the Big Ten football season to come down on Tuesday, Nebraska slipped in some news of a different kind: the women’s basketball program announced that Taylor Kissinger was retiring from basketball.

I’ve only covered a handful of women’s basketball games over the last few years — Derek Peterson does a great job on that beat for us — but I have followed along as Kissinger went from top-100 recruit coming out of Minden to one of the best 3-point shooters in the Big Ten to, sadly, someone who struggled to stay on the court.

Kissinger played in 25-of-32 games as a freshman, all 30 as a sophomore and just five this past season. First a concussion, then a hip injury kept her on the shelf. It’s that hip injury that led to the decision to retire as she suffered a setback in her recovery over the summer.

Kissinger was an absolute sniper for the Huskers, converting 122 of her 322 career triples, king her the most accurate shooter in program history at 40.4%. She was a lot of fun to watch.

When I saw the news, I couldn’t help but think back to my days at the Creightonian — Creighton’s student newspaper — as the sports editor. During my senior year, I had to write about the early retirement of another talented women’s basketball player — Carli Tritz.

Tritz was a dynamic athlete, earning MVC Newcomer of the Year as a freshman and first-team All-MVC as well as MVC Tournament MVP honors as a sophomore. Between those two seasons, however, she tore her meniscus and her knee deteriorated from there over the next two years. She was still productive as a junior, surpassing 1,000 career points in just three years, but the pain grew to be too much heading into her senior year.

Tritz and I were in the same class at Creighton. In fact, we took a class together during our freshman year. That was one of he most difficult things I had to write during my time at Creighton.

Fast-forward back to the present and Tritz (now Berger) is an assistant coach on Jim Flanery’s staff at Creighton, a job for which she’s perfectly suited. She was able to find her post-retirement calling, which was really cool for me to see when it happened. I hope Kissinger can do the same.

“Injuries are forcing me to move to the next part of my life in basketball, which hopefully leads to a career helping other players achieve their dreams,” Kissinger said in the release.

Nebraska hasn’t shared exactly what Kissinger plans to do this season and beyond, but I wish her well in whatever path she chooses.

Changing gears, on Tuesday, I made my way out to Firth, Nebraska, for the first time to take in some high school volleyball. The match proved to be worth the drive as I saw my second five-set thriller in the last three weeks.

I dipped my toe into high school volleyball coverage last year, attending one Elkhorn South match during the regular season to get a look at Nebraska commit Rylee Gray and then covering the Class B state championship between Omaha Skutt (led by Nebraska commit Lindsay Krause) and Omaha Duchesne.

Without the Huskers to cover this fall, I decided to fill the void with high school matches, and I’m glad I did. I’m no volleyball expert, but the talent in this state is outstanding.

Heading into this week, I’d seen both Krause and Gray (as well as Papillion-La Vista senior and Creighton commit Norah Sis, another top-30 national recruit) play multiple times, but Tuesday was my first chance to see the other three Nebraska commits — Waverly’s Whitney Lauenstein and Bekka Allick and Norris’ Maisie Boesiger.

Lauenstein didn’t have her best game by any means, and it seems she can get a bit too error-prone at times, but it’s not hard to see why John Cook liked her. At 6-foot-1, Lauenstein can generate some serious power on her swings and she made some terrific defensive plays in the back row as well. has Allick ranked No. 6 nationally in the 2022 class, and she’s another prospect with terrific physical tools at 6-foot-3. There were stretches of the match where she took over as both an attacker and a blocker, and she still has another year-and-a-half to keep developing before she sets foot on campus.

Boesiger is the newest Nebraska commit, and I picked a good time to see her play. Boesiger is in her third year starting at setter for the Titans, and it wasn’t hard to see why she was able to earn a rotation spot as a freshman. She made some terrific sets in difficult spots on was on the money most of the night. Boesiger is a really talented setter. However, she’s also 5-foot-6 and Nebraska has the nation’s top-ranked setter (and player overall) in Kennedi Orr set to arrive on campus in January. That’s why Nebraska is looking at Boesiger to play more of a defensive specialist role in Lincoln.

I’m looking forward to double-dipping with volleyball this week as the LPS Classic at Lincoln Southeast on Saturday features a stacked pool that includes Norris, Elkhorn South, Papillion-La Vista and Bellevue West. I’ve seen all four teams play already, but they’re all worth another look.

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