Just like playing sand volleyball, coaching the sport is a lot more like a relaxed day at the beach.

In sand volleyball, coaches are supposed to only speak to players and give them instruction during timeouts and between sets.

That’s much different from indoor volleyball, when Nebraska coach John Cook tells servers what area of the court to serve to and assistant coach Dan Meske lines up the blockers.

Cook says he’s just fine with his reduced role in sand volleyball. And he’s still very much needed to help the team navigate Los Angeles traffic as the Huskers wrap up their 10-day spring break trip to California for the sand season.

“It’s actually kind of nice,” Cook said Thursday in a phone interview. “I think we ought to adopt (the coaching restrictions) for indoor.

“You sit back and watch more, and the great thing about this is the girls have to figure it out. And there are only two of them (playing), so they really have to figure out what they’re doing and work together. It’s a great learning opportunity, because they don’t get a lot of coaching.”

During breaks, Cook will draw in the sand what the players should do.

“I’ll draw strategies, where we want to serve, what shots to defend, where they’re hitting,” Cook said. “A lot of teams are charting the hitters. We don’t want to overwhelm them, so we’re reminding them where the wind is so they can make adjustments and try to give them a feel for what the other team is trying to do.”

The Huskers picked up their biggest win Thursday with a 3-2 victory against UCLA in Santa Monica, Calif. The new sand rankings came out Thursday, and UCLA was ranked No. 7. Nebraska is still ranked ninth and has a 4-3 record.

The dual came down to the final two matches, at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, with Nebraska needing to win one of them.

Nebraska’s No. 1 duo of Kelsey Robinson and Alexa Strange clinched the win by beating Meg Norton and Kelly Reeves 21-15, 21-16.

“I think it was a huge win, in that (UCLA) is a program that started the same time we did basically and we played on their home court,” Cook said. “It was really our first match on the true beach because we’ve been playing in facilities that are inland. This was our first true beach match where there was an ocean 40 yards away. I thought we could have had a really good shot to win all of the matches. To win three of our five against UCLA is a pretty good day for the Huskers.”

NU's other wins came at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, and both were three-set victories.

Morgan Broekhuis and Kadie Rolfzen won the No. 3 match against Bojana Todorovic and Megan Moenoa 21-13, 19-21, 15-7.

Alicia Ostrander and Kelsey Fien won a tight three-set match against Karly Drolson and Karsta Lowe 21-19, 21-23, 15-13.

Nebraska will finish its regular season with two matches Friday, against No. 5 Hawaii at 1 p.m. and No. 4 USC at 3 p.m.

All matches are schedule to be streamed live on the Internet at http://pac-12.com/live/usctrojans.aspx


College women


No. 1: Kelsey Robinson/Alexa Strange, NU def. Meg Norton/Kelly Reeves 21-15, 21-16.

No. 2: Zoë Nightingale/Becca Strehlow, UCLA def. Hayley Thramer/Amber Rolfzen 21-17, 21-19.

No. 3: Morgan Broekhuis/Kadie Rolfzen, NU def. Bojana Todorovic/Megan Moenoa 21-13, 19-21, 15-7.

No. 4: Alicia Ostrander/Kelsey Fien, NU def. Karly Drolson/Karsta Lowe 21-19, 21-23, 15-13.

No. 5: Rachel Inouye/Maddy Klineman, UCLA def. Sheridan Zarda/Meghan Haggerty 21-19, 21-19.

Reach Brent C. Wagner at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com.