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Oregon vs. Nebraska, 12.8.12

Nebraska libero Lara Dykstra (1) can't make the dig against Oregon in the third set of their Omaha Regional final volleyball match at CenturyLink Center Omaha on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

Sophomore libero Lara Dykstra has left the Nebraska volleyball program, coach John Cook said Wednesday.

Dykstra has been the starter the past two seasons.

Already needing to replace setter Lauren Cook and outside hitters Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth for next season, the Huskers unexpectedly now will have to replace another veteran player.

“We just literally graduated all of our passers for the last two years,” John Cook said. “We’re hopefully going to be reloading for next year; not rebuilding.”

The coach said Dykstra informed him of her decision to leave Tuesday. John Cook said Dykstra wants to be closer to her home in Redondo Beach, Calif. Also, she wants to play for a school that has a beach volleyball program, instead of playing indoor volleyball.

About 15 NCAA Division I schools -- most of which are in Florida and California -- sponsor varsity sand volleyball. More schools are expected to add the sport in the future.

As a youth, Dykstra was one of the top beach players in the country. Her brother, Joey, is a pro beach player.

“Lara Dykstra informed me this week that she has lost her passion to play indoor volleyball and is moving to back to California to be closer to her family and play collegiate beach volleyball," John Cook said. "Lara started every match for us over the last two years and did a great job. She will be missed and we wish her the best.”

Dykstra was second for the Huskers in digs this season with 371.

Dykstra was the only sophomore on the team this season. From her recruiting class, Nebraska also lost Taylor Simpson and Shelby Winkelmann. Winkelmann left Nebraska to play college basketball, and Simpson has bounced around among four college programs in 1½ years.

Also part of the five-player class was middle blocker Cecilia Hall and outside hitter Alicia Ostrander, who were redshirt freshmen this season.

Sheridan Zarda, a freshman walk-on from Lenexa, Kan., likely will be the libero for the spring exhibition season.

This summer, Justine Wong-Orantes is expected to join the team, and could play libero. She’s also an accomplished beach volleyball player from California.

Reach Brent C. Wagner at 402-473-7435 or


Sports reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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