Husker volleyball finished as the #2 ranked team in the AP poll after falling to Wisconsin in five sets in the national championship game. Nebraska was at number 12 at one point in the season and rose to the end of the NCAA tournament.
In this series, HuskerOnline will break down Nebraska’s season by ranking group based on stats and national rankings.
Series: OH | MB |
Nebraska’s starting setter Nicklin Hames finished the season with 1,226 assists. She was number 4 in the Big Ten with 10.75 assists per set and number 27 in the NCAA. Louisville setter and AVCA First-Team All-American Tori Dilfer sat at number 28 with 10.74 assists per set.
Hames, who returns for her fifth season but in a new role, is Nebraska’s all-time assist leader with 4,636 career assists. In the 2021 season, Hames had her second lowest assist per set. The first lowest was her freshman season in 2018, when she averaged 10.49 assists per set.
In a recent podcast on Husker Radio Network, Hames said a team can only play as well as their setter. When the setter is having a bad day, everyone has. There were several times during the 2021 season when Hames struggled. Occasionally, Husker Head Coach John Cook had to call time-outs to talk to Hames.
The setter / free:
Hames had the second most digs on the team with 388 behind libero Lexi Rodriquez’s 524. The 5-foot-10 athlete averaged 3.40 digs per set, the most of any Big Ten setters. Penn State’s Gabby Blossom, who is in the transfer portal, came in second with 2.98 digs per set.
Cook said Nebraska had four elite defensive players: Rodriguez, defensive specialist Kenzie Knuckles and Keonilei Akana and Hames. Hames announced that she will not be Nebraska’s starting setter next season. If she does make it on the field, she is likely to be a Defensive Specialist and/or Serving Specialist.
The next floor in general:
With Hames stepping down as Nebraska’s starting setter, it’s likely freshman Kennedi Orr will be Huskers’ setter in 2022. Orr played in seven sets in early 2021 when Hames missed two games due to an early season injury.
The number 1 in the 2021 class had 51 assists, averaging 7.29 per set. Orr had one kill on five attacks, 20 digs, and three blocks.
Cook said because Orr has big hands, she places the ball “like a man.” Hames described her setting as “beautiful” and that she and setter Anni Evans talk about how jealous they are of Orr’s setting abilities.
The “good little setter”:
Evans, a sophomore walk-on from Waverly, Neb., started against Colgate along with Orr when Nebraska played a two-setter system during the first two sets and only Orr played in the third set. The 5-foot-6 setter played back row, with Orr up front, and had six assists and four digs.
In the other game Hames got injured, Orr started while NU used their typical one-setter system. However, when Kansas State made a comeback and won the third set, Evans came in and secured a comeback with 12 assists and the Huskers won in four sets.
Evans served most of the season for Nebraska’s center blocker. Occasionally, outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein filled in for Hames while Evans was serving and then Evans would be the lead setter on the field.
Cook has called Evans a “good little setter” several times and her limited time on the floor has reflected that.
Nebraska does not have an incoming setter in the 2022 class. Maisie Boesiger, who is a walk-on, was the setter of Norris High School, but will switch to a defensive specialist for the Huskers.