Three Nebraska volleyball players have decided to leave the program, coach John Cook confirmed during an interview Tuesday.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Kira Larson, freshman outside hitter Maddie Haggerty and sophomore serving specialist Alexa Ethridge each intends to transfer.
Larson and Ethridge each had reserve roles last season, while Haggerty redshirted. Cook said Larson and Ethridge are each looking for more playing time, while Haggerty wants a fresh start after dealing with injuries at the end of her high school career that carried over to her one season at Nebraska.
Larson and Ethridge were each part of the sand volleyball team's recent trip to Hawaii and Arizona. The day after returning, they requested to meet with Cook.
“They all want to play, and they know their opportunities to play are going to be limited based on who we have here, and who is coming in,” Cook said. “They’ve all done great, but they didn’t want to go through spring.”
Cook said each of the players will get a full scholarship release and be eligible to play at a new school this season. If the players transfer to a Big Ten Conference school, they’ll face a one-year penalty from the conference.
Several programs have already shown interest in each of the players.
“Alexa Ethridge has a limited role here, and she could probably go and be a libero at some different program,” Cook said. “Kira has worked really hard, she’s just a little bit undersized middle for the Big Ten. I was actually going to move her to (right-side hitter) this spring, and try her on the right. She wants to play. She’s been here two years and worked really hard.”
Haggerty's older sister, Meghan, will be a senior for the Huskers this season. Their younger sister, Molly, is one of the top prep players in the country, and remains committed to the Huskers for the 2016 class.
After adding LSU transfer Briana Holman, who joined the program in January, NU should now be at the 12-player scholarship limit for this season. Ethridge was a walk-on.
Holman makes U.S. team
Holman is one of 12 players selected to the U.S. Collegiate National Team that will play in the World University Games in July in Gwangju, South Korea.
It is the second career selection to the U.S. Collegiate National Team for Holman. The middle blocker from DeSoto, Texas, was part of the USA team that participated in the Tour of China in 2014. The World University Games happens every four years as a prelude to the Olympics the following summer.
Holman will train with Nebraska this spring, but has not received a scholarship release from LSU and is not eligible to play for the Huskers in the fall.
Cook encouraged by sand season
Nebraska closed its sand volleyball season last week, finishing with a 6-2 record, the best record in the three years of the program. The Huskers are ranked No. 11 in the country.
Cook was most impressed by the duo of junior Cecilia Hall and freshman Annika Albrecht. The duo had an 8-3 record.
“In sand you try to match up where you have a big blocker, and then you have what we call a rabbit, somebody who is going to run everything down,” Cook said. “They’re a great team because Cici is huge at the net, and Annika is really good at reading, and running things down. She’s just a really good volleyball player. They both serve really well, and Cici can ball-handle enough, and make plays when she has to. Both of them can hit, so it’s hard to figure out who to serve.”
Cook hopes that next season NU will be able to host a sand dual in Lincoln for the first time, with Arizona a possible opponent. The match would probably be played at the Huskers’ indoor sand court, with limited seating for fans.
* The Huskers began spring practice Monday. The only spring match is on April 25 against Kansas State in Grand Island. The match sold out in one hour.
* No changes were made to the 20-match conference schedule for this season. Some coaches want a change because there is currently an unbalanced schedule, but the group could not come to an agreement on how to fix the schedule. The administrators from the league schools chose not to step in and make the decision. Cook thinks the coaches will try again after this season to come up with a new format for 2016.
* The final match Jim McLaughlin coached at Washington was Nebraska’s win over Washington in the NCAA Elite Eight in December. McLaughlin is now the head coach at Notre Dame, where he was previously an assistant coach and his wife was a player and coach for the soccer program. In 14 seasons, McLaughlin led Washington to the Final Four four times and the 2005 NCAA title. Washington promoted 29-year old assistant coach Keegan Cook to head coach.