Huskers Meet Oregon in NCAA Regional Semifinal
• The seventh-ranked Nebraska volleyball team will face ninth-ranked Oregon on Thursday at 10 a.m. CT in an NCAA Regional Semifinal at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
• Thursday's match will be televised nationally on ESPNU and can be streamed on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app. Eric Frede and Katie George will have the call.
• The Huskers Radio Network will broadcast all the action on their radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and the Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 29th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-America setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.
• The Huskers (26-5) and Ducks (25-5) are the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, in the Louisville Regional. The No. 1 seed and host Louisville Cardinals (28-2) will face No. 4 seed Baylor (25-6) on Thursday as well, 30 minutes following the conclusion of the Nebraska-Oregon match. The winners of Thursday's regional semifinals will meet on Saturday in the NCAA Regional Final at 3 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
• Nebraska advanced to an NCAA Regional for the 38th time in program history and for the 28th time in the past 29 seasons. The Huskers' 38 trips to an NCAA Regional are the most in NCAA history. The Huskers have advanced to 11 consecutive NCAA Regionals, the second-longest active streak in the country (behind Texas, 17).
• Nebraska holds a nation-leading streak of 10 straight NCAA Regional Final appearances and has won five national championships (1995, 2000, 2006, 2015 and 2017). NU also ranks second in NCAA history in postseason wins (125-35) and winning percentage (.781).
• The 2022 Husker squad looks to return to the NCAA Semifinals for the 17th time in program history and second year in a row after finishing as runner-up last year to Wisconsin in Columbus, Ohio. This year's NCAA Championship is set for December 15-17 at the CHI Health Center in Omaha. The city of Omaha has served as the most frequent host of the NCAA Championship in the 41-year history of the tournament. Omaha has hosted the event four times: 2006, 2008, 2015 and 2020. The Huskers won NCAA titles in Omaha in both 2006 (vs. Stanford) and 2015 (vs. Texas), and the Big Red reached the final four in 2008 before losing a five-set thriller to Penn State in the semifinals.
NOTING THE HUSKERS
• Nebraska is hitting .246 as a team and is holding opponents to .123 hitting, which leads the nation. The Huskers rank sixth nationally at 2.76 blocks per set.
• Madi Kubik, a senior outside hitter, is an AVCA All-Region selection for the fourth time in her career after leading the Huskers with 3.17 kills per set and a .247 hitting percentage, the best of her four-year Husker career. A six-rotation outside hitter, Kubik ranks third on the team in digs at 2.50 per set. Kubik was also a unanimous All-Big Ten selection this season, her second career first-team accolade and the third All-Big Ten honor of her career. An AVCA third-team All-American last year, the Husker captain ranks 14th in Nebraska school history in kills with 1,255. Kubik was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Nov. 21 this season.
• Lexi Rodriguez, a sophomore libero, also repeated as an AVCA All-Region and All-Big Ten First-Team selection this season. Rodriguez leads the Huskers with 4.29 digs per set and had 128 set assists in the Huskers' 6-2 system this regular season. A unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten Team, Rodriguez has captained a Husker defense that leads the nation with a .123 opponent hitting percentage, and she ranks second on the team with 24 service aces. Rodriguez was an AVCA First-Team All-American and the AVCA National Freshman of the Year in 2021. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10 this season.
• Kaitlyn Hord, a senior middle blocker, was named to the AVCA All-Region Team for the fifth time and the All-Big Ten Second Team this season after ranking among the nation's leaders in blocks. She currently is No. 1 in the nation with 1.60 blocks per set and averages 1.40 kills per set with a .291 hitting percentage. The graduate transfer from Penn State became a five-time All-Big Ten honoree this season. She has earned three AVCA All-America selections in her career as well.
• Bekka Allick, a freshman middle blocker, earned her first AVCA All-Region honor this season and was one of just two unanimous choices to the seven-player All-Big Ten Freshman Team. Allick was also a second-team All-Big Ten honoree. She averages 1.95 kills per set and 1.04 blocks per set with a team-best .334 hitting percentage in the regular season. Allick was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week this season.
• Opposite hitter Whitney Lauenstein is averaging 2.79 kills per set while hitting .243 and has a team-high 28 service aces, which earned her a spot on the AVCA All-Region team for the first time. The sophomore had a career-high 25 kills on .385 hitting in a win at No. 17 Creighton on Sept. 7. It was the most kills by a Husker in a match since Mikaela Foecke had 27 kills in the NCAA Championship match against Stanford in 2018.
• Nebraska opened the season in a 5-1 system but has been in a 6-2 system since Sept. 1 against Loyola Marymount. The Huskers have used three setters throughout the course of the season: Nicklin Hames (5.81 assists per set), Kennedi Orr (5.11 assists per set) and Anni Evans (4.37 per set).
• Hames, who is in her fifth season at NU, has 5,062 career assists and broke Fiona Nepo's (1995-98) career assists school record on Oct. 22 at Illinois. Hames ranks sixth among active NCAA Division I setters in career assists. An exceptional defensive setter, Hames ranks second on the team in digs at 2.92 per set this season.
• No. 9 Oregon (25-5) advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals with a 3-0 win over Loyola Marymount and a 3-1 win over Arkansas at home last weekend. The Ducks have won 15 matches in a row since an Oct. 14 loss at USC.
• Oregon has one of the top offenses in the nation with a .298 hitting percentage, which ranks fourth. Its defense ranks 149th nationally at .202.
• The Ducks are ninth overall in kills per set at 14.27. Mimi Colyer leads the team with 4.19 per set and was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and an All-Pac-12 Team member. Brooke Nuneviller adds 4.05 per set and was also an All-Pac-12 selection.
• The Huskers are 6-2 all-time against the Ducks. The teams played in an NCAA Regional Final in 2018 in Minneapolis. Nebraska won 25-22, 25-23, 25-17, en route to an NCAA runner-up finish. The teams have met three times in the NCAA Tournament with Nebraska winning two of the three.
HUSKERS RANKED NO. 7 IN AVCA POLL
• Nebraska is ranked No. 7 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week.
• The Huskers were ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the first time since 2016 the Huskers started a year atop the poll. Nebraska also held the No. 1 ranking the week of Oct. 24.
• Nebraska has been ranked No. 1 in 102 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 530 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 586 AVCA Coaches Polls it has been eligible for since it was established in 1982. Nebraska is the only program to be ranked in every eligible poll all-time.
AVCA HALL OF FAMER JOHN COOK IN 23RD SEASON AT NEBRASKA
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 23rd season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2022. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, 10 final fours, 12 conference championships and 20 top-10 final rankings since 2000.
• Cook has 817 career wins and is one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history. Since taking over the program in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to a nation-leading .871 win percentage (656-97).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 57 AVCA All-Americans and 19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, both among the best in the nation. He is a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year, earning the prestigious honor in 2000 and 2005, and a seven-time conference coach of the year, including Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017, his first and second Big Ten honors with the Huskers in their Big Ten era (2011-present).
• Cook is one of only three active coaches - and one of six all-time - to be a two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year and was honored in 2008 by USA Volleyball, receiving its All-Time Great Coach Award.
• Cook was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2017, joining former Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit in the hall.
REYES STEPS INTO LEAD ASSISTANT ROLE
• Last December, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jaylen Reyes moved into the Huskers' lead assistant role following the departure of associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand, who was named the new head women's volleyball coach at Long Beach State.
• Reyes joined the Husker staff in March 2018. As the Huskers' recruiting coordinator, he has helped NU land the nation's No. 1 recruiting classes for 2021 and 2023, and the No. 2 class for 2022, according to PrepVolleyball.com.
• Reyes coaches the Husker liberos and defense while helping coordinate game plans and scouting reports and assisting with other positions.
• In 2021, Nebraska boasted an elite defense and held opposing teams to just .148 hitting for the year. A former libero at BYU, Reyes led Nebraska's back row defense to unprecedented heights in the 2021 season. Led by AVCA first-team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Lexi Rodriguez, the Husker defense propelled the young squad all the way to the NCAA Championship match. Rodriguez set a Nebraska freshman record for digs in a season (524), and as a team the Huskers averaged 16.98 digs per set, the third-highest total in school history.
HUNTER EARNS FULL-TIME ASSISTANT POSITION AT ALMA MATER
• Last December, volunteer assistant coach Kelly Hunter was promoted to a full-time assistant role for the Huskers beginning in 2022.
• Following her professional playing career overseas, Hunter joined the Husker staff two years ago. She has served in multiple roles as a volunteer assistant (2020-21), interim assistant coach (January-August 2020) and graduate assistant (2019). She fulfilled her stint as an interim assistant coach in 2020 while former associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand prepared for the 2020 Olympic Games prior to his arrival in Lincoln.
• Hunter set the Huskers to national championships in 2015 and 2017 and was a two-time All-American. She was also the 2017 Big Ten Setter of the Year and a two-time All-Big Ten selection. The three-year Husker captain received numerous honors from volleyball publications, including National Player of the Year and All-America first-team honors from PrepVolleyball.com. Hunter was also named co-Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship with teammate Mikaela Foecke after the Huskers beat Florida in the national title match in 2017.
OMAHA TO HOST NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THIRD TIME IN EIGHT YEARS
• The NCAA Championship returns to Omaha in 2022 for the third time in the last eight years and the fifth time overall. The University of Nebraska and the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) will host the NCAA Championship at the CHI Health Center on Dec. 15-17.
• Omaha has served as the most frequent host of the NCAA Championship in the 41-year history of the tournament. Omaha has hosted the event four times: 2006, 2008, 2015 and 2020.
• Omaha hosted the entire 48-team NCAA Tournament in April 2021 after the 2020 season was delayed until the spring because of COVID-19. Kentucky beat Texas, 3-1, to win its first NCAA title that season.
• The Huskers won NCAA titles in Omaha in both 2006 (vs. Stanford) and 2015 (vs. Texas), and the Big Red reached the final four in 2008 before losing a five-set thriller to Penn State in the semifinals.
• Four of the top 11 crowds in NCAA history have occurred at the NCAA Semifinals and Finals played at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.
• Future NCAA Volleyball Championship sites include Tampa (2023), Louisville (2024) and Kansas City (2025).
HUSKERS REACH CONSECUTIVE SELLOUT MILESTONE
• Nebraska volleyball celebrated its 300th consecutive regular-season sellout on Nov. 11 against Iowa. The Huskers finished the regular season at 303 consecutive sellouts.
• The sellout streak dates back to 2001 at the approximately 4,000-capacity NU Coliseum. Despite moving into the 7,907-seat Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013, the sellout streak continued.
• Nebraska's sellout streak is an NCAA women's record. The Huskers have led the nation in attendance every season since moving into the Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013.
• Nebraska volleyball fans have continued to set the bar for attendance throughout the years:
• Nebraska set a new school record for attendance - 8,632 - against No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 18, 2019.
• A new NCAA attendance record was set at the 2021 NCAA Championship with 18,755 fans turning out to watch Wisconsin and Nebraska battle for the national title at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
• Eight of the top nine crowds in NCAA Volleyball history are all matches that have involved the Huskers.
• When Nebraska played at Creighton on Sept. 7, 2022 at the CHI Health Center, a then-regular-season NCAA record crowd of 15,797 turned out to watch the Huskers defeat the Bluejays, 3-2. It shattered the previous regular-season record of 14,022 (set by Nebraska and Creighton in 2018). The record lasted nine days, however, as Wisconsin and Florida drew a crowd of 16,833 to the Kohl Center on Sept. 16.
• Of the 14 largest NCAA volleyball regular-season crowds, 13 have been matches Nebraska played in.
KNUCKLES, KUBIK, RODRIGUEZ NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS
• The three team captains for the Nebraska volleyball program in 2022 are senior defensive specialist Kenzie Knuckles, outside hitter Madi Kubik and sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez.
• After two years as NU's libero, Knuckles moved into a defensive specialist role last season and was named a team captain for the first time. She averaged 2.06 digs with 0.29 aces per set. Knuckles finished with a double-digit dig performance seven times and ranked 10th in Big Ten play for aces per set (0.31). Knuckles also contributed 52 kills as an attacker out of the back row.
• Kubik was an AVCA third-team All-American in 2021, and she received first-team AVCA North All-Region and first-team All-Big Ten honors. She averaged a team-leading 3.49 kills per set to go with 2.11 digs while adding 21 aces and 55 blocks. Kubik ranked third in Big Ten play in kills per set with 4.11.
• Rodriguez was recognized as the National Freshman of the Year, a first-team AVCA All-American, North Region Freshman of the Year and first-team North All-Region by the AVCA in 2021. She was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection.
HORD HEADLINES TALENTED GROUP OF NEW HUSKERS
• Nebraska has five new players on its roster this season: Penn State graduate transfer Kaitlyn Hord (Lexington, Ky.), freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick (Lincoln, Neb.), freshman defensive specialist Maisie Boesiger (Firth, Neb.), freshman outside hitter Hayden Kubik (West Des Moines, Iowa) and freshman middle blocker Maggie Mendelson (Ogden, Utah). The Huskers' signing class was the No. 2-ranked class by PrepVolleyball.
• The 6-4 Hord was named to the AVCA All-America Second Team and was a first-team All-Big Ten choice for the third straight season last year at Penn State. She averaged a career-best 2.92 kills per set while hitting .394. Hord recorded 1.40 blocks per set, which ranked third in the Big Ten and seventh nationally.
MENDELSON, U.S. U19 TEAM WIN GOLD AT PAN AMERICAN CUP
• Nebraska freshman middle blocker Maggie Mendelson and the U.S. Girls' U19 National Team won the gold medal at the Pan American Cup in Tulsa, Okla., in late July. The U.S. team went 5-0 at the tournament without dropping a set.
• Mendelson, the team captain, had six kills, two blocks and two ace serves in the USA's 25-15, 25-14, 25-17 sweep of Brazil in the championship match.
ALLICK, RODRIGUEZ CLAIM GOLD AT PAN AMERICAN CUP
• The U.S. Women's U21 National Team - with Nebraska freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick and sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez - defeated Argentina 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-14) in June to win the Pan American Cup at La Paz Arena in Baja California Sur.
• It is the second time the U.S. has won the title. The last time was in 2017. Both the U.S. Women (5-0) and Argentina (4-2) qualified for the 2023 FIVB U21 World Championship.
• Allick added 14 points on 12 kills and two blocks. Rodriguez, the libero and team captain, was credited with 24 digs and 12 excellent receptions.