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Coach John Cook hopes for even more passion in players in weekend's Michigan match

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Hannah Werth is just one of 14 volleyball players on the Nebraska roster.

But on Wednesday night against Michigan State, the Husker athlete played fortune teller for nearly 30 seconds.  

“Before the play Hannah was like, ‘I’m blocking this ball, guys, I’m telling you now, I’m blocking this ball, it’s happening,” senior setter Lauren Cook said with a laugh.

And on that next play, Werth did exactly that. The NU player proved her prediction right when she blocked an attack error by MSU’s Amy Dentlinger in the second set to put Nebraska up 5-1.

The Huskers went on to win the set 25-16 and later defeated the Spartans for the 11th time in matchup history.

After the solid defensive play by Werth, the team got into a huddle, passing high-fives and celebrating their teammate’s prophecy.

Werth said enjoying themselves is what helps the team keep relaxed throughout an entire match.

“Volleyball is supposed to be fun,” Werth said. “I know it may seem very business-like, but fun is the one thing that’s going to help us play with heart and passion.”

And playing with the passion they displayed on Wednesday night is what NU coach John Cook said he’s hoping to see in their next match, too.

On Sunday, the No. 6 Huskers (10-2, Big Ten 2-1) will take on Michigan (13-3, 1-1) for their fourth Big Ten Conference match of the season. Nebraska currently holds a 5-1 series lead against the Wolverines, including a 2-0 record against them last season.

After falling short in a 3-2 loss to No. 17 Purdue in their last outing, the Wolverines will be coming into Lincoln hungry.

But Nebraska won’t have to worry about its next conference opponent for a couple of days. Cook said he’s delighted that the team will have a few days off to recuperate.

“It’s nice,” he said. “It reminds me of the old Big 12 days. You get some time to prepare; it’s not like you’re turning around. This will be a fun time because we get to take a day off (Friday), and I think our kids need it.”

After the team’s first loss of the season at Iowa State, the Huskers traveled to Penn State, which became their first conference loss and second consecutive beating in one week.

Nebraska then stayed in University Park, Pa., until Friday to prepare for their match against Ohio State on Saturday.

Though they picked up their first conference win against the Buckeyes, the team was joyful when the elongated trip was over.

“Last week was a long week,” Cook said. “They really have not had a break. We got back late Saturday night but Sunday they were just trying to get reorganized for the week.”

Now it’s time for the team to prepare for this weekend.

While Bo Pelini’s football team hosts its first Big Ten showdown against Wisconsin on Saturday night, Cook and his players will be the only NU athletic team competing at home on Sunday.

The coach said being the only matinee that day makes him thrilled for not only the fans, but for future recruits, as well.

“The way these weekends line up, all the recruits want to come in on the same weekend,” Cook said. “Sunday, we’ll be the only show going and we’re excited about that.”

And after coming out victorious in their first home match since their three-game road trip, Cook said his team is glad to be back home.

“It feels like we’ve been away for a long time,” Cook said. “Our fans are great. I think they’re honoring and respecting the Coliseum this year. These are fun matches and it’s going to be like this the whole way through the Big Ten.”

After Sunday’s 2 p.m. matchup against the Wolverines, the Huskers will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to take on the Boilermakers next Friday at 7 p.m.


Hannah Werth is just one of 14 volleyball players on the Nebraska roster.

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