It’s a new season for the Nebraska volleyball team.
And then another one after that.
The No. 6 Huskers have six matches left in the Big Ten season. Then they will move on to the NCAA Tournament, where they could possibly play six more matches.
“What I’m telling the team today is we have six Big Ten matches left,” Nebraska coach John Cook said Monday at his weekly press conference. “And one of our goals is to win the Big Ten.
“It’s very similar to what will start in the NCAA Tournament. You have six matches to win a national championship. So we’re looking at two seasons here — six matches in the Big Ten and trying to work to win a Big Ten (title), and then hopefully we’ll get a shot to do the same thing in the NCAA Tournament.”
It’s also something new for the freshmen, including starting libero Kenzie Knuckles and starting outside hitter Madi Kubik. The freshmen aren’t used to the season going this long.
“I’ve been telling the freshmen it goes fast at the end. It flies by,” Cook said. “They’re not freshmen anymore. Even though the high school seasons have all ended, sometimes these freshmen think the first or second weekend of November the season is over. They have to become sophomores now. That will be the other message.”
There have been ups and downs for the freshmen for sure. Cook said. They have good days and bad days.
“We’ve had two people forget IDs, if that’s any indication,” he said. “We had some miscommunication in the Iowa game (Saturday) we have to address. We forgot to talk on some plays. They forget water bottles. Typical freshmen stuff.”
One freshman left her ID at her dorm room when the team was leaving Lincoln and she had to go back and get it so she could get on the plane. Another left hers in the hotel room on a road trip and had to go back and get it.
It’s nothing new. Every player goes through it. That’s something Cook reminds the older players.
“As the older players say, ‘It’s so annoying,’ I remind Lauren Stivrins, I say ‘You remember when you were a freshman,’” Cook said.
The Huskers (20-3, 12-2 in the Big Ten) are coming off two sweeps last week. They rolled past Northwestern on Wednesday at the Devaney Center before taking care of Iowa Saturday on the road.
Junior outside hitter Lexi Sun had 14 kills and hit .444 in the win over Iowa. Cook said Sun was in “a zone,” much like a hitter in baseball or a quarterback in football.
“When you get in the zone, everything slows down,” Cook said. “You can see where everybody is and get there and do what you want. Hopefully that happens a lot with our outside hitters more than it doesn’t. And there are some nights they can’t see it and then they have to find a way to work through that.”
Cook said Sun and sophomore middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach have both shown some toughness recently. Schwarzenbach injured her thumb but played through it, and Sun took a hard hit to the head from an opponent’s attack.
“We just gave her a big shot,” Cook said of Schwarzenbach. “She’s tough. Didn’t even cry or nothing. She wouldn’t have said anything unless our trainer asked her. Tough girl.
“I told our team we’ve done some tough things here. Lexi took a shot, got right back up, Callie’s thumb. Our team is showing some toughness. I told them, ‘The football boys would be proud of you guys.’”