Renovated Devaney welcomes sellout crowd; injury subdues mood

Morgan Broekhuis serves in the third set during the Red-White scrimmage.


LINCOLN — Nebraska’s Red-White volleyball scrimmage Saturday night showed that the Huskers’ sparkling new home at a renovated Devaney Center can get loud.

But during a distressing moment, we found out just how quiet it can get, too.

A sellout crowd of 8,243 packed the Devaney Center to see the current Huskers split a pair of games (25-19, 17-25) against a decorated team of former players before the alumnae teamed with Nebraska’s underclassmen to take a third game 25-22 from a team made up mostly of Husker upperclassmen.

The night of celebration was dampened by an injury to senior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson that may put the team in an uncertain place a week before the season opener.

Robinson injured her left (non-swinging) shoulder after diving for a ball in Game 2. She lay on the court clutching her arm in obvious pain while a hush fell over the arena. Robinson went to the locker room assisted by trainers, then returned to the bench to watch the final game with her arm wrapped in ice.

Nebraska coach John Cook said he did not have an update on Robinson’s injury after the match.

“I don’t know what happened. She must have landed funny,” Cook said. “The good thing is it’s on her left shoulder, but it’s one of those deals we probably won’t know for a couple days to see how it does.”

Robinson’s recovery may influence whether the Huskers begin the season using a 5-1 or 6-2 offensive system. The 6-2 system, which features two setters and more player substitutions, requires more depth at outside hitter. If Robinson can’t return for Friday’s season opener in St. Louis against Louisiana-Monroe, Cook said, Nebraska would use a 5-1 system.

If Robinson is out, sophomore Kelsey Fien becomes the team’s only healthy left-side attacker with freshman Kadie Rolfzen still recovering from an arm injury. Fien showcased her powerful swing Saturday with 12 kills on 25 attempts, displaying continued improvement in her third year in the program.

“If she can continue to make progress like she made this summer and last spring, she has the potential to do some great things for our team,” Cook said.

Senior opposite hitter Morgan Broekhuis also added 12 kills and hit a Red team-high .357.

Both setters showed well, too. Junior Mary Pollmiller, a transfer from Tennessee, started and handed out a match-high 24 assists. Freshman Kelly Hunter had seven assists in the first two games before switching to set the White team in Game 3.

The alumni team provided its share of highlights as well, with former three-time All-American Nancy Metcalf leading the White squad with 11 kills. Jordan Larson Burbach, a star on the 2006 national championship team, had five kills, while Gina Mancuso added eight.

Cook said last week he would be shocked if his current squad could take a game from the star-studded alumni, and the White team led throughout Game 1. But the Red team settled its nerves and rallied in Game 2 behind five kills from Broekhuis and four from Fien to even the match.

“You’ve got to look at Nancy and Jordan — those are pro players,” Cook said. “They’re playing against the biggest players in the world. We’ve got pups out there, but they’re matching up.

“They did some nice things physically at the net. We played good floor defense. This team competes really hard. I’m very, very optimistic. If we can get healthy, that’s going to be a key.”

The night was as much a celebration of the Devaney Center as a sneak peek at the 2013 Huskers. Because workers raced to put finishing touches on the arena during the week, the team just moved into its new locker room Saturday afternoon. Most players took time to soak in the surroundings at the Devaney, which underwent a $20 million renovation. Several posted pictures online before the scrimmage examining the luxury suites and concourses.

“I just walked in the gym and went in circles, just looking at it. It is amazing,” Broekhuis said. “It just makes you so thankful for what we have and the support that Nebraska volleyball has. It still hasn’t set in that this is where we play. This is our home.”

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