LINCOLN — With a mother and father who met on a Nebraska volleyball court and many relatives living in the state, Annika Albrecht may have been the surest pledge in the Huskers' next freshman class.
The 6-foot-1 outside hitter from North Aurora, Ill., promised to join the Nebraska program in the class of 2014. Albrecht took her official visit to Nebraska last weekend for the Huskers' home opener and committed on her visit, she said.
“I've been a Cornhusker fan my entire life,” Albrecht said Wednesday. “I never really seriously considered anywhere else.”
Albrecht is an Illinois native, but her Nebraska ties run deep. Her parents, Jim and Lynne, are both Nebraska natives and NU alumni. Jim is from Sterling, Lynne from Omaha. The two met while playing intramural volleyball on campus. Many family members still live in Nebraska, including her grandfather, Bill Bovick of Omaha.
Albrecht said another big factor in her college decision was the faith community on the Nebraska campus. She was particularly impressed with UNL's Newman Center, the on-campus Catholic student center.
“It's really attractive to see so many students really going to Mass on a weekday night,” she said.
Albrecht could play a variety of positions in Lincoln. She said Husker coaches have floated the possibility of using her as anything from a left-side attacker to a back-row defensive specialist.
Her commitment gives the Huskers two players in next year's class from Chicago's powerhouse Sports Performance volleyball club. Albrecht will join current club teammate Maddie Haggerty, the younger sister of NU sophomore middle blocker Meghan Haggerty, as 2014 recruits.
Nebraska has built quite a pipeline of late into the Sports Performance program, which won the 18-and-under AAU national championship this summer and is ranked the country's No. 1 club team by PrepVolleyball.com. Meghan Haggerty and senior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson are alums of the club, and the Huskers recently picked up a pledge from the youngest Haggerty sister, Molly Haggerty, to join the program in 2016.
Sports Performance coach Rick Butler said Albrecht compares favorably to Robinson in terms of all-around skill and could be a six-rotation player.
“She's a great skilled player,” Butler said. “She's one of the best passers we've ever had in our program. Really close to where Kelsey was at the same age as a serve receiver.”
Albrecht is ranked in the top 70 high school recruits in 2014 by PrepVolleyball, though ironically, she has never played an official high school match. Like her six siblings, Albrecht is home schooled. She plays for the Crossroads Crusaders, a team made of home-schooled players from Illinois and Wisconsin. Butler said Albrecht also practices in the fall with Sports Performance's nationally competitive boys team.
“We've never had a girl, ever, that's been a more popular teammate than Annika,” Butler said. “Everybody who's around her just instantly likes her.”