The Huskers, who return five starters from last season's national championship squad, will be challenged with one of the toughest schedules in all of college volleyball. Seven of NU's eight non-conference opponents participated in postseason play a year ago, including regional finalists Hawaii and Penn State, and the Huskers could potentially meet national semifinalist UCLA at the AVCA Showcase in Omaha during the first weekend of competition.
According to Cook, the combination of the non-conference schedule and a rigorous Big 12 slate will challenge a veteran Husker squad.
"We are doing everything we can to challenge our team and play the best teams in the country," Cook said. "We also want to make sure we are bringing in the best teams in the country for our fans to create marquee events. Sometimes it is not easy, but it is something that the sport needs to do more of to promote itself across the country. We applaud the teams like Hawaii and Penn State that wanted to come here and help us create great events that this sport needs."
Season-ticket renewals will be mailed out in May, as the 2007 season-ticket package also includes tickets for NU's match against Penn State at the Qwest Center and the Devaney Center match against Hawaii. Single-match tickets will go on sale later this summer and fans are encouraged to check on Huskers.com for updates.
"The other thing we wanted to do with our schedule was to give our fans who aren't able to go to the NU Coliseum several opportunities to see this team in person, whether it is at the Devaney Center or in Omaha at the Qwest Center," Cook said. "We know how much support we get from around the state and it was important for us to play a couple of matches in bigger venues to give more of our fans a chance to see us play."
The 2007 schedule begins in Omaha, as the Huskers open the season with the AVCA Showcase at the Qwest Center on Aug. 25-26. NU will square off in one semifinal with a Tennessee squad that went 19-12 and reached the NCAA Tournament while UCLA and Utah meet in the other semifinal. The following night, NU will face either UCLA, which finished 33-4 and was ranked third in the country, or Utah, which went 28-4 en route to winning the Mountain West title. Tickets for the AVCA Showcase are currently on sale at Ticketmaster locations throughout the state and at Ticketmaster.com
The following weekend, Nebraska will host one of the nation's premier in-season tournaments with the Labor Day Classic. This four-team tournament features Big Ten champion Penn State, Big West champion Cal Poly and Creighton. The marquee day will be Sunday, Sept. 2, as Nebraska will take on Penn State, which finished 32-3 and was ranked fifth nationally, while Creighton squares off with Cal Poly in a doubleheader at Qwest Center Omaha.
The Huskers' final tournament before the start of Big 12 play will be the following weekend with the third-annual Players Challenge at the NU Coliseum on Sept. 7-8. The field for that weekend's tournament will be NCAA qualifiers Duke, Louisville and New Mexico State, although pairings for that tournament have not been determined.
Nebraska opens Big 12 action with a bang on Wednesday, Sept. 12, as Big 12 runner-up Texas visits the NU Coliseum. In all, six Big 12 teams reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year with three teams (Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma) advancing to regional play.
NU steps out of league action for the final time on Sunday, Oct. 21, when the Huskers host national power Hawaii at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Rainbow Wahine was 29-6 and won the Western Athletic Conference crown in 2006. It is Hawaii's first trip to Lincoln since the 2002 NCAA Regional.
The Huskers return five starters from a team that went 33-1 and won the school's third national title in 2006. The Huskers return 2006 Honda Award Winner and AVCA National Player of the Year Sarah Pavan, along with AVCA All-Americans Jordan Larson, Tracy Stalls and Rachel Holloway. In addition, 2005 AVCA National Player of the Year Christina Houghtelling returns for the 2007 season after missing all of last season after shoulder surgery.
2007 Nebraska Volleyball Schedule
DATE DAY EVENT SITE TIME
Aug. 25-26 Fri.-Sat. at AVCA Showcase Qwest Center Omaha
Aug. 25 Friday UCLA vs. Utah Qwest Center Omaha TBA
Aug. 25 Friday vs. Tennessee Qwest Center Omaha TBA
Aug. 26 Saturday Consolation Match Qwest Center Omaha TBA
Aug. 26 Saturday Championship Match Qwest Center Omaha TBA
Aug. 31-Sept. 3 Fri.-Mon. Labor Day Tournament (Creighton, Cal Poly and Penn State)
Aug. 31 Friday Cal Poly vs. Penn State NU Coliseum TBA
Aug. 31 Friday vs. Creighton NU Coliseum TBA
Sept. 2 Sunday Creighton vs. Cal Poly Qwest Center Omaha TBA
Sept. 2 Sunday vs. Penn State Qwest Center Omaha TBA
Sept. 3 Monday vs. Cal Poly NU Coliseum TBA
Sept. 7-8 Fri.-Sat. Players Challenge (Duke, Louisville and New Mexico State)
Sept. 7 Friday TBA NU Coliseum TBA
Sept. 8 Saturday TBA NU Coliseum TBA
Sept. 12 Wednesday Texas NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 Saturday Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas TBA
Sept. 22 Saturday Texas A&M NU Coliseum TBA
Sept. 26 Wednesday Kansas Lawrence, Kan. TBA
Sept. 29 Saturday Baylor NU Coliseum TBA
Oct. 3 Wednesday Kansas State NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 Saturday Colorado Boulder, Colo. TBA
Oct. 10 Wednesday Iowa State NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 Saturday Oklahoma Norman, Okla. TBA
Oct. 17 Wednesday Missouri Columbia, Mo. TBA
Oct. 20 Saturday Kansas NU Coliseum TBA
Oct. 21 Sunday Hawaii Devaney Center 3 p.m.
Oct. 24 Wednesday Texas Austin, Texas TBA
Oct. 31 Wednesday Missouri NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Nov. 3 Saturday Kansas State Manhattan, Kan. TBA
Nov. 7 Wednesday Colorado NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Nov. 11 Sunday Iowa State Ames, Iowa 3 p.m.
Nov. 14 Wednesday Texas A&M College Station, Texas TBA
Nov. 17 Saturday Oklahoma NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 Wednesday Baylor Waco, Texas TBA
Nov. 24 Saturday Texas Tech NU Coliseum 7 p.m.
Nov. 29-Dec. 2 Thurs.-Sun NCAA First & Second Rounds Campus Sites TBA
Dec. 7-8 Fri.-Sat NCAA Regionals TBA TBA
Dec. 13 Thursday NCAA National Semifinals Sacramento, Calif. TBA
Dec. 15 Saturday NCAA Championship March Sacramento, Calif. TBA
Home Matches in Bold and Red; All dates and times subject to change; all times listed are central; All matches can be heard on the Husker Sports Radio Network; Schedule as of March 23; Match times for NU's contests on Sept. 22, Sept. 29 and Oct. 20 will not be determined until football times for that day are determined.