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Big Ten Countdown: 06 - Nebraska Volleyball

Up until now, we have reviewed all of the varsity athletic programs at UNL and have given some insight on how the teams are likely to do in the Big Ten. Today we look at the one sport we haven't gone over yet: the Women's Volleyball team.

If there's one sport at UNL that could even come close to the popularity of football, it's the volleyball team. Mind you, the volleyball team will probably never equal the appeal of the gridiron, but there are people that enjoy going to the matches at the Coliseum more than they like the football team. The Lady Huskers give Women sports at Nebraska a chance to shine and they are always good enough to make a Final Four run.

While at the university, I was in the Big Red Express.  That's the official name of the pep band that plays at the basketball and volleyball games. While in the band, we ended up going to Long Beach, CA for the 1997 NCAA tournament and to Madison, WI for the 1998 NCAA final four. Both were really great trips. I'm not sure if they still do it at the Colliseum, but the 1997 game against USC is where we started the "N-U-Face!" chant. It was created in response to the USC crowd and their chant "U-S-Seeya!" Thoroughly confused? Typically in volleyball there are three hits per attack, the dig, the set and the spike. The dig gets the "N", the set gets the "U" and the spike gets the "Face!"

We beat USC that day, but we lost to Long Beach State the following day. The Madison trip was a quick one and we didn't really get a lot of time to see the town. There isn't a whole lot of daylight there during the first/second week of December. I'm hoping that there will be more time to see Madison if I can make it up there around the 8th of October this year, but those tickets are going to be hard to come by.

So I said the team was good. Well, just how good? Since they started playing, they have only lost 5 total home matches to Big 8/Big XII opponents. Overall, their home record is 527-36. This is an amazing .936 home win percentage. Since they started in 1975, they have failed to be conference champions only five times (1975, 1993, 1997, 2003, and 2009). They have 31 conferences titles between the Big 8 and Big XII. They have made the postseason tournament every year with the exception of the original NCAA tournament in 1981. They have eleven final four appearances, three national runner-up finishes, and three NCAA championships.

Having a good volleyball team is expected at Lincoln. But with the move to the Big Ten Conference, things are going to change. Winning conference titles becomes a lot harder. Whereas Texas was the Huskers main rival in the Big XII, Penn State is surely to become the most difficult game on the Huskers schedule every year. You know those 5 conference home losses we talked about earlier? It could become 6 on September 21 when the Nittany Lions come to town. It's very possible that the Penn State-Nebraska matches this year will draw a pretty good viewership on the BTN. They might be the most watch live events outside of football and basketball on that station.

In the Big Ten, every school has a women's volleyball team. Currently the schedule has Nebraska playing nine of the schools twice each year and two schools once. In addition to Penn State, the Big Ten offers some more quality volleyball programs in the form of Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota. The Huskers should be able to compete for conference titles, but it's unlikely that they will dominate the Big Ten like they were able to do with the Big 8/Big XII.