The Nebraska volleyball program recruits top talents from across the country. In the 2021 class, though, the Huskers have three elite prospects close to home.
Pinnacle Bank Arena hosted the NSAA state volleyball championships this November, with state championships being handed out on Saturday. Husker fans could get a glimpse into the near future, as a trio of Nebraska recruits finished their high school careers at the event.
Perhaps the most highly touted in-state recruit since the Rolfzen sisters, Omaha Skutt Catholic senior outside hitter Lindsay Krause has received plenty of accolades. Named the National High School Junior of the Year by PrepVolleyball.com, Krause’s accomplishments go beyond Nebraska’s borders. She was a member of the USA Junior National team that won a gold medal in Cairo, Egypt, in Sept. 2019.
In the Cornhusker State, Krause is known as a player who seldom loses. Her Skutt team entered this year’s Class B title match with a chance to win the program’s sixth consecutive state championship. Krause and the Skutt senior class had not lost a postseason match in their careers.
That did not change this year, as the SkyHawks won the Class B title match 3-1 over Norris. Krause had a match-high 30 kills on .574 hitting.
Opposing head coaches, like Norris’ Christina Boesiger, might be thankful they won’t have to face off against her anymore.
“[There were] times that we thought we had a block on her, and she was still going over,” Boesiger said after the championship match. “She’s going to do some great things down the road.”
Skutt head coach Renee Saunders reflected on having Krause on her side of the net for one final time.
“I was just looking at the stat sheet, and I know Lindsay had 30 kills, but she hit .574. That’s pretty phenomenal,” she said.
Krause dropped the final kill of the match to seal the SkyHawk victory. Saunders said that Krause’s desire to get the ball in pressure situations is part of what makes her a special player.
“I literally turned to the bench and said, ‘let’s give in to Lindsay and end with an exclamation point here.’ I’m going to give her the ball on game point. The kid’s a gamer,” Saunders said.
Despite having plenty of international and club volleyball experience, Krause said that high school volleyball brings unmatched excitement. She attributes that to being able to play with her best friends, with whom she spends hours every day.
Krause has also picked up plenty of ways to improve her game over the years.
“Playing for [Coach] Saunders, I guarantee you I wouldn’t be the player I am today without Saunders or [Skutt setter] Allie Gray,” she said.
After Skutt’s championship moment at Pinnacle Bank Arena, it was time for Elkhorn South to take the floor. Elkhorn South is another perennially strong team which has been led by a future Husker for the past four years.
Rylee Gray, a six-foot-three middle blocker, committed to Nebraska right before her sophomore season began. Gray has backed up this early scholarship offer by hitting over .400 in each of her four seasons with Elkhorn South.
Gray’s top-seeded team took a 29-1 record into the Class A championship, where they defeated Papillion-La Vista South to win the title. The senior middle blocker had 16 kills and added several blocks. Her leadership was highlighted on a roster with few seniors.
Whitney Lauenstein, unlike Krause and Gray, is a recent addition to Nebraska’s 2021 recruiting class. After visiting the Devaney Sports Center for a match late in the Huskers’ 2019 season, the Waverly outside hitter received a full scholarship offer, which she accepted.
With her future plans set, Lauenstein capped her high school career with 485 kills on .339 hitting in her senior season. The Waverly Vikings earned the fourth overall seed in Class B, but fell to Ashland-Greenwood in four sets despite a 25-kill performance from Lauenstein.
Though their high school careers have ended, each of these Husker recruits will have one more chance to make an impact during the club season in early 2021. Each player plays for a different club organization around eastern Nebraska and are familiar with the challenge of playing against each other.
It will not be long, though, until they all wear matching uniforms.
As the club season starts, the college volleyball season will also begin its own rescheduled season. It’s a chance for Nebraska volleyball fans to get a look at the present and the future at the same time.