LINCOLN — The Nebraska volleyball program received an early Christmas gift Wednesday that will help bring talent and experience to a young roster.
All-Southeastern Conference outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, who left Tennessee at the end of this season, confirmed Wednesday afternoon she will transfer to Nebraska to play in 2013.
“I looked through all my options, and it came down to Nebraska because I wanted to go somewhere I would be worked the hardest and pushed the hardest,” Robinson told The World-Herald on Wednesday. “I’m familiar with (NU) Coach (John) Cook, and I just really respect the way he coaches. I want to be part of a program that truly loves the game and loves volleyball. You don’t really get that anywhere else.”
Cook said Wednesday he could not confirm whether Nebraska had added any player to the roster, citing NCAA rules, but Robinson said she planned to enroll at Nebraska for the spring semester in January. She will have one season of eligibility.
The Bartlett, Ill., native was initially offered by the Huskers out of Wheaton-St. Francis High School in 2009, where she was named a high school All-American by PrepVolleyball.com and Volleyball Magazine. She played club volleyball for the Chicago powerhouse Sports Performance program, where she was teammates with Husker middle blocker Meghan Haggerty.
“I’m excited to play with her again,” Robinson said, adding that the players’ families are close.
The 6-foot-2 Robinson was one of the top players in the SEC the last three seasons. This year, she was third in the SEC in kills, averaging 4.22 kills per set, while adding 3.50 digs per game, good for 14th in the league. She led the Volunteers to a 22-8 record this year, and had 15 kills and 24 digs in Tennessee’s five-set loss to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
In 2011, Robinson became the first Tennessee player to be named SEC player of the year after leading the conference in kills (4.52 per set), points (5.15 per set) and double-doubles (23). She was an honorable mention All-American this year and was a second-team All-American in 2011.
Robinson was one of four players who announced they would leave Tennessee at the end of the season. She said since Tennessee has a policy of not releasing student-athletes from their scholarships, she had to appeal to the school before being able to transfer. While the appeal was ongoing, she contacted Texas, Hawaii, UCLA and Southern California in addition to Nebraska.
“There was a lot that went on this year (at Tennessee),” Robinson said. “It wasn’t just a good situation regarding communication between me and the coach. It wasn’t a healthy environment. I made my decision at the end of the year I wanted to transfer.”
Robinson’s addition should give Nebraska some much-needed experience at outside hitter in 2013 after the Huskers lost seniors Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth from this year’s club. In 2013, NU will return sophomores Kelsey Fien and walk-on Alicia Ostrander at outside hitter. Nebraska also will add incoming freshmen Amber and Kadie Rolfzen from Papillion-La Vista South. The Rolfzens, both high school All-Americans, also will join the program in January after graduating from high school a semester early.
Robinson said the graduation of NU’s top two attackers from last season did play a factor in her decision to come to Lincoln, but added she doesn’t expect to be handed a starting job.
“I know I’m going to have to compete for it,” she said.
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