Huskers Meet Baylor in Regional Semifinals
• After a second-round sweep over Texas State to open the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, the fifth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team faces 12th-seeded Baylor in an NCAA regional semifinal on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the CHI Health Center Omaha Convention Center. The Huskers and Bears will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on WatchESPN.com.
• Husker Sports Network will broadcast all the Husker action 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 the Huskers app. John Baylor is in his 27th 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.
Nebraska's NCAA Tournament Notes
• Thursday's match was the Huskers' 150th NCAA Tournament match. Nebraska and Stanford (162) are the only programs in NCAA history to play 150 NCAA Tournament matches.
• Nebraska is makings its 36th appearance in an NCAA Regional, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers are in an NCAA Regional and for the ninth consecutive season, the 26th time in the past 27 seasons and the 20th time in John Cook's 21 seasons.
• Nebraska is 117-33 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers rank second in NCAA history in postseason wins and winning percentage (.780).
• Nebraska is 29-6 all-time in NCAA Regional Semifinal matches. The Huskers have won eight straight regional semifinal matches.
• Against Baylor, the Huskers will be looking to make their 30th NCAA Regional Final and ninth straight. Nebraska and Stanford are tied for the most NCAA Regional Final appearances in NCAA history (29).
• Nebraska has won 86 consecutive NCAA Tournament matches when taking a 2-0 lead in sets. The Huskers are 88-1 all-time in the postseason when winning the first two sets.
• John Cook is 84-21 in his NCAA Tournament career, including a 76-16 record as Nebraska's head coach. Cook ranks third in NCAA history in postseason victories in a career and at one school.
• Nebraska hit a season-high .398 in Thursday's win over Texas State. The Huskers have now hit above .350 in four of their last five matches.
• Nebraska's two starting middle blockers Lauren Stivrins and Kayla Caffey combined to hit .615 against Texas State on Thursday. The duo recorded 19 kills on only 26 swings.
• Lauren Stivrins is hitting .398 in her NCAA Tournament career (151 kills, 36 errors, 289 attacks). Her .398 career postseason hitting percentage is the highest in Nebraska history.
• Following her performance on Thursday, Lauren Stivrins is hitting .476 this season. The Nebraska record for season hitting percentage is .473 by All-America middle blocker Tracy Stalls in 2007.
• Lauren Stivrins is now hitting .386 in her career (1,068 kills, 275 errors, 2,055 attacks). Her .386 career hitting percentage is the highest ever by a Husker in the rally scoring era (since 2001).
• The Nebraska-Baylor winner will move on to play the winner of fourth-seeded Texas and 13th-seeded Penn State in the regional final, which will be played on Monday, April 19 in the CHI Health Center main arena.
• All six Big Ten teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament advanced to the regional round. Big Ten teams are 6-0 in the tournament and have not lost a set.
• The three teams in the country who have made the most consecutive NCAA Regional appearances are all in the same region. Penn State owns the nation's longest streak with 18 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances, Texas boasts the second-longest streak (15) and the Huskers have the third-longest streak (9).
• The 16 teams still alive in the NCAA Tournament have combined to win 15 national championships. Fourteen of those come from teams in Nebraska's regional, as Penn State has won seven national championships, Nebraska is a five-time national champion and Texas has won the national title twice.
About the Huskers
• Senior outside hitter Lexi Sun leads the Huskers with 3.75 kills per set with 19 service aces as well as 2.17 digs per set. She ranked fifth in the Big Ten in kills per set and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection. Sun was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on March 8 after averaging 5.17 kills per set on .315 hitting in the two wins at Illinois. Sun earned the conference player of the week honor again on March 22 after 4.33 kills per set on .408 hitting in two sweeps over Iowa.
• Senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins is putting up 3.29 kills per set on a team-high .476 hitting percentage, which led all Big Ten players this season and ranked fourth in the nation. She was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team.
• Junior setter Nicklin Hames paces the Husker attack with 11.10 assists per set - most in the Big Ten - and she chips in 2.85 digs per set with 12 service aces. Along with Sun and Stivrins, Hames was a repeat All-Big Ten First-Team selection.
• Sophomore outside hitter Madi Kubik adds 2.78 kills per set and 2.46 digs per set.
• Junior transfer middle blocker Kayla Caffey has stepped in for the Huskers and contributed 2.02 kills per set on .384 hitting with 1.08 blocks per set.
• The Huskers led the Big Ten in defense last season and has picked up where they left off this season, holding opponents to .159 hitting to rank second in the conference behind only Wisconsin.
• Nebraska's .279 team hitting --percentage also ranks second in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin.
• At 20-6 overall, Baylor earned the No. 12 national seed, its second year in a row with a top-16 national seed. The Bears were the No. 1 overall seed in 2019 but fell in the NCAA Semifinals to fourth-seeded Wisconsin.
• Shanel Bramschreiber was named the Big 12 Libero of the Year, Baylor's first such award in program history. In her first season as the Bears' libero, Bramschreiber led the conference with 357 digs and ranked sixth in the league with 3.72 digs per set.
• Baylor earned four All-Big 12 First-Team spots. In addition to Bramschreiber, sophomore outside hitter Lauren Harrison was a unanimous selection after tallying 280 kills (3.20 per set). Sophomore middle blocker Kara McGhee earned a spot on the first team after collecting 118 blocks, the second-most in the Big 12. And senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley was a unanimous first-team choice for the fourth time in her career. She led the Big 12 with 447 kills, 4.66 kills per set and 488 total points.
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Baylor, 31-0. All 31 matches came between 1995-2010, as the teams were both members of the Big 12 Conference.
• Of NU's 31 wins, 26 have been sweeps. The other five matches were four-set Husker wins. The Huskers have won four matches in a row by sweep over the Bears.
• This will be the first meeting between the teams in an NCAA Tournament.
• John Cook: 21st year at Nebraska (603-83); 28th year overall (764-156)
• Ryan McGuyre: 6th year at Baylor (132-49); 19th year overall (468-183)
Huskers Ranked No. 4 in AVCA Coaches Poll
• Nebraska is ranked No. 4 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week.
• The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 in 100 all-time polls, the most in NCAA history.
• The Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 a total of 514 times, which is also the most in NCAA history.
• Nebraska has appeared in all 570 AVCA Coaches Polls it has been eligible for since it was established in 1982. With Stanford dropping out of the poll this year, Nebraska is the only program to be ranked in every eligible poll all-time.
Huskers Garner Postseason Accolades
• Nebraska volleyball seniors Lauren Stivrins and Lexi Sun and junior Nicklin Hames were voted to the All-Big Ten First Team and the AVCA All-North Region Team. Sophomore outside hitter Madi Kubik was an AVCA All-North Region selection as well, giving the Huskers the same four AVCA All-Region honorees they had in 2019.
• Stivrins is a two-time AVCA All-American and a three-time All-Big Ten First-Team selection. She posted 3.23 kills per set, 1.09 blocks per set and a team-best .468 hitting percentage during the regular season. Stivrins' hitting percentage was the best in the Big Ten and ranked No. 4 in the nation. The middle blocker from Scottsdale, Ariz., had double-digit kills in 10 of 16 matches and hit .400 or better in 13 of 16 matches. Stivrins holds a career hitting percentage of .384, which is fourth-best average in school history and the No. 1 mark in the rally scoring era, which began in 2001. She led the Huskers to a .272 season hitting average and .157 opponent hitting percentage, both of which ranked second in the conference. Stivrins was a unanimous selection for the third year in a row.
• Sun earned All-Big Ten First-Team honors for the second straight year last week after leading the Huskers in kills with 3.82 per set. She also added 2.13 digs per set with 39 blocks and 19 aces on the season and recorded five double-doubles. Sun, who hit .247 for the season, was a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week during the 11-week regular season. An AVCA third-team All-American in 2019, Sun reached double-digit kills in 14 of 16 regular-season matches. She ranked fifth among all Big Ten Players in kills per set and was a unanimous choice to the All-Big Ten First Team. In addition to AVCA All-North Region honors in 2019, Sun was an AVCA All-Southwest Region selection while at Texas in 2017.
• Hames also garnered AVCA All-North Region and All-Big Ten First-Team accolades for the second straight season. The junior setter led the Big Ten in assists at 10.93 per set and ranked 17th nationally. The Maryville, Tenn., native posted eight double-doubles in 16 matches, and she served 12 aces. Hames set the Huskers to a .272 regular-season hitting percentage, the second-best mark in the Big Ten.
• Kubik, a sophomore, made the AVCA All-North Region for the second time in as many seasons. She was the AVCA North Region Freshman of the Year in 2019, and this year she put up 2.70 kills and 2.52 digs per set with 19 blocks and 12 aces. A six-rotation hitter for the Big Red, Kubik posted double-doubles in six matches and had nine matches with at least 10 kills.
• Senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins surpassed 1,000 career kills this season on March 12 against Ohio State and now has 1,068. Stivrins became the 22nd Husker in school history to reach 1,000 career kills at Nebraska and the eighth player to do so in the rally-scoring era (2001-present).
• Stivrins has also established herself as one of the most efficient hitters in Nebraska volleyball history. She has a .386 career hitting percentage, which ranks fourth all-time in school history and first since the rally scoring era began in 2001.
• Lexi Sun also owns more than 1,000 career kills with 1,310 (337 as a freshman at Texas in 2017). Jazz Sweet is closing in with 958 career kills.
• Junior setter Nicklin Hames surpassed 3,000 career assists this season and now has 3,345. She became the 10th Husker setter in school history to reach 3,000 career assists at Nebraska and the fourth in the rally scoring era (2001-present), joining Kelly Hunter (4,125), Sydney Anderson (3,332) and Lauren Cook (3,198).
AVCA Hall of Fame Head Coach John Cook in 21st Season at Nebraska
• Nebraska head coach John Cook is in his 21st season as the Nebraska volleyball head coach in 2020-21. He has led the Huskers to four national championships, nine final fours, 12 conference championships and 18 top-10 final rankings since 2000.
• Cook has 764 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 .879 win percentage in that time (603-83).
• 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 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 ninth active Division I head coach to reach 700 career wins in 2018.
Hildebrand Returns to Huskers After 2017 NCAA Championship Season
• Former Nebraska volleyball assistant coach Tyler Hildebrand returned to the Huskers as an associate head coach in January 2020. Hildebrand, who helped coach the Huskers to an NCAA Championship in his only season at Nebraska in 2017, replaced Kayla Banwarth, who accepted the head coach position at Ole Miss in December.
• After the 2017 season, Hildebrand served as the Director of Coaching for the USA Volleyball Beach National Team Program.
• Hildebrand is the first associate head coach in Cook's tenure (2000-present). He had a remarkable season at Nebraska in 2017, helping the Huskers win the NCAA title while coaching Hunter to first-team AVCA All-America honors and outside hitters Annika Albrecht and Mikaela Foecke to second-team All-America honors. Nebraska led all Big Ten teams in opponent hitting percentage (.154) as he coordinated the Huskers' defense and game plans. His wife, former U.S. National Team captain Kristin Hildebrand, was a volunteer for the Huskers in 2017, but will not be this time around as she runs her own interior design business.
• "The 2017 season was one of my most enjoyable seasons as a head coach with Tyler and Kayla," Nebraska Head Coach John Cook said. "Obviously we had great results, but Tyler made me a better coach that year. I think he has a gift for coaching in how he sees the game. He has a very positive way of challenging people, including me. That's why I reached out to him. Part of my job as head coach is to provide the best staff possible for our team. I really feel like hiring Tyler and having him join our staff gives us the best chance to be successful."