LINCOLN, Nebraska — On May 1, John Cook rode a horse around the state capitol in Lincoln with the governor, promoting the Nebraska Cornhusker College Rodeo in Lincoln.
Just another day in the life of the Nebraska volleyball coach, who’s riding pretty high these days.
Cook’s ride through downtown capped off a surreal week in the world of the Huskers. In the previous seven days, Nebraska sold more than 82,900 tickets in 48 hours for its August 30 match against Nebraska-Omaha in Memorial Stadium. Then it swept Wichita State in the team’s lone exhibition match of the spring in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,096 fans in Central City.
Cook said it’s been a whirlwind, and he’s been talking to the players about an “attitude of gratitude” because of the overwhelming response from the fans.
“This week has been mind-boggling to me,” Cook said after. “This is unbelievable. Nobody’s experienced this or is going through this. No other college program is doing this. So they need to really appreciate it, embrace it and enjoy it.”
Nebraska introduced six newcomers to the lineup from a team that finished the 2022 season in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinal, including five members of the VolleyballMag.com Fab 50, led by No. 1 Harper Murray and No. 2 Bergen Reilly.
Also included among the new faces is Merritt Beason, who transferred from Florida. The junior opposite will replace Whitney Lauenstein, who retired from volleyball after last season.
All five members of the Huskers’ top-ranked recruiting class enrolled in January and immediately changed team dynamics. Beason said it helps that they are a young team with no seniors.
“The freshmen are a fun group, but they’re also very dedicated and you couldn’t even tell that they were freshmen,” she said. “The upperclassmen and those that have been here longer have welcomed us really, really easily, and they made that transition easy for all of us. We just felt welcomed, which I thought allowed our team chemistry to build from the ground up and it’s been really cool so far.”
Nebraska began its beach season a few weeks into the semester and amassed its most successful campaign in its 10 years of play. The Huskers went 15-5 with wins over Texas, which like NU, has indoor players pulling double duty, and a beach-only squad from Oregon. The Huskers also went 13-1 against non-Division I opponents.
Once Nebraska transitioned to indoor practice, Cook said he…
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