Nebraska volleyball adds 3 players

July 28, 2018

It took some time, but the Nebraska volleyball team now has some options at the setter position for the 2018 season.

After the graduation of Kelly Hunter and transfer of Hunter Atherton to North Carolina, the Huskers did not have an eligible setter on the roster for the spring training period.

That changed when freshman Nicklin Hames, the No. 1-ranked setter nationally in the 2018 class, arrived for summer conditioning. And now, with the start of practice about two weeks away, Nebraska has added two setters to the roster, giving the Huskers at least an experienced backup, and some competition for Hames.

On Friday coach John Cook announced the addition of three players to the roster who will be immediately eligible: junior setter Mari Kurkova, freshman defensive specialist Chen Abramovich and senior setter Brooke Smith. Smith played at Nebraska in 2015 and ’16 before playing last season at Kansas State.

Cook has been waiting to announce the new players until Kurkova made it through the lengthy process to gain eligibility through the NCAA.

Kurkova, a 5-foot-11 native of Opava, Czech Republic, played club volleyball for PVK Olymp Praha while attending high school. She played with the Czech Republic women’s national team in the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix and was part of the under-20 team that competed in the 2015 World Championship.

Kurkova, who has completed a bachelor’s degree, will be a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility at Nebraska.

“After Hunter Atherton’s transfer we began looking for another setter, and we found out about Mari and started the process,” Cook said in a news release. “She is unique in that she is a grad student, so she will be working on a master’s degree for the next two years. We felt that she would be a good fit at Nebraska because she has experience, she knows what she wants, and there is also a great Czech population in the state of Nebraska.”

Abramovich, of Kfar Saba, Israel, played club volleyball for Hapoel Kfar Saba last season and led her team to the ISR national championship. Hapoel Kfar Saba reached the second round of the CEV Champions League and finished 16th in the CEV Volleyball Cup. Abramovich played on Israel’s junior national team at the 2016 European Championship.

“Chen approached us about playing volleyball at Nebraska once she completed her army commitment,” Cook said. “Chen comes from a strong volleyball family, and her mom is a national hero for starting the Mother’s Volleyball League in Israel, and now it has spread all over the world. Chen played in a league that played with international rules where the libero is not allowed to serve, but she has seen a lot of tough serves and will be a great addition to our back row.”

Smith was a backup setter as a freshman on Nebraska’s national title team and was a serving specialist in 2016. The 5-10 Weatherford, Texas, native transferred to Kansas State for the 2017 season, where she split time at setter and averaged 4.71 assists and 1.71 digs per set. She was second on the team with 27 aces.

Smith, who will train as a setter at Nebraska, had a season-high 29 assists in a five-set match at Georgia Tech on Sept. 8.

“Brooke found out she missed Nebraska and the relationships she built in her first two years here,” Cook said. “She is a great addition to our team because she is such a hard worker, great teammate and a player everyone really respects. We are very excited to have Brooke back for her final season.”

With Friday’s additions, eight of the 15 players on the Huskers’ 2018 roster were not on the team last season.

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