Lexi Sun will be a junior this season for the Nebraska volleyball team, but in some ways, she’s just getting started here.
She joined the program after playing her freshman season at Texas. After deciding to transfer, she didn’t have a spring season anywhere in 2018. Then when she got to Nebraska, her training in the summer and preseason practice was limited by a back injury.
Sun didn’t play until the ninth match of the 2018 season, and by then Nebraska was in the mode where it was playing a match, or getting ready for the next one. She still ranked second on the team in kills with 327.
Now this spring, Sun has had four weeks where she could focus on training under the guidance of coach John Cook. Sun didn’t play during the Huskers’ beach volleyball season, but has been practicing in the spring.
Sun had some great matches in helping the Huskers reach the national championship match, especially in the second half of the season, but also some shaky moments.
Now Sun has had the spring to work on taking the next step as a Husker, playing at the outside hitter position, where Nebraska graduated an All-American in Mikaela Foecke.
“I have been working a lot on my passing and defense,” Sun said. “It’s hard to narrow it down to a few things. I feel like I’ve been trying to improve on little things in every area. But those are the biggest things for me this spring season, and probably forever.”
Passing is probably one of the Huskers’ weakest areas right now, after losing Kenzie Maloney and Foecke, and having a pretty young team.
“I think it’s obviously something that I need to work on,” Sun said of passing serves. “I know that I can do it, and I feel like it’s challenging for me and something I want to work on and get better and work through.”
Cook has been pleased with how Sun has worked to improve her fundamentals. He’s curious to see if that will show up when Nebraska plays its only spring match, against Colorado State on Saturday in McCook.
Cook has liked spring practice overall. Sometimes when you get to the spring season, the players are just trying to get through it, but that’s hasn’t been the case.
But the good effort and attitude hasn’t been because of something Cook has said.
“That’s three points behind Stanford in the fifth game,” said Cook, in reference to Nebraska losing in the 2018 national championship match. “That’s what that is. Our older players are motivated.”
Road trip: Once high school is over, the road trips by bus are mostly over for the players on the Nebraska volleyball team. For some of the early-season tournaments, the team will fly on commercial flights. And then when the conference season begins, all the road trips are by charter flights.
In 2018, the only bus trip for the Huskers was to Omaha, to play Creighton.
But on Friday afternoon the team will travel by bus to McCook, about 3½ hours southwest of Lincoln.
“It’s bonding for our team because we don’t do bus rides during the year, so it’s kind of the good old days of when we used to bus to Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State,” said Lindsay Peterson, the director of operations for the volleyball program and a former Husker.
“You’re on the bus for three, four, five hours and we’re doing our stops and eating somewhere like Ole’s in Paxton. We’re watching videos. It’s a weekend that we don’t experience in the fall. The players are always kind of excited to find out where we’re going this year. It’s a guessing game.”
Worth quoting: “Everybody bugs us trying to get us to come play. (McCook) might have done it the most.” — Cook, on how the Huskers ended up playing in McCook.