The No. 6 Nebraska volleyball team continues the NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis this weekend with a regional semifinal match against No. 10 Kentucky on Friday at 1 p.m. at Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion. The other regional semifinal match features No. 2 Minnesota against No. 14 Oregon at 3:30 p.m. Friday’s winners will meet in the regional final on Saturday at 5 p.m.
• Friday’s match will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on WatchESPN.com. Husker Sports Network will broadcast the match on HSN radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and on the official Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 25th 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.
About the Huskers
• Nebraska has won 10 straight matches to improve its overall record to 26-6. The Huskers have reached 25 wins 18 times in John Cook’s 19 seasons as head coach.
• The Huskers are making their 34th NCAA regional appearance in 37 trips to the NCAA Tournament. That is tied with Stanford for the most all-time regional appearances.
• Nebraska has been to a regional 18 times in John Cook’s 19 seasons as head coach, including each of the last six seasons. The Huskers are 15-2 in regional semifinals in Cook’s time at NU and have won six straight regional semifinal matches.
• The 2018 Husker squad is looking to become the first Nebraska volleyball team to reach four straight final fours, though the Huskers are trying to do so with seven players on the roster who have never been to a final four. This year’s NCAA Championship is set for December 13-15 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
• Nebraska’s two seniors who have been with the program all four years – Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney – are 18-1 in their NCAA Tournament careers. The duo is a combined 49-2 all-time in the months of November and December.
• Nebraska won its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament match against Missouri in the second round to improve to 110-31 all-time in the postseason. The Huskers and Stanford are the only two volleyball programs with 100 wins in the NCAA Tournament.
• John Cook is 69-14 in the NCAA Tournament at Nebraska. Including his seven seasons at Wisconsin, Cook is 77-18 in the postseason.
• Nebraska his hit better than .350 in five straight matches, including marks of .352 against Hofstra and .384 against Missouri in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the first time the Huskers have hit at least .350 in five straight matches in the John Cook era at Nebraska (2000-present).
• Nebraska leads the nation in opponent hitting percentage at .132. Nebraska’s opponent hitting percentage is its best mark since holding foes to .126 in the 2005 season. The best defensive team in the John Cook era was the 2004 squad that held opponents to .103 hitting for the season.
• The Huskers have held 25 of their 32 opponents under .200 hitting this year, and 13 have hit below .100.
• Nebraska ranks 12th nationally in blocks per set at 2.82. Freshman Callie Schwarzenbach leads the team with 1.40 blocks per set, which ranks 20th in the nation. Schwarzenbach has 164 blocks this season, which set a new Nebraska freshman record for blocks in a season, passing Tracy Stalls (160) in 2004. Schwarzenbach was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
• The Huskers rank 12th in the nation in aces per set with 1.70. That is the Huskers’ highest ace total since 2007 (1.82) and is the third-highest mark by a Husker team in the rally scoring era.
• Senior co-captain Mikaela Foecke, who was named Big Ten Player of the Week four times this season, leads the Huskers with 3.74 kills per set and adds 2.63 digs per set with 42 service aces this season. Her current kills per set average is Nebraska’s best since 2013 (Kelsey Robinson, 4.45). Foecke was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection. She has 20 aces in her NCAA Tournament career, the second-highest total in Nebraska history. Only Jordan Larson (36) has more.
• Fellow senior captain Kenzie Maloney is averaging 4.07 digs per set to lead the Husker defense. She was named to the All-Big Ten Team as well.
• Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins is averaging 2.29 kills per set on a team-best .411 hitting percentage, NU’s highest individual hitting percentage since 2007 (Tracy Stalls, .473). Stivrins was also an All-Big Ten selection.
• Since debuting for the Huskers on Sept. 14, Lexi Sun has put up 3.12 kills per set and 2.73 digs per set.
• Freshman setter Nicklin Hames has 21 double-doubles and is averaging 10.32 assists and 3.28 digs per set. Her 21 double-doubles are the second-most in school history in the rally-scoring era, trailing only Jordan Larson’s 22 double-doubles in 2006. Hames was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and made the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
• John Cook, Nebraska: 19th year at Nebraska (557-75); 26th year overall (718-148)
• Craig Skinner, Kentucky: 14th year at Kentucky (328-117)
• Nebraska is 8-2 all-time against Kentucky and defeated the Wildcats in an NCAA Regional Final match in 2017 in Lexington, 3-1, to advance to the final four. The Huskers won 25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 25-22 behind 18 kills on .375 hitting from Mikaela Foecke.
• No. 10 Kentucky won the SEC title this season with a perfect 18-0 record. The Wildcats, at 26-4 overall, have won 23 straight matches after starting the season 3-4 with losses to No. 13 Creighton, No. 10 USC, Northern Iowa and No. 6 Texas.
• Leah Edmond leads the team with 4.63 kills per set on .294 hitting, along with 1.66 digs per set. Edmond was the SEC Player of the Year this season.
• Setter Madison Lilley is putting up 11.33 assists per set and 2.41 digs per set. Lilley was an All-SEC selection, along with Edmond, Brooke Morgan – who averaged 2.36 kills and 0.99 blocks per set – and libero Gabby Curry, who averaged 4.42 digs per set.
• Kentucky is hitting .305 on the season, which ranks fourth nationally. Its 14.50 kills per set ranks eighth. The Wildcats are holding opponents to .186 hitting on the season.
Foecke, Maloney Captain Young Husker Squad
• Seniors Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney are co-captaining the 2018 Husker squad. Foecke and Maloney are the lone players on the team who have been part of both the 2015 and 2017 NCAA Championship teams, and the duo will look to become the first in program history to appear in four straight final fours and win three national championships.
• Foecke, an outside hitter from West Point, Iowa, was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship in both 2015 and 2017 after leading the Huskers to their fourth and fifth NCAA titles all-time.
• Foecke became the fourth player in NCAA history to twice be named the MOP – as she also earned the honor in 2015 – and she was the first to earn the honor in non-consecutive years. The other three players to earn two most outstanding player awards were: Lauren Cacciamani (Penn State, 1998 and 1999), Keao Burdine (USC, 2002 and 2003) and Megan Hodge (Penn State, 2007 and 2008).
• Foecke was named an AVCA second-team All-American and was unanimously selected to the All-Big Ten team and was an AVCA All-North Region pick for the third straight year in 2017.
• Foecke was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection this season for the second time. She had a career-high 25 kills on .351 hitting with 13 digs at Creighton on Sept. 6, earning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week honors for the first of four times this season.
• Foecke leads the Huskers with 3.74 kills per set on .317 hitting with 2.63 digs per set. She ranks fourth on Nebraska’s career kills list with 1,608. Her 131 career aces are eighth-most in school history.
• Maloney, a libero from Louisville, Kentucky, was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team in 2017 and was a PrepVolleyball.com first-team All-American after serving a school-record 13 aces during the NCAA Tournament.
• In her first season as NU’s libero in 2017, Maloney played all 125 sets and averaged 3.62 digs per set and 0.95 aces per set with season totals of 452 digs and 37 aces, second-most on the team.
• Maloney was named to the All-Big Ten team this year. She is averaging a team-high 4.07 digs per set and had a career-high 25 digs in a win at No. 14 Creighton and again at No. 3 Minnesota.
• Maloney became the 11th Husker all-time to reach 1,000 career digs when she did so against Missouri State on Sept. 15. She now has 1,346 career digs, sixth-most in school history.
Stivrins, Sweet Stepping Up in Sophomore Seasons
• After earning All-Big Ten Freshman team honors in 2017, middle blocker Lauren Stivrins and opposite hitter Jazz Sweet are both playing bigger roles as sophomores in the program.
• Stivrins is averaging 2.29 kills per set on a team-best .411 hitting percentage to go with 1.22 blocks per set. She added serving to her repertoire this season and has 25 aces. Stivrins was an All-Big Ten honoree.
• Stivrins finished the 2017 season with 2.07 kills per set on .309 hitting and 1.02 blocks per set while playing all 125 sets. She tallied nine kills on .316 hitting against Florida in the NCAA Championship match and had seven kills and a career-high nine blocks in the NCAA Semifinal vs. Penn State.
• Stivrins picked up her first career Big Ten Player of the Week honor after becoming the third Husker in school history to post a 1.000 hitting percentage with at least 10 kills when she went 10-for-10 in a sweep of Northwestern on Sept. 28.
• Sweet also played in all 125 sets last season and had 2.22 kills per set on .273 hitting in her first year as a Husker. Sweet posted 12 kills on .375 hitting against Penn State in the NCAA Semifinal.
• This year, Sweet moved into the starting lineup for the Big Red and is third on the team in kills per set at 2.31. Sweet also has 92 blocks this season, third-most on the team behind only the two middles.
Sun Shining for Huskers
• Nebraska added sophomore outside hitter Lexi Sun to its attack in the offseason. The University of Texas transfer was a 2017 first-team All-Big 12 selection and received All-America honorable mention in her freshman season with the Longhorns. A native of Encinitas, California, Sun was the PrepVolleyball.com National Player of the Year, the Gatorade Player of the Year and the All-USA Volleyball Player of the Year as a senior at Santa Fe Christian.
• Sun made her Husker debut on Sept. 14 against New Mexico. She had 13 kills on .346 hitting with five digs, and she followed that the next day with nine kills on .368 hitting with seven digs against Missouri State.
• Sun is playing all six rotations for the Huskers and is averaging 3.12 kills and 2.73 digs per set.
Young Huskers Making Instant Impact
• Eight of the 15 Huskers on the roster are new to the team this season, and five are freshmen.
• Setter Nicklin Hames has started every match and has 21 double-doubles. The Maryville, Tennessee native is averaging 10.32 assists and 3.28 digs per set. Her 38 service aces are second-most on the team. Hames was an All-Big Ten Freshman Team member.
• Middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach has played in every match and leads the team in blocks with 1.40 per set. Schwarzenbach was also an All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection.
• Defensive specialist Megan Miller has played in 25 matches and is providing 1.83 digs per set and has 17 aces from the service line. Miller had a career-high 23 digs at No. 15 Michigan on Nov. 10.
• Outside hitter Capri Davis has played in 22 matches and was huge for the Huskers in a 3-2 comeback win at No. 14 Creighton early this season, providing 18 kills.
• Defensive specialist Chen Abramovich made her first collegiate appearance against Wake Forest on Aug. 31.
Smith Makes Return to Huskers
• Senior setter Brooke Smith was part of the Huskers’ 2015 NCAA Championship team and 2016 Big Ten Championship team. She played the 2017 season at Kansas State before transferring back to Nebraska for her senior season this year. Smith was cleared by the NCAA to start playing for the Huskers on Sept. 7 and has played in 12 matches, recording nine assists and one ace.
Huskers Played School-Record 19 Home Matches
• Nebraska played a school-record 19 regular-season home matches in 2018.
• Nine of the Huskers’ 10 non-conference matches were played at the Devaney Center this season. The only road trip was to Omaha, where NU beat No. 14 Creighton, 3-2, on Sept. 6.
• The 2018 season marked the first time the Huskers didn’t play a non-conference match outside of Nebraska since 2007.
Huskers Record 250th Consecutive Regular-Season Sellout
• Nebraska holds an NCAA women’s record 253 consecutive regular-season sellouts. The Huskers celebrated their 250th straight regular-season sellout with a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 2.
Huskers Ranked No. 6 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 99 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 485 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 540 AVCA Coaches Polls since it was established in 1982. Nebraska and Stanford are the only two programs to be ranked in every poll all-time.
Cook Adds to Legacy; Joins AVCA Hall of Fame
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 19th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2018. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, eight final fours, 12 conference championships and 16 top-10 final rankings since 2000. Cook has 718 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 .881 win percentage in that time (557-75).
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 52 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 was named the AVCA North Region Coach of the Year in 2016, his fifth career regional coaching honor and fourth while at Nebraska.
• Cook is one of only four 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.
• Cook became the 10th active Division I head coach to reach 700 career wins with the Huskers’ eighth win of the season on Sept. 14 against New Mexico. Cook is one of 27 Division I coaches all-time to have reached the 700-win mark.
• Cook passed former Husker head coach and AVCA Hall of Famer Terry Pettit on the all-time career wins list earlier this season. Pettit finished his career with 694 career wins, which Cook passed on Aug. 31 when Nebraska beat Wake Forest.
Husker Fans Set Attendance Standard Once Again
• Nebraska is averaging a nation-leading 8,205 fans per match in 2018, which would be the sixth straight season the Huskers have led the nation in attendance.
• Nebraska fans led the nation in attendance for a fifth straight season in 2017, averaging 8,202 fans per match, nearly 2,000 more than any other school. In 2016, the Huskers also led the nation with an average attendance of 8,210 fans per match, a new NCAA attendance record.
• In 2013, the Huskers led the nation in attendance (8,175) for the first time since 1992, ending Hawaii’s 21-year reign as the national leader.
• The Huskers repeated as attendance champions in 2014 with 8,083 fans per match, which included a school-record 8,585 fans at the Oct. 3 win against Penn State.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top three nationally in attendance every season since 1990 (27 straight seasons).
Cook’s Coaching Tree Continues to Grow
• Nebraska head coach John Cook’s assistant coaches have a great track record of moving on to become head coaches.
• Following the 2017 season, Husker assistant Tyler Hildebrand was named the Director of Coaching, Beach Volleyball for USA Volleyball in his home state of California.
• After the 2016 season, Nebraska assistants Chris Tamas and Dani Busboom Kelly both accepted high-level Division I head coaching jobs. Busboom Kelly became the head coach at Louisville, while Tamas accepted the head coaching job at Big Ten foe Illinois. Tamas led his Fighting Illini squad to the Sweet 16 in his first year, while Busboom Kelly made the NCAA Tournament with Louisville and was named the AVCA East Region Coach of the Year.
• Seven assistants under Cook have become head coaches following their time on Cook’s Nebraska staff: Craig Skinner (Kentucky), Lee Maes (Virginia), Lizzy Stemke (Georgia), Dan Conners (UC Davis), Dan Meske (Augustana, Associate Head Coach at Louisville), Busboom Kelly and Tamas.
• In the last eight years, five of Cook’s Husker assistants have become head coaches.
Foecke Named Senior CLASS Award Finalist
• Ten NCAA women’s volleyball student-athletes, including Nebraska senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke, were selected on Oct. 25 as finalists for the 2018 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate volleyball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
• A native of West Point, Iowa, Foecke carries a 3.649 GPA majoring in animal science and is a two-time NCAA Championship most outstanding player, making her one of only four volleyball players in NCAA history to accomplish that feat. Foecke was an AVCA second-team All-American in 2017 after leading the Huskers to their second NCAA Championship in three years. Foecke has excelled both on and off the court in her four years at Nebraska, as she is a three-time academic All-Big Ten selection and has received Nebraska’s high honors (silver) academic medallion twice.
• The Senior CLASS Award recipient will be announced during the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in December.