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'The expectations will be very high': Nebraska volleyball program signs No. 1-ranked recruiting class
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'The expectations will be very high': Nebraska volleyball program signs No. 1-ranked recruiting class

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The Nebraska volleyball program has signed a recruiting class of six players that is ranked as the No. 1 class in the nation.

And with the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 recruits in the national rankings, the class is considered one of the best recruiting classes regardless of sport. Nebraska landed the No. 1 player in the class at outside hitter, setter and libero.

The players each signed her national letter of intent on Wednesday.

Kennedi Orr, a setter from Eagan, Minnesota, is ranked No. 1; Omaha Skutt outside hitter Lindsay Krause is No. 2; outside hitter Ally Batenhorst from Houston is No. 3.

But the top-100 recruits in the class don’t stop there; Nebraska had five of the top-20 recruits overall. Lexi Rodriguez, a libero from Sterling, Illinois, is No. 10; outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein from Waverly is No. 16; and Rylee Gray from Elkhorn South is No. 70.

The program announced the class Wednesday afternoon.

“Because of their accomplishments on the national and world stage, the expectations will be very high, but that is why you go to Nebraska,” said coach John Cook in a news release.

Krause and Gray each helped her team win a state championship last week. And Lauenstein had 22 kills and 22 digs during a state tournament match.

“The state of Nebraska produces some of the best volleyball talent in the country,” Cook said. “We are committed to keeping the top kids here to play at home.”

Most of the group has known each other for several years from playing on the United States youth national team together, attending Nebraska volleyball camps and their official recruiting trip to Lincoln last fall.

Three of the commitments came within two months of attending Nebraska’s Dream Team Camp in 2017.

“The three days of camp were awesome,” Cook said. “Bonds were formed, and intensity was high. We had a blast coaching the kids at the camp. We have enjoyed watching their development over the last three years.”

Orr, Batenhorst and Rodriguez are each expected to graduate from high school early and join the team in January. They’ll be able to practice with the Huskers but can’t play in matches during the season, which was postponed until January due to the pandemic.

Nebraska fans will enjoy following the journey of one Nebraska’s largest ever recruiting classes, Cook said.

“They are talented, passionate and driven to excel on and off the court,” he said.

Creighton also signed a top-five recruiting class Wednesday. The top five teams in the recruiting class rankings are Nebraska, Stanford, Kentucky, Penn State and Creighton.

Here is a closer look at the new Huskers:

Kennedi Orr, 6-feet, Eagan, Minnesota

Of note: From a young age, Orr’s setting quickly gained the attention of club and college coaches from across the country. In Minnesota, students can play high school sports beginning in the seventh grade. Orr has been a starting setter at Eagan since the seventh grade and has helped the team win four state championships. Playing for the youth national teams, she’s earned the best setter award at several tournaments.

Cook says: “Kennedi comes in as the best leader/setter in the country as well as the No. 1 overall recruit in the country according to … Kennedi will have an impact on this program as a leader from day one both on and off the court.”

Lindsay Krause, OH, 6-4, Omaha Skutt

Of note: She had a .475 hitting percentage this season and won her fourth state championship. Krause was a member of the United States youth national team that won a world championship in 2019.

Cook says: “She also brings in some international experience as she was a part of the USA youth national team in 2018 and 2019. We expect Lindsay to come in and compete for playing time at outside hitter from day one.”

Ally Batenhorst, OH, 6-4, Houston (Seven Lakes)

Of note: She earned first-team high school All-American honors this season. As a senior she’s hitting .366 and averaging 6.5 kills per set, which are both on pace for career-best totals.  Her dad, Kurt, is from Wisner; her mom, Susan, is from Omaha.

Cook says: “Nebraska-born, Texas-built Ally Batenhorst is another huge part of this recruiting class. Having the ability to play all across the front and back row makes her very multidimensional. We expect Ally to come in and compete for playing time at outside hitter from day one.”

Lexi Rodriguez, L, 5-5, Sterling, Illinois

Of note: She was the Illinois Gatorade player of the year in 2019 and won two state championships.

Cook says: “Lexi played club for the powerhouse Sports Performance Club. Her teams were national finalists four times and they won the gold medal three times.”

Whitney Lauenstein, OH, 6-2, Waverly

Of note: She dominated in Class B for Waverly, finishing this season with 482 kills, 24 blocks, 30 ace serves and 330 digs. She’s the No. 2 recruit in the state.

Cook says: “Whitney has been a fast riser in the recruiting rankings in the past year and a half. Three years ago, she came to Husker Camp and she was a middle blocker. After that camp, she switched positions and her stock has skyrocketed. A long, physical outside hitter with a live arm, Whitney became one of the most intensely recruited players in the class of 2021 following her sophomore year.”

Rylee Gray, MB, 6-4, Elkhorn South

Of note: She helped Elkhorn South win its first state championship in volleyball last week, and led Class A in hitting percentage (.442). She finished her career with 476 blocks.

Cook says: “Rylee Gray comes in as one of the best middle blockers in the country. She has the innate ability to be a shutdown blocker. Rylee is another in a long line of Husker recruits who were multi-sport athletes in high school, as she is a star on the Elkhorn South basketball team. She plays with an endless motor and has been getting better each year.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or 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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