Nebraska co-captains Lauren Stivrins and Nicklin Hames huddle with their team.
Co-captains Lauren Stivrins and Nicklin Hames huddle up with their team to celebrate a block by Hames.

The Nebraska volleyball team is set to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament for the 16th consecutive year on Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7, at The Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.

Northern Iowa takes on Missouri at 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Nebraska vs Ball State at 7 p.m. The winners meet Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Cook acknowledged the quality competition in Nebraska’s section of the tournament. “This is gonna be a really competitive first and second round here at Nebraska,” Cook said. “All three teams and then us have all had really good seasons.”

The University of Northern Iowa comes into its matchup against Missouri with a 24-10 regular season record; the Tigers have a 21-7 regular season record.

Meanwhile, the Huskers are 25-4 on the season and set to face off against the Ball State Cardinals who come to Lincoln with a 20-11 record.

Cook said they’ve faced an uphill battle to reach this point. The team has had to deal with the departure of Capri Davis from the team and the sudden death of graduate student manager Dane Leclair.

“I think adversity helps build strength and pulls a team together. So, I think now it’s a real strength for us for what we’ve gone through,” Cook said.

Hames, who received First-Team All-Big Ten honors earlier on Thursday, said Ball State is just a little different than other teams they’ve seen.

“They do a lot of funky stuff,” Hames said. “They have a lot of different hitters and run a bunch of different patterns, so we’re going to have to be super disciplined on our blocks and defense and just be prepared for them.”

Stivrins said the team’s approach has been good.

“I think we’ve been doing a good job of being mindful when we train and not taking rep[etition]s off,” Stivrins said. “Hopefully, we can go out here this weekend and take care of business and prove to everybody what we’ve been working on.”

Cook echoed that sentiment, albeit in a much more lighthearted fashion.

“We’re psyched up,” Cook finished. “It’s time to party.”

The entire press conference with Coach John Cook, Nicklin Hames and Lauren Strivins can viewed below:

Zach Markon is in his final year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Journalism. He is pursuing double majors of both Broadcast Production as well as Sports Media & Communication. Following graduation, he is looking to start his career at a university, producing digital content for an athletic department.