With new team and motto, coach John Cook's Huskers aim to keep it going

The Huskers are aiming to continue the tradition and culture of Nebraska volleyball. “Since this group is together for two years, they want to continue what they’ve built and what we’ve built during the last few years and keep it going,” coach John Cook said.

LINCOLN — In a year when movie theaters have been flooded with sequels, the Nebraska volleyball team rolled out its theme for the 2019 season also hoping to build off its past success: To Be Continued.

With no seniors on the roster, NU coach John Cook said the theme focuses on how the players will carry forward the tradition and culture of Nebraska volleyball.

“Since this group is together for two years, they want to continue what they’ve built and what we’ve built during the last few years and keep it going,” Cook said.

The players met with NU sports psychologist Brett Haskell over the summer to come up with the theme, which was unveiled Saturday night. They made a bulletin board in the locker room breaking down how they plan to carry on the Huskers’ past success, which includes two national championships, two conference titles and four trips to the Final Four in the past four seasons.

The Huskers will have the motto put on shirts along with the number 29,029 — the height in feet of the peak of Mt. Everest. Cook said many people say the mountain is 29,000 feet tall, forgetting the final 29 feet, which are also the hardest of the climb.

“All the bad things happen in the last 29 feet,” Cook said. “People mentally let go, they’re exhausted, they get stuck. Our whole theme is we got to figure out how to get the last 29 feet.”

Last season, the Huskers came up three points short in the fifth set of the national championship match.

Each of this year’s season tickets features previous seasons’ mottos, including “with each other, for each other,” “we over me” and “this we will defend.”

Preseason study break

Since kicking off fall camp on Saturday, the Huskers practiced every day until Wednesday, when Cook gave them the day off. Many of the players are finishing up summer classes on Friday, so Cook gave them time to prepare for finals.

The players also received Tuesday and Thursday mornings off, an unusual break from years past.

Because of a new NCAA rule that allows freshmen to travel on foreign trips, Cook said he’s having to do less install and instructional coaching during fall camp, even with six freshmen on the roster.

“We are training the crap out of them, and we are going really hard,” Cook said. “Last year, we had to slow it way down because we had six freshmen. This year, we have a big group of freshmen, too, but they all know everything because of the Asia trip. We are humming pretty good for this early in the season.”

Another new face on staff

Nebraska added a new member to its staff in Beau Lawler, the video coordinator and assistant director of volleyball operations.

Lawler was an assistant at Idaho State last year and served as video and statistics coordinator at Utah from 2015-17. NU assistant Jaylen Reyes, who previously worked for the BYU men’s volleyball team, met Lawler a few times in the Salt Lake City area, so he reached out to gauge Lawler’s interest.

Lawler said he thought he moved past the world of operations but couldn’t pass up the chance to work at Nebraska.

“It’s been a program that I’ve followed and admired for a long time, so I’m excited for the chance to come here and learn,” he said.

Previously, the video coordinator role belonged to a graduate manager before being elevated into a full-time position. Lawler said he’s looking forward to collaborating with coaches and other staff members to find areas to innovate.

“Nebraska, in all sports, has pushed the limit, and I want to see what we can do to push the limit for film and stats analysis,” he said.

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