Cook Names New Asst Volleyball Coach

University of Nebraska Head Coach John Cook announced the hiring of Lizzy Stemke Tuesday as an assistant coach for the Husker volleyball program.

A former U.S. National Team player and All-American setter at Wisconsin, Stemke comes to Nebraska from the University of North Carolina, where she served as an assistant coach for the Tar Heels over the last two seasons.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for John and the Husker program," Stemke said. "Nebraska has set the bar in college volleyball, and I am excited to be a part of this program."

Cook said that Stemke's coaching credentials combined with her successful playing background made her an ideal choice for the Husker program.

"Lizzy is a winner and has coaching in her blood," Cook said. "When we started our search to replace Charlene (Johnson-Tagaloa), we were looking for a coach that not only could impact our setters, but could also be a role model for our players who have aspirations of playing either professionally or internationally after their college career. That was something that we felt was important in our program. When we conducted our national search, Lizzy's successful background as both a player and coach helped her emerge from a strong field of applicants.

"What impressed me most about her was that she was not a natural setter, but she made the most of her talent and skills as a player and brought that same work ethic to coaching at North Carolina," Cook said. "She not only led Wisconsin to the national title match against Nebraska in 2000, but also helped the United States to a silver medal at the 2002 World Championships, which is the best finish by the U.S. in that event."

At UNC, Stemke served as setters' coach, handled opponent scouting and video exchange, recruiting, team travel and community outreach. In her first season as an assistant at UNC, the Tar Heels won the ACC title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Stemke said that her playing experience has provided a foundation throughout her coaching career.

"Setters need to have great leadership and confidence," Stemke said. "I went through a process as a player and want to help the setters that I work with get to that. I can also relate to things that the players go through and help them one-on-one to build relationships which are important in volleyball."

Stemke enjoyed a distinguished career at the University of Wisconsin from 1998 to 2001. A three-year starter at setter for the Badgers, she helped Wisconsin to a 112-23 record, a pair of Big Ten titles and an NCAA runner-up finish in 2000. One of only three two-time AVCA All-Americans in school history, she ranked fourth nationally in assists as a senior in 2001, with 13.72 per game when she was named Big Ten Player of the Year. She was recruited to Wisconsin by Cook, whose last year as Badgers'  head coach was in 1998.

Following her collegiate career, Stemke spent two years with the U.S. National Team. In 2002, she was a member of the silver medal-winning team at the World Championships. She also helped the U.S. team win a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan-American Games. Following her time with the national team, Stemke spent two seasons playing professionally. In 2003, she was named the MVP of the Puerto Rican League. She then spent one season playing in the Pro A League in France.

Stemke also has experience coaching both at the collegiate and club levels. She spent the 2003 season as a volunteer assistant at the University of Central Florida. During her time in Florida, Stemke also co-founded the Team Orlando Volleyball Club and acted as its head recruiter and setter and defense clinic coordinator. She has also spent time working with the Wisconsin Power Volleyball Club, the All-American Volleyball Camps, Next Level Volleyball Camp and the Triangle Setting Academy.

Stemke earned her bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin in 2004. The former Lizzy Fitzgerald, she is married to Kevin Stemke.

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