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Cook wonders about Minnesota’s motivation in not agreeing to change time of match at Nebraska

October 2, 2018

Yes, Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook’s preference would be for the Huskers’ match against Minnesota on Saturday to not be played at the same time as the Nebraska football game at Wisconsin.

But a change was not able to be made, meaning the volleyball match at the Devaney Sports Center will begin at 7 p.m., as originally scheduled. The Nebraska athletic department made a request to move the match to 4 p.m., so the match would be over about the same time as the 6:30 p.m. football game began.

The volleyball match will be a showdown between top-five ranked teams, and the third-ranked Huskers and No. 5 Gophers may also be playing for first place in the Big Ten standings.

To change the time, both programs must agree.

“We asked Minnesota to move it up; they refused,” Cook said on Monday. “I really don’t know what their motivation behind that is. So the match will stay at 7 o’clock. Both programs have to agree to make a change. And if they don’t want to change it, we can’t change it.”

Cook was anticipating that fans would call the volleyball office this week asking why a change wasn’t made to accommodate those wanting to both attend the volleyball match and watch the football game on TV.

Cook said he would understand Minnesota not wanting to change the time of the match if the Gophers were scheduled to play on Friday. But the Gophers’ other match this week is at Northwestern on Wednesday. Nebraska also plays on Wednesday, with the Huskers hosting Iowa.

The Minnesota volleyball program provided a statement to the Journal Star when asked why the Gophers did not agree to a schedule change.

“Last week the University of Nebraska asked our preference for the start time of this Saturday’s match,” the statement said. “After due consideration, our preference was to keep it as originally scheduled. Both of our matches are on the road this week, so we felt it was in our student athletes’ best interests to do this.”

Cook said if he was in the same situation he would agree to a schedule change.

“Absolutely,” Cook said. “If there was a Friday match, then that would be a different story. They play Wednesday, we play Wednesday, so I don’t see what the big deal is. We’ve always tried to accommodate those situations.

“The fans pay the bills. You want to keep your fans happy, and they want to be a part of it. Volleyball is a big deal here, and so is football. Even though it’s a road game, it’s a big day here in Nebraska. Volleyball playing Minnesota is a huge game, and football going to Wisconsin is a huge game. To me it makes sense to try and accommodate our fans.”

This is the first time Cook can recall a team not agreeing to a time change for a match.

Player of the week: Nebraska middle blocker Lauren Stivrins is the Big Ten co-player of the week. In last week’s three-set win at Northwestern she was a perfect 10-for-10 on kills. She’s the first player in college volleyball since 2016 to hit 1.000 (with at least 10 attempts). She also had eight kills, four blocks and three ace serves in a win at previously unbeaten Illinois.

Injury update: Anezka Szabo, the Huskers’ top backup at both right-side hitter and middle blocker, suffered a high-ankle sprain in practice last week and could be out about one month. Sami Slaughter will now train to be the Huskers’ emergency backup middle blocker.

Worth quoting: “She makes attempts to dig balls. She’s thinking about digging balls. Most freshman setters are so worried about setting,” said Cook, on the defensive abilities of setter Nicklin Hames. She ranks second on the team in digs with 147.

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