NCAA volleyball, Stony Brook vs. Nebraska, 12/1/17

Nebraska middle blocker Allie Havers (22) gets a kill as Stony Brook middle blocker Cydney Bowman (right) attempts the block during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Devaney Sports Center. It was the first kill of Havers' career.

KAYLA WOLF, Journal Star

Allie Havers made a college living out of shooting a basketball at Nebraska.

On Friday night, the senior who decided last spring that she'd give volleyball a try after her hoops eligibility ran out, left quite a lasting memory for fans who have followed her career.

Havers, who had played in only one match entering the NCAA Tournament (at Michigan), entered late in the third set of Nebraska's opening-round sweep of Stony Brook at the Devaney Sports Center.

The ball came back to the Huskers' side of the net where senior Kelly Hunter set a perfect ball for the middle blocker. The 6-foot-5 senior then "super-thumped" a kill to the floor. The first of her collegiate career. 

The crowd erupted. Havers' teammates erupted. Senior Annika Albrecht gave her a huge hug moments later.

"Probably one of the top highlights of my athletic career," said Havers, who delivered another kill two rallies later.

That moment was one of the first things mentioned by John Cook during the postgame news conference.

"She thumped that thing, and the excitement and energy from the whole building was incredible, especially from her teammates," Cook said.

Well, just "thumped" it?

"She super-thumped it," Albrecht said. "It was awesome."

Said Havers, "Well, I didn't at the time because my adrenaline was just kind of going, but I guess I super-thumped it."

This wasn't a spur-of-the-third-set moment for Cook, either. When asked when he thought about getting Havers in the match, the NU coach said three weeks ago.

"I had a feeling that in the first round that I wanted to find an opportunity to get her in the match, because I got her in at Michigan and I saw the impact and how big a deal that was to Allie and how much it meant," Cook said. " So I've been thinking about this for quite a while. It worked out great."

Havers was a three-sport standout in high school. Entering college she chose basketball over volleyball, and finished with 720 career points. After her hoops career closed last spring, she met with Cook about joining the volleyball team.

Cougars will provide physical challenge: The Huskers will play Washington State in Saturday's 7 p.m. second-round match. Nebraska is likely to see a heavy dose of Taylor Mims, the Cougars' 6-3 outside hitter, who entered the NCAA Tournament with more than 1,000 swings, more than a third of the team's total.

Mims had 28 kills in a four-set win against Florida State on Friday.

"Mims is a really nice outside hitter and she gets a lot of sets, so you know where the ball is going," said Cook, who compared WSU's physical play to that of Michigan State.

Washington State is 18-15, and went 6-14 in the Pac-12, which features several ranked teams.

"They're used to playing great teams so they're not going to be worried about playing Nebraska," Cook said. "So we've got to expect a really tough match."

Moos watches his old school … and new school: Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos was in his seat well before the start of the Huskers’ match against Stony Brook.

That’s likely because the former Washington State AD was there to watch his former school play Florida State in the first match.

Moos looked on from his center-court seat as the Cougars won in four sets.

Washington State coach Jen Greeny, who was hired by Moos seven seasons ago, said she got a chance to talk to her former boss Friday.

“Yeah, I thought he was going to send a limo and pick us up, but that didn’t happen, so I’ll have to have some words with him about that,” Greeny quipped.

“Maybe he was singing the fight song just a little under his breath for us, maybe. Probably can’t do that tomorrow.”

Nebraska hired Moos away from Washington State in October.

“Of course we miss him a lot but very happy for him and (Nebraska) to gain a great athletic director,” Greeny said.

Cougar connection in Nebraska: Greeny is well aware of some of the history behind Oakland, a town that sits north of Fremont.

“The Swedish capital of the world,” she said following Friday’s match.

Greeny’s husband, Burdette, has some Nebraska roots. His mother was from Oakland. His father is from Sioux City, Iowa, and there are relatives in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Greeny said her husband grew up going back to Oakland each summer.

Burdette is the Cougars’ associate head volleyball coach.

Quick sets: Nebraska's 29-match home winning streak is the longest active streak in the nation. … NU improved to 72-7 in home NCAA Tournament games, including 17-2 at Devaney. … Kelly Hunter had 34 assists and passed Rachel Holloway for the fourth-most career assists by a Husker in the NCAA Tournament (499). … Said Stony Brook coach Kristin Belzung about playing against Nebraska: "I think if you are looking in the world of volleyball, to get the right experience in front of this kind of crowd, there is no place better."


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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