Husker Volleyball ranked No. 2 in preseason poll

Husker Volleyball ranked No. 2 in preseason poll

The Nebraska volleyball team is ranked No. 2 in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll released on Wednesday.

The Huskers received 20 of the 63 first-place votes. Stanford, which received 43 first-place votes, took the No. 1 ranking.

Texas, Minnesota and Kentucky round out the top five. Other Big Ten teams in the top 10 include No. 6 Penn State and No. 9 Wisconsin.

Further down the poll, Illinois is ranked No. 12, Creighton No. 13, Michigan State No. 22 and Purdue No. 23.

The defending NCAA and Big Ten champion Huskers return three starters from last year’s team, while eight of the 15 Huskers are newcomers. Nebraska will be replacing significant contributors in first-team All-America setter Kelly Hunter, second-team All-America outside hitter Annika Albrecht, honorable-mention recipient Briana Holman at middle blocker and defensive specialist Sydney Townsend.

Senior captains Mikaela Foecke, who was the NCAA Championship co-most outstanding player and an AVCA second-team All-American, and libero Kenzie Maloney, who was an NCAA Championship All-Tournament selection, will lead the Huskers into the 2018 season.

All-Big Ten Freshman Team selections Lauren Stivrins and Jazz Sweet are also key returnees in the Husker lineup.

Among the Huskers’ eight newcomers, five are true freshmen. Senior Brooke Smith, who won a national championship with the Huskers in 2015 and a Big Ten title in 2016, returned to the program for her final season after playing her junior year at Kansas State.

Sophomore Lexi Sun transferred from Texas after earning first-team All-Big 12 honors at Texas last season. Junior setter Mari Kurkova recently joined the program from Opava, Czech Republic.

The Huskers begin the season with the Red/White Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The regular season begins on Aug. 24 at the Devaney Center when Nebraska takes on No. 7 Florida in the VERT Challenge.