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HUSKER VOLLEYBALL NOTES

Husker volleyball notes: The middle blocker position could look different next year; Kubik sisters 'so excited' to team up

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Maryland vs. Nebraska, 11.12

Nebraska’s Madi Kubik (10) and Kayla Caffey attempt a block as Maryland's Rainelle Jones looks on in the first set Friday at the Devaney Sports Center.

When next season comes for the Nebraska volleyball team, the middle blocker position probably will look very different.

Three-time All-American Lauren Stivrins will not return. Seniors Kayla Caffey and Callie Schwarzenbach could leave or decide to use their extra year of eligibility.

The other middle blockers on the roster now are Kalynn Meyer (10 career appearances) and Rylee Gray (has not played).

That means incoming freshman Bekka Allick could have an opportunity to play early in her career. She’s a 6-foot-3 middle from Waverly.

Allick signed with the Huskers on Wednesday, along with Hayden Kubik (West Des Moines, Iowa) and Maisie Boesiger (Norris).

Allick will provide the Huskers needed depth at middle blocker, Nebraska coach John Cook said, and could make an early impact.

This high school season, Allick helped Waverly by moving to outside hitter, and finished with 442 kills (5.7 per set), 341 digs (4.4 per set) and 50 blocks.

Cook is impressed with Allick as both a player and person. This fall, she helped the U.S. junior national team win a bronze medal at the world championship.

“Bekka was named captain of the USA Team. Think about that,” Cook said. “Of thousands of kids that are 18 and under, 12 are selected for that team and then she’s named captain. … Maisie has been leading this Norris team forever. And Hayden has her sister for a role model. So just quality, quality people and competitors. I’m super fired up.”

Sister will join Kubik with Huskers: For at least one season, the Huskers will have sisters Madi and Hayden Kubik on the roster, and probably both at the outside hitter position.

Madi Kubik said she wanted her sister to go to the college that fit best for her, but was glad when that college ended up being Nebraska.

“I’m so excited,” Madi Kubik said. “We got to play one year together in high school, so that was really fun. We got to feed off of each other because we play the same position. So just giving each other advice and things. I’m excited for her to transition to being here.”

Back to first: No. 9 Purdue beat No. 4 Wisconsin in four sets Friday in Madison. That gave the Badgers a third league loss and means entering Saturday’s matches, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska were tied for first place in the Big Ten standings at 12-3. Purdue’s win ended Wisconsin’s streak of 30 straight home wins.

Round 2 vs. Indiana: The Huskers will play Indiana (9-18, 3-12 Big Ten) for the second time this season Sunday in Bloomington, Indiana. In the first match on Oct. 13, Nebraska swept the Hoosiers without Indiana reaching 20 points in any set.

NIL team rules: This name, image and likeness era of college sports where athletes can earn money by endorsing products, making paid appearances and hosting sports camps is something that both the athletes and coaches are navigating this season.

Some of the athletes at Nebraska who have had the most NIL opportunities are volleyball players because they’re some of Nebraska’s most successful and recognizable athletes.

In the first volleyball season since NIL began, Husker assistant coach Jaylen Reyes doesn’t think it’s been a major distraction for the team.

Many of the opportunities will come in the offseason, like camps and appearances. During the season, the athletes are busy with practices and travel, and don’t have as much time for NIL.

And the coaches have tried to keep the focus on the team when the players are together.

“I don’t typically talk to them about (NIL)," Reyes said during an appearance on the Nebraska volleyball radio show. “So for us, we have a team rule that they’re not allowed to talk about NIL stuff in Devaney. Just so when they come to practice or come to matches, that’s not an issue. It’s funny, we’ll even ask the girls questions about (NIL) and they’ll joke around and say, ‘Jaylen, no NIL conversations in Devaney.’ I could see it being a problem for some people, but speaking on our team specifically, we have no distractions with NIL stuff.”

As a college athlete himself not that long ago with BYU men’s volleyball, Reyes can understand the benefits for the players. He had a teammate who was a photographer but couldn’t sell his work.

Reyes is Nebraska’s recruiting coordinator, and he’s touting the NIL potential when he’s recruiting high school players.

The Nebraska volleyball Twitter account, where players' personal accounts are often linked, has 136,900 followers, the most of any college volleyball program, and even more than the Nebraska men’s basketball Twitter account (111,800).

“In terms of building a brand being a college volleyball player, there is no better place to come,” Reyes said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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Husker volleyball/women's basketball 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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