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Stivrins reaches beast-mode status during Nebraska volleyball team’s long winning streak

October 3, 2018

Nebraska middle blocker Lauren Stivrins goes in for a kill against Missouri State last month at the Devaney Sports Center.

Beast mode. When Nebraska volleyball player Lauren Stivrins reaches beast-mode status in a match she’s as good as any middle blocker in the country, coach John Cook says.

Beast mode means performing something with extreme power, skill or determination. And if you’ve seen Stivrins flying off one foot for a slide-attack kill, getting a solo stuff, surprising the opponent by dropping in an ace serve, or even digging a few balls, you’re seen her in beast-mode.

The sophomore from Scottsdale, Arizona, is one of the reasons third-ranked Nebraska has had a great start to the season that now includes a 13-match winning streak entering Wednesday’s 6 p.m. match against Iowa.

During two wins last week Stivrins was at her best, including a match for the record books. In a three-set victory at Northwestern, Stivrins was a perfect 10-for-10 on kills, getting a kill on each of her hitting attempts with no errors. She’s the first college player since 2016 to hit 1.000 (with at least 10 attacks), and just the third player at Nebraska to do so.

In that match she got several kills on the slide attack, a few on tips and crushed back an overpass. It wasn’t until Stivrins reached the team bus after the match when she learned she hadn’t missed a chance for a kill.

“I had no idea,” Stivrins said. “Nicklin (Hames) said something as I was getting on the bus and I was like, ‘Huh, that’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool.’”

After hearing how rare it is to have a perfect match as a hitter, Stivrins felt an even bigger sense of accomplishment. She can’t remember ever having a perfect hitting percentage at any level.

To Stirvins, achieving a match like that means getting in the zone and trusting your teammates and yourself.

“I owe a lot of it to our passers because it’s tough to set the middles if the pass isn’t there, so (Kenzie Maloney), and all our little defensive specialists and (Mikaela Foecke) were putting it right on the money for me, and Nicklin, of course, was pushing me perfect sets,” Stivrins said. “It’s easy to go beast-mode when everything is kind of working out like it should.”

Practice makes perfect. 💯 @Huskervball ’s @LaurenStivrins earned Co-Big Ten Player of the Week after posting a perfect hitting percentage with at least 10 kills. 😱 pic.twitter.com/PllgF16uzD — Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) October 1, 2018

Stivrins came back the next night with another good match in a four-set win against Illinois. She had eight kills and four blocks. She also led the team with three ace serves.

“That’s beast mode right there, for a middle,” Cook said.

By letting Stivrins serve this season, and by attempting to set her a lot during matches, Cook says the Huskers are giving Stivrins a chance to dominate.

“She has a chance to impact the matches in a lot of ways,” Cook said. “A lot of middles just think, ‘My job is just to block.’ Lauren has a lot of ways she can help our team win.”

Stivrins ranks third on the team in kills with 107. Her .398 hitting percentage leads the team, and ranks fourth in the Big Ten Conference. She’s had a .400 or higher hitting percentage in six matches.

Her kills per set average (2.14), hitting percentage and blocks per set (1.06) are improvements from her freshman season. She’s made the all-tournament team in two of the Huskers’ three tournaments.

Physically, Stivrins, is at another level, Cook said, and that shows when she sprints to the outside, jumps and rips a cross-court kill on a tight angle. She’s also learning how to be most effective.

“I just think she has a mindset that she’s willing this team to wins,” Cook said. “Last year, she was kind of just along for the ride.”

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