LINCOLN — The Nebraska volleyball team likely will count on a newcomer to take the starting libero position this fall, but the program added another recruit this week in hopes of making the position a strong one in the future.
Kenzie Maloney, a defensive specialist/libero from Louisville, Ky., committed to Nebraska on Tuesday, giving the Huskers their first commit for the Class of 2015.
Maloney, who will be a high school junior this fall, plays for national power Assumption High School, which finished the 2012 season 41-2, won its third straight state championship and ended the season ranked No. 5 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com.
Maloney visited Nebraska last weekend and saw the Huskers' spring exhibition win over Iowa State. After speaking with her parents and Assumption coach Ron Kordes early in the week, Maloney informed Husker coaches of her commitment.
“I took a visit there over the weekend and saw one of their practices before the match,” Maloney said. “It looked intense, and I just loved it. I loved the coaches and loved the team. It was awesome.”
The 5-foot-7 Maloney got her first taste of volleyball in the state when her Assumption team beat Papillion-La Vista South last September in the Battle on the Plains in Omaha when the Titans were led by incoming NU freshmen Kadie and Amber Rolfzen and Kelly Hunter.
Maloney also had offers from Louisville, Kentucky and Auburn, and visited each school before her trip to Lincoln last weekend. She said Nebraska coaches emphasized to her the program's need to continue bringing in defensive players who can handle the ball and pass at a high level.
“They stressed how they needed a libero, and I definitely think I can come in and do that for them,” Maloney said.
Kordes, who also runs Maloney's KIVA volleyball club, said the Huskers will be getting an outstanding athlete who can cover the entire court. Maloney is being recruited as a libero but has the leaping ability to fill in at outside hitter for her club team.
“He strength is her feet and the fact she moves so well,” Kordes said. “She's quick, has a great first step. When everyone else moves around on the court, she kind of slides around the court and is graceful.”
Maloney won't join the Nebraska program for two more seasons, but is the latest recruit to reflect the Huskers' focus on bringing in elite back-row prospects after two-year starting libero Lara Dykstra transferred to Pepperdine in January. Three incoming freshmen, Justine Wong-Orantes of Cypress, Calif., and walk-ons Alexa Ethridge of Lee's Summit, Mo., and Brenna Lyles of Wimberley, Texas, are expected to compete for the starting libero job this fall.
Nebraska also has a commitment from Lincoln Pius X defensive specialist Sydney Townsend for the Class of 2014.
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