Nebraska Volleyball Players - Fall 2018

Nebraska's Callie Schwarzenbach (25) Lexi Sun (10) and Lauren Stivrins (26) react to a play in a game against the Minnesota Gophers at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Volleyball season is around the corner, and the last pit stop before the season starts is the annual preseason predictions.

On Monday, the Big Ten released the preseason All-Big Ten conference team and standing predictions. Wisconsin was chosen as conference champion, while Nebraska came second. Last year’s conference champion, Minnesota, placed third in the Big Ten poll.

The Big Ten preseason poll differs from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) top-25 poll, where Nebraska is the highest-ranked Big Ten team at No. 2. Six other Big Ten teams are in the preseason poll including Wisconsin, who is ranked fifth.

Minnesota and Nebraska are the two Big Ten teams ranked above projected conference champion Wisconsin in the preseason AVCA poll. Minnesota comes at No. 3, while Illinois and Penn State are sixth and eighth, respectively. Michigan and Purdue come in at No. 15 and No. 17.

“I think I could probably name out five teams that could probably be number two, no problem,” head coach John Cook said at a Monday press conference. 

Nebraska’s conference schedule is also one of the toughest in the Big Ten. The Huskers’ first conference game is at Illinois, which is predicted to finish fifth in the Big Ten, and the Huskers’ first home conference game is against the Badgers. 

The other major release on Monday was the preseason All-Big Ten team, as three of the 14 players are Huskers. The three selected were junior outside hitter Lexi Sun, junior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins and sophomore setter Nicklin Hames.

The Huskers are tied with Penn State and Minnesota for most players on the preseason team, but this was the first time since 2015 that at least one Husker was not a unanimous preseason selection. For Nebraska, it will only play these teams once each.

Despite all the preseason accolades, the Huskers are not caught up on the preseason attention and awards.

“We just go with the mindset, take it one point at a time and see where we are at the end,” Cook said.