LINCOLN — Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook capitalized on his second chance to recruit Mary Pollmiller and added an experienced player to help fill a huge position of need.
Cook announced Monday that Pollmiller, a setter who spent her first two college seasons at Tennessee, will transfer to NU and be eligible to play this fall.
“This is a great opportunity for both Mary and Nebraska volleyball,” Cook said in a release. “After meeting with Mary, I think she is a great fit here at Nebraska and will embrace all the things we’re trying to do on and off the court.”
Pollmiller, who will arrive this month and take summer classes at Nebraska, becomes the second Tennessee transfer to join the Huskers this offseason. The native of Littleton, Colo., was a teammate of Husker outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, who joined Nebraska after leaving Tennessee last December.
The two were among four players who announced their intentions to transfer from the Volunteers after last season. While Robinson decided to make the move to Nebraska almost immediately, Cook said, Pollmiller “went back to square one” in choosing a home for her final two seasons of college eligibility. Cook said she spent much of the spring visiting schools, including a stop in Lincoln last weekend where she toured the remodeled Devaney Center, where the Huskers will begin playing home matches this fall.
“She wants to win. She wants to compete,” Cook told The World-Herald on Monday. “Like a lot of recruits, I think she was impressed by our facilities and commitment to volleyball.”
Cook said Nebraska originally recruited Pollmiller out of high school, with Pollmiller attending the Huskers’ five-set loss to UCLA at the Devaney Center in 2009. However, she eventually chose Tennessee and was named the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year in 2011.
Pollmiller started at setter in all 62 of the Volunteers’ matches the last two years and was named an honorable mention All-American in 2011. As a freshman, she broke a Tennessee school record and led the SEC with 11.94 assists per game, a mark that ranked fourth nationally. She posted 18 double-doubles last year and became just the second player in Volunteers history to record a triple-double with 11 kills, 14 digs, and 49 assists in a five-set win against Wichita State.
The move reunites two of the SEC’s top players in Lincoln. Robinson was named SEC player of the year in 2011. That season, Tennessee led the conference in kills and was second in attack percentage.
“Robinson was crying when she found out Mary was going to come here,” Cook said.
Adding Pollmiller helps fill Nebraska’s large hole at setter after the graduation of All-American Lauren Cook and a pair of transfers left the team without a setter on the roster. Sophomore Alexa Strange, who ran the Huskers’ offense during the spring exhibition season, is transferring to a school in California to focus solely on sand volleyball. Former World-Herald All-State setter Lauren Sieckmann, an Elkhorn South graduate, left NU last spring before playing a match and now plays sand volleyball at Pepperdine.
Incoming freshman Kelly Hunter, one of the country’s top setter recruits out of Papillion-La Vista South, will arrive this summer and is expected to compete right away for the starting job. However, Nebraska has never started a true freshman as the team’s lone setter in a 5-1 system.
John Cook said he likely won’t decide what system the team will run in 2013 until preseason practices begin, but said having an experienced setter does give the team options.
Pollmiller’s addition continues a recent string of setters who have transferred to Nebraska. The Huskers’ two previous starting setters started their college careers elsewhere. Lauren Cook was named national freshman of the year at UCLA in 2009 before finishing an All-America career at NU last year. Sydney Anderson played her first season at Utah in 2006 before becoming a three-year starter for the Huskers, earning All-America honors in 2008 and 2009.
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