Marriah Buss has plenty of good memories at the Devaney Center.
"I went to Devaney for like all my birthdays," said the Lincoln Lutheran graduate, who celebrates her birthday in October.
Buss got to play volleyball in Devaney, too, competing in the Class C-1 state final twice. The Nebraska Gatorade player of the year as a junior, Buss led the Warriors to the state title two years ago, capping her career with a C-1 record 2,372 kills.
Now she'll return to the building as a collegiate player.
Buss and her UNO teammates are playing in the Ameritas Challenge, which includes a match against Nebraska at 11 a.m. Friday.
"I think no matter what team you are, whether you're Nebraska or the opponent, you feed off the energy," said Buss, referring to the Devaney crowd. "Just being in Devaney is super special."
When the Mavericks face No. 4 Nebraska, it will be the highest-ranked opponent they've played since joining Division I. The last time the in-state schools met, NU swept UNO at Baxter Arena in 2017.
Buss said one of her team's main objectives is focusing on its game, and not worrying about "the outside forces."
After NU, the Mavs face Arizona State at 3:30 p.m. Friday before Saturday's match at 3:30 p.m. against Georgia. NU plays the Bulldogs at 6 p.m. Friday and the Sun Devils at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"If we want to play for big things, we have to put ourselves in big moments," UNO coach Matt Buttermore said. "Obviously, Nebraska will be a great environment. Serving and passing will be real important. All three (opponents) are physical, so we're going to have to serve and pass well and be efficient in transition with the opportunities we get."
The Mavs opened their season last weekend, losing to Iowa State before sweeping Drake. UNO hit .299 as a team and cut down on its errors against the Bulldogs.
"We played a much cleaner game and we played more of our style like we've been practicing," said Buss, who is third on the team with 13 kills the first weekend.
Rachel Fairbanks had double-digit kills in both matches while Sadie Limback had nine both days. Sami Clarkson is averaging 11.5 assists per set.
Buss' road back to Devaney wasn't exactly a straight shot. She said she takes pride in where she's from, and that's how she ended up with the Mavs.
The 6-foot outside hitter spent the 2020-21 season at Wichita State, playing in 14 of 17 matches. She averaged 1.45 kills and 0.82 digs per set, but decided to transfer to UNO in May.
"I think Nebraskans love Nebraska," Buss said. "You don't realize that until you leave. It was super awesome getting to come back. Getting to meet Buttermore and all the players here, it just made it a no-brainer.