Yes, this is all a little bit crazy and a lot of work what Nicole Drewnick is doing — graduating from high school early and moving from Texas to Nebraska at least seven months earlier than she had planned to join the Nebraska volleyball team — but she says it’s also really good.
“It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait,” said Drewnick, who has reclassified to the 2019 recruiting class from 2020.
Drewnick plans to be done with high school classes in a few weeks and will then join the Huskers in Lincoln and be eligible for the 2019 season. So Nebraska’s freshman class — already ranked No. 2 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com — just got grew from five players to six and added a good all-around player.
Drewnick is from Dallas, is 6-foot-2 and could eventually play several different positions while at Nebraska. She’s played hitter and setter for her club team.
Drewnick may be the Huskers’ backup setter behind sophomore Nicklin Hames for 2019, but could also play other positions. Mari Kurkova, who was the backup setter last season, has decided to not be on the team in 2019, Nebraska coach John Cook told the Journal Star on Friday. Kurkova will probably finish classes at UNL this summer, and has been accepted into a graduate program in her home country of the Czech Republic.
And while Nebraska needed another setter on the roster, Drewnick coming early was something that had been discussed for more than a year, Cook said. Nebraska lost a scholarship setter the previous year when Hunter Atherton transferred after the 2017 season.
And while a player coming a full year early is unique, Drewnick is not a traditional high school student or volleyball player.
She only played high school volleyball for two years, winning two state titles. The next year she played for the Brazilian youth national team — she was born in Florida but her parents are from Brazil — for about five months. That meant that she couldn’t play high school volleyball, and she also had to switch to taking online classes.
Drewnick committed to Nebraska in April 2018. Drewnick decided not to return this summer to play for Brazil, so the conversation picked up about coming to Nebraska early.
“It’s not like she’s going to high school classes and dances and football games,” Cook said. “She was in an online program. So I said, 'Why don’t you think about graduating early?'”
So Drewnick took four classes early and took her college entrance exam. She’s finishing her last classes now and will graduate from the University of Texas High School. She plans to be in Lincoln by June 7, and would be able to go with the team when they travel to China about a week later.
Drewnick won’t turn 18 until September but feels like she’s ready. She decided in April she’d attempt to come early and has signed her letter of intent with Nebraska. Nebraska also had an open scholarship after Sami Slaughter transferred following last season.
“It was pretty last-minute, but it was definitely worth it and we managed to get it all worked out,” Drewnick said. “The sooner I get up there, the more I’m going to get used to it and get to meet the girls and practice and get my touches. Hopefully I’ll be able to make my impact on the court sooner. I just feel ready. My parents, my coaches and my teammates from here have given me the skills, and I feel more than ready to get up there.”
Cook also thinks Drewnick will be able to hold her own, having played a lot of high-level high school, club and international volleyball.
“Nicole can do a lot,” Cook said. “She can pass, hit. She’s a volleyball player. She’s a true six-rotation player. If this was basketball, she could play any position.”
Drewnick’s mother played volleyball for Brazil in the Olympics and runs a volleyball club in Texas.
This has happened before in college volleyball. In 2005, setter Rachel Holloway came to Nebraska one year early, although she ended up redshirting her first season. Last season, Logan Eggleston graduated from high school early, enrolled at Texas and became a starter.
The rest of Nebraska’s freshman class — Riley Zuhn, Fallon Stuteheit and Emma Gabel — have joined the Huskers for summer conditioning workouts. Next week, the team can begin the 10 practices they’re allowed to have before leaving for Asia on June 15.