LINCOLN — The Nebraska volleyball team will be without a key part of its depth for the 2021 spring season.
Sophomore Nicole Drewnick has opted out of the upcoming season, according to a Nebraska athletic department spokesperson. Drewnick is still enrolled i classes at Nebraska but was absent from preseason photos on Wednesday.
As of Friday afternoon, she was not listed in the transfer portal and intends to return for the fall 2021 season.
Without the 6-foot-1 setter, the Huskers will only have two available players at the position: two-year starter and co-captain Nicklin Hames and Anni Evans, a true freshman walk-on. Evans, who was a four-year starter at Waverly, was committed to Colorado State before switching to the Huskers in 2019.
The No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class, Kennedi Orr is an early enrollee who can practice with the Huskers during the spring, but can't play in matches.
On Wednesday, Nebraska coach John Cook did not mention they would be without Drewnick but said setters are irreplaceable and are vital with the danger of losing players to COVID safety protocols.
“I don’t think it would be fair to any team to play against or play for if you didn’t have a setter and you take somebody and throw them in there,” he said. “It would not be good for anybody.”
Drewnick played in 29 matches as a freshman in 2019. She often would come in to serve and set as part of a double-switch to replace Hames with a bigger block in the front row. She finished the year with 10 assists and two aces.
The Dallas native participated in the Red-White scrimmage in November and finished with two kills and six assists as she split time with Evans at setter for the White team.
In high demand
While the TV schedule has not been released to the public, Cook has seen it and expects 19 of Nebraska's 22 regular-season matches to be televised this spring.
In 2019, 18 of 29 regular-season matches were televised: 10 on BTN, six on NET and two on ESPN networks.
Cook said he doesn’t put much stock in the preseason poll, which has the Huskers rated fifth. Most of it is guesswork at best and the poll included Hawaii at No. 21, but the Rainbow Wahine and the rest of the Big West Conference are sitting out this spring.
However, he pointed out the last two times Nebraska started the season ranked No. 5 were in 2015 and 2017, which both ended up in national championship runs.
Omaha on the mind
With the Final Four scheduled for Omaha, the Huskers are not shying away from talking about making another run to the final weekend in their home state.
Hames said Omaha is always in the back of their minds.
“We don’t want it to be something we don’t want to talk about at all,” she said about playing in Omaha to end the season. “We know that’s a possibility and we want to be prepared for that. We are super excited about having it anywhere. Having it in Nebraska and maybe all the fans would maybe get to go at that point would be amazing. But we’ve done a good job talking about, so it takes the pressure off of it.”
Omaha Skutt senior Lindsay Krause was named the fall player of the year from VolleyballMag.com this week. The Husker recruit led the SkyHawks to their sixth straight Class B title with an impressive season stat line of 432 kills at a .475 clip, 88 aces, 243 digs and 35 solo blocks. The 6-foot-3 outside hitter is playing basketball during the winter and will join Nebraska this summer.