Huskers Finish Regular Season at Wisconsin, Minnesota


Photo Credit: NU Athletic Communications Photo Credit: NU Athletic Communications

MATCH PREVIEW
• The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team will look to finish out the regular season strong this weekend with road matches at No. 5 Wisconsin and at Minnesota. 
• The Huskers, who clinched the outright Big Ten title on Sunday in a 3-0 win at Iowa, will face the fifth-ranked Badgers on Friday at 3 p.m. at UW Field House in Madison, Wis. The match will be televised on Big Ten Network and streamed on Fox Sports. 
• Nebraska will then close out the regular season at Minnesota on Saturday at 8 p.m., also on Big Ten Network and FoxSports.   
• The Huskers Radio Network will broadcast all the action on their radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and 105.9 FM (Friday) and AM 590 (Saturday) in Omaha. A live audio stream will be provided at Huskers.com and on the Huskers app. 
• John Baylor is in his 30th season doing play-by-play for the Husker volleyball program. Lauren (Cook) West, a former All-American setter for the Huskers, will provide color commentary.

ABOUT THE HUSKERS
• Nebraska (27-0, 18-0 Big Ten) is off to its best start to a season since beginning the 2005 season with a 28-0 record. Beyond that, the 2000 NCAA Championship team went 34-0 and is the only undefeated team in school history. 
• The Huskers’ 18-0 start to Big Ten play is a program best since joining the conference in 2011. Since 1996 - when Nebraska began a 20-match league schedule in the Big 12 - the Huskers have gone undefeated in conference play four times, but never in the Big Ten. The last time was 2004 in the Big 12. 
• Nebraska clinched the outright Big Ten title in last Sunday’s 3-0 win at Iowa. With two matches remaining this week, the Huskers have a three-game lead in the conference standings. 
• Nebraska has now won four Big Ten titles since joining the conference in 2011. The years were 2011 (17-3), 2016 (18-2), 2017 (19-1, co-champions) and 2023. 
• All-time, Nebraska volleyball has won 35 conference titles. John Cook has been head coach for 13 of them.
• The Huskers, who led the nation in defense in 2022, have held their opponents this season to a combined .131 hitting percentage, which leads the nation. 
• Nebraska has been sharp offensively this season, hitting .286 to rank 11th nationally and second in the Big Ten. The Huskers lead all Big Ten teams and rank 12th nationally with 14.08 kills per set. 
• Two-time All-American and All-Big Ten libero Lexi Rodriguez paces the Husker defense with 3.67 digs per set. Rodriguez has twice been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week this year.  
• Junior opposite hitter Merritt Beason, a Florida transfer, contributes a team-leading 3.76 kills per set and adds 2.06 digs per set with 26 service aces. Beason is a four-time Big Ten Player of the Week this season and was the AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 24 following 21 kills in a 3-2 win over No. 1 Wisconsin. 
• Freshman outside hitter Harper Murray is averaging 3.24 kills per set and 1.99 digs per set with a team-high 27 service aces. Murray has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times this season. 
• Junior outside hitter Lindsay Krause adds 2.50 kills per set and has a .366 hitting percentage since the Sept. 29 win at Purdue, though she has not played since Oct. 14 because of an injury. 
• Sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick leads the Huskers at the net with 1.32 blocks per set to go with 1.84 kills per set. 
• Freshman middle blocker Andi Jackson is off to a strong start as a Husker, averaging 2.20 kills per set on a team-high .429 hitting percentage, which ranks second among Big Ten players and 10th nationally. Jackson is also contributing 1.10 blocks per set. Jackson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Nov. 13 after averaging 2.13 kills per set and 1.13 blocks per set with a blistering .714 hitting percentage in Nebraska’s 3-1 wins over Northwestern and Illinois. 
• Freshman setter Bergen Reilly is putting up 10.72 assists and 2.54 digs per set. Reilly, who leads all Big Ten players in assists per set and ranks 16th in the nation, became just the second true freshman setter to be a day one starter under John Cook (Nicklin Hames). Reilly has been named Big Ten Setter of the Week four times this year and Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice.
• Nebraska went 17-0 in home matches in the regular season. The last time the Huskers went undefeated at home in the regular season was 2017 (15-0). 
• From Sept. 12-Sept. 29, Nebraska played five straight ranked teams and won all five matches. It was the sixth time in school history Nebraska played five matches in a row against ranked teams but the first time NU won all five. 
• The Huskers went undefeated in non-conference play for the first time since 2016 and just the second time since 2008.

SCOUTING REPORT: WISCONSIN
• Wisconsin (24-3, 15-3 Big Ten) has two of its last three matches, at Penn State (3-1) and at Purdue (3-2). Junior middle blocker Anna Smrek (2.53 kills per set) did not play in either of those losses, however. Smrek returned to the lineup in a 3-0 win at Indiana on Sunday. 
• Wisconsin ranks second nationally in hitting percentage (.308) and fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.145). 
• Sarah Franklin leads the Badgers with 4.12 kills per set, while Devyn Robinson adds 2.65 kills per set. 
• Carter Booth ranks first in the Big Ten and second nationally in blocks per set at 1.57. Booth leads all Big Ten players and ranks third in the nation with a .445 hitting percentage. 

SCOUTING REPORT: MINNESOTA
• Minnesota (15-11, 11-7 Big Ten) has won three matches in a row entering a Friday night home match against Illinois. 
• Mckenna Wucherer leads the Golden Gophers with 3.20 kills per set. Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Taylor Landfair adds 3.13 kills per set. 
• Minnesota has a .227 team hitting percentage and an opponent hitting percentage of .186. Libero Kylie Murr leads the Gopher defense with 4.06 digs per set.  

SERIES HISTORY
• Nebraska is 20-13-1 all-time against Wisconsin after snapping a 10-match skid to the Badgers on Oct. 21 in Lincoln. In that five-set thriller between No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 2 Nebraska, the Huskers won the opening set 25-22 before dropping the next two sets, 17-25 and 20-25. The Huskers rebounded to win set four, 26-24, and finished off the victory in set five, 15-13. Nebraska’s last win at the UW Field House was Nov. 8, 2013. The Huskers have lost seven straight times in Madison. 
• Nebraska is 37-12 all-time against Minnesota after sweeping the Golden Gophers in Lincoln on Sept. 24. Minnesota has won five of the last eight times the teams have played. NU’s last victory at Maturi Pavilion was Nov. 22, 2019. 

HUSKERS RANKED NO. 1 IN AVCA COACHES POLL
• Nebraska is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week.
• Nebraska has been ranked No. 1 in 107 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history. 
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 556 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 617 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.
• Nebraska’s 617 consecutive weeks of being ranked is the longest active streak in Division I for any sport, leading Connecticut women’s basketball and North Carolina women’s soccer.

AVCA HALL OF FAMER JOHN COOK IN 24TH SEASON AT NEBRASKA
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 24th season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2023. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, 10 final fours, 13 conference championships and 21 top-10 final rankings since 2000. 
• Cook has 844 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 .875 win percentage (683-98). 
• Under Cook, the Huskers have achieved 64 AVCA All-Americans and 20 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 two 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. 

HUSKER VOLLEYBALL SETS ATTENDANCE RECORDS
• It was a record-breaking night at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 30 when Nebraska hosted Omaha in an outdoor volleyball match. The attendance of 92,003 set a record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s sporting event in the United States. The crowd of more than 92,000 also surpassed what is widely regarded as the world-record attendance for any women’s sporting event.
• The previously recognized world record was 91,648 fans in an UEFA Champions League match between Barcelona and Wolfsburg on April 22, 2022, at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. The previous record for an American women’s sporting event was 90,185 in USA’s FIFA World Cup Final against China on July 10, 1999, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
• Along with the two records mentioned above, the Huskers shattered a pair of NCAA records, exceeding the previous records for any NCAA volleyball match and an NCAA volleyball regular-season match. 
• Entering the match, the largest-ever crowd for any NCAA volleyball match was 18,755 when Nebraska played Wisconsin in the NCAA Final at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 18, 2021. The largest NCAA volleyball regular-season attendance was 16,833 when Wisconsin hosted Florida at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., on Sept 16, 2022.
• The Husker volleyball program has sold out 319 consecutive regular-season matches. 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.
• Nine of the top 11 crowds in NCAA volleyball history are matches that have involved the Huskers. 
• Of the 16 largest NCAA volleyball regular-season crowds, 14 have been Nebraska matches.
• On Oct. 21, Nebraska broke its Devaney Center attendance record since the arena was reconfigured for volleyball in 2013. A crowd of 9,198 turned out to see a five-set thriller between undefeated No. 1 Wisconsin and undefeated No. 2 Nebraska. Over the summer, 402 seats were added to the Devaney Center, increasing the seating capacity to 8,309. 

2022 SEASON RECAP
• Nebraska is coming off a 26-6 (16-4 Big Ten) season and second-place finish in the Big Ten. The Huskers advanced to an NCAA regional semifinal, where they lost to Oregon in five sets. NU ended the year at No. 9 in the AVCA Coaches Poll, its 11th straight year finishing in the top 10 of the AVCA poll. 
• Nebraska had a nation-leading opponent hitting percentage of .128 in 2022. Junior libero and co-captain Lexi Rodriguez is back to lead the Huskers defensively once again. Rodriguez is a two-time AVCA All-American and All-Big Ten selection. 
• Sophomore middle blocker Bekka Allick was named to the AVCA All-Region Team in 2022 after finishing her first season as a Husker with 1.89 kills per set, 1.01 blocks per set and a team-high .326 hitting percentage. Allick was an All-Big Ten Second Team and a unanimous All-Big Ten Freshman Team member. 
• Junior opposite hitter Merritt Beason was an All-SEC and AVCA All-Region selection as a sophomore at Florida in 2022 before transferring to Nebraska and being named a team captain for the 2023 season. In her sophomore season at Florida, Beason helped the Gators win a share of the SEC Championship by averaging 3.35 kills per set with a .261 hitting percentage.
• Junior outside hitter Lindsay Krause averaged 2.25 kills per set with a .269 hitting percentage and totaled 44 blocks and 45 digs last season. Over the final 12 matches of the season, Krause averaged 2.72 kills per set with a .359 hitting percentage. 
• Ally Batenhorst posted 2.33 kills per set to go with 1.06 digs per set in 2022. The junior outside hitter was named to the Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team after 15 kills and 12 digs against No. 9 Oregon in the NCAA regional semifinal.