LINCOLN — When the Nebraska volleyball team opens fall camp in less than two weeks, Lauren Stivrins could be participating in drills or she might not even be in the gym.
She just doesn’t know yet.
The All-America middle blocker underwent back surgery in May and is still recovering.
During the first episode of her podcast with Nicklin Hames — “On Set: with Nick and Lo” — Stivrins said she is focusing on rehabilitation and getting fully healthy before figuring out her plan. Stivrins hasn’t stepped on the court, run or jumped since her surgery. Instead she’s been spending time in the pool and regaining her form.
“People are like, ‘Why haven’t you made a decision? Why haven’t you said anything?’ And it’s because I don’t know,” Stivrins said on the podcast, which was released Thursday. “I’m really taking it day by day. It would be nice to get back, but I’m not going to come back and play until I’m fully ready to do so, and I don’t want to make an announcement and then have to go back on my word.”
Stivrins also went into detail about the extent of her injury. She dealt with back issues for the final two months of the spring season and went through a minimal amount of practice for most of the year. Despite the injury and pain, she still averaged more than three kills per set and was third in the nation with a .468 hitting percentage.
“It was pretty gnarly, and it sucked because it was constant, too. It’s not just when I was playing volleyball,” Stivrins said. “I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything that I normally would want to do, and so it was just a really tough time.”
The injury got worse as the season progressed. It finally flared up and became public during the Huskers’ NCAA tournament run.
On the morning of Nebraska’s regional semifinal match against Baylor, Stivrins woke up in pain and saw the array of pills she had to take to manage it. She decided then that she’d had enough. She talked to NU’s sports psychologist, coaches and training staff and decided to rest and focus on a potential regional final.
She said she had faith in her teammates to play well without her, and NU did sweep the Bears. Stivrins returned to play in the regional finals against Texas and finished with seven kills and one block in the four-set loss.
The Huskers kick off the fall campaign with practices Aug. 9, but Stivrins doesn’t have a time frame for when she’ll decide on her future.
“I don’t have an answer right now,” Stivrins said.