NU volleyball sweeps Kentucky
BY TODD HENRICHS / Lincoln Journal Star
Saturday, Apr 12, 2008 - 10:30:52 pm CDT
Sure, there were the two NCAA volleyball tournament matches where she played extensively and that time last fall when she tried her hand at libero. But as a whole, Tara MuellerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s freshman season was more a learning process than any wide-eyed joy ride.
What Mueller learned was that to be the player that Nebraska will need this fall, she would need to concentrate on being herself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I need to play how I play,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mueller said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“At times, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gotten caught up in what my teammates are thinking and what my coaches are thinking.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In high school and club, I was always the go-to player and I had that spark. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I want to be here.Ã¢â‚¬Â
None other than NebraskaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s current go-to player, senior All-American Jordan Larson, says Mueller is more than capable of growing into that role.
Larson led Nebraska with 17 kills as the Huskers swept Kentucky in SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spring exhibition match. Mueller added 16 kills on only 36 swings, and were it not for nine errors, the 6-foot sophomore outside hitter would have matched Larson in efficiency.
Mueller added 11 digs.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She can pass, she can set, she can dig, she can serve and she can hit,Ã¢â‚¬Â Larson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There were a couple plays where she could have been a little smarter, but that comes with experience.Ã¢â‚¬Â
For the 2,792 fans that turned out at the NU Coliseum, SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s match was a first glimpse into what might be in store for the Huskers next season. Nebraska swept all four sets from the more-experienced Wildcats, winning by scores of 31-29, 25-18, 25-20 and 25-14.
Kori Cooper, Amanda Gates and Brooke Delano all had solid nights offensively for NU, and Lindsey Licht, despite struggling at times attacking, had a hand in eight blocks for the Huskers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I saw a lot of nerves, which we were expecting, but I also think we did some really good things,Ã¢â‚¬Â Nebraska coach John Cook said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I thought our passing was really good for the spring. The end of the first game was the only time I thought we really broke down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Nebraska hit .316, and without the 15 swings that missed the court, the Huskers would have posted a sizzling number in what surely was Maggie GriffinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final match as NUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s setter.
Griffin, just as she did after starting on Senior Night last fall, shed tears as she waved to the crowd after SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s match ended.
Looking ahead to next fall, Griffin said she has a good feeling about what her former team can accomplish. Larson, the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leader, agreed, especially after seeing how her teammates stepped up and played with more passion.
Said Cook: Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to make them believe they can be a great team. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to happen overnight, but this team has a chance to grow into something special.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Former Husker Brooke Bartek traveled with the Wildcats but did not play. The former Lincoln Northeast standout underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum. Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said he hopes that Bartek will be ready to go for the start of the fall season.
Reach Todd Henrichs at 473-7320 or firstname.lastname@example.org