Husker volleyball relishes ‘super special’ win in Grand Island
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Nebraska volleyball team played a match in Grand Island for the first time in seven years Saturday when they took on Kansas in a spring exhibition game.
It was the first spring match in two years for the Huskers, who chose the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island to fulfill a promise that was made before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were supposed to come here before COVID,” Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook said. “When we called them and said, ‘OK, we’re going to honor our commitment,’ they lost it. Ever since then it’s just been awesome.”
Tickets for the match sold out in under 10 minutes and the venue was filled to the brim with Big Red faithful to watch the reigning national runner-ups take on the Jayhawks.
“Every time we come here it’s awesome,” Cook said. “The crowd is great, the venue is great, the people are great, they treat us really, really well.”
The Huskers were led by senior outside hitter Madi Kubik on offense with 20 kills and sophomore outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein on defense with eight blocks. Nebraska won the match 3-1.
“We get to come to a place like this, I’ve never been to Grand Island, ever in my life,” Kubik said. “And people are like, ‘Hey, we love you, we know you.’ I felt like for everyone that’s really special and something that you don’t get anywhere else in the country, so we just are so thankful for our fans and how loyal they are.”
For some on the roster with family spread across the state, having spring exhibitions in locations outside of Lincoln offers more opportunity for their loved ones to support in person. That was on full display in Grand Island on Saturday.
“I think it was really cool,” Lauenstein said. “I have grandparents and have a lot of family that live out here, so I think it was really cool that all of them were able to drive like 30 minutes down the road and come out.”
And with the sting of a loss in last season’s national championship now behind the Huskers, earning a win in front of their central Nebraskan fanbase was a meaningful experience.
“It was super special,” Lauenstein said. “There’s no words to really describe it. It was just really special for me.”
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