World-Herald staff writers take a look at each of the Husker women's athletics teams, breaking down their most recent season, the successes or struggles of each group, which direction the teams are trending and more.

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VOLLEYBALL

Big Ten regular season: Second

Preseason prediction: After NU lost a talented crop of seniors, including three All-Americans, Big Ten coaches predicted the Huskers would finish fourth in the preseason.

How it played out: Thanks to a first-team All-America season from Tennessee transfer Kelsey Robinson and the quick adjustment of several newcomers, Nebraska turned heads by finishing second in the country’s top volleyball conference in 2013. Nebraska pushed Final Four participant Texas to five games in Austin in a close loss in September and earned season sweeps of Minnesota, which had been tabbed second in the preseason, and eventual national runner-up Wisconsin. Nebraska eventually was swept in a rematch with Texas at the Devaney Center in the NCAA regional final, keeping the Huskers out of the final four for the fifth straight season.

Success or struggle: The season-ending loss to former Big 12 rival Texas, Nebraska’s first three-game loss in Lincoln since 1989, left a sour taste in the mouth of fans. However, NU surpassed preseason expectations and got more out of Robinson than reasonably could have been asked for when she transferred to Nebraska in January 2013.

Standout/star: Robinson showed she was a quick study to the competition level of the Big Ten by earning the conference’s player of the year honor in 2013 and being named a finalist for NCAA player of the year.

Season high: Fans rightly point to Penn State as Nebraska’s chief rival since joining the Big Ten, but matches with Minnesota have just as likely been ones for the highlight reel. On Nov. 10, the Huskers and Gophers went to five games for the third straight year in Minneapolis. The Huskers won three tight sets while Minnesota won a pair of blowouts.

Season low: Losing to Texas is always a bitter pill for Husker volleyball to swallow, but losing in a sweep at the Devaney Center with a berth in the final four on the line added another layer of heartache for a program that now has lost regional finals in its home state in two straight years.

Trending: Flat. Despite the graduation of Robinson, Nebraska returns a solid core in 2014 led by twins Kadie and Amber Rolfzen and senior setter Mary Pollmiller. However the Big Ten will again be filled with land mines, highlighted by defending national champion Penn State, which brings in what could be the best recruiting class in college volleyball history. The Huskers need to end their final four drought to point things in a firmly upward direction.

— Jeff Sheldon

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SOFTBALL

Big Ten regular season: Tied for first

Big Ten tournament: Lost in the quarterfinals

Preseason prediction: Another deep postseason run. After qualifying for the Women’s College World Series in 2013, expectations were elevated for more than just another NCAA tournament trip.

How it played out: Almost as good as 2013. Though they fell one round short of the WCWS — losing a pair of one-run games to national runner-up Alabama in the Tuscaloosa super regional — this season put the Huskers back on the short list of perennial national powers.

Success or struggle: Success. Anytime a softball team wins at least 40 games it’s a terrific year. This season was just the seventh time the 44-18 Huskers topped that milestone, and it had been a decade since Nebraska won any part of a regular-season title.

Standout/star: Senior twin sisters Tatum and Taylor Edwards. Both capped their careers by finishing as All-Americans for the second time. Taylor was named the first-team catcher while Tatum was a third-team pitcher/utility selection.

Season high: Winning the Columbia, Missouri, regional by sweeping four games in less than 23 hours.

Season low: An 11-4 loss on April 4 at Illinois. The Illini finished the season 24-26 and 7-16 in Big Ten play.

Trending: Up. That’s the only direction the Huskers should go after winning 89 games the past two seasons with such a young lineup. Replacing the Edwards twins and second baseman Hailey Decker, who decided to transfer to Oregon for her final two collegiate seasons, will be eased a bit by a talent-rich roster that will only get better with a strong recruiting class.

— Steve Beideck

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BASKETBALL

Big Ten regular season: Third

Big Ten tournament: First

Preseason prediction: Nebraska was picked to win the league by coaches.

How it played out: The Huskers won the Big Ten tournament title — coach Connie Yori’s first conference tournament title — after finishing third in the regular season. NU earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament with hopes of returning to Pinnacle Bank Arena to play in the Sweet 16 against top-seeded Connecticut. Nebraska fell just short, losing in the second round to BYU 80-76 despite two furious comebacks.

Success or struggle: Success. NU finished 26-7 — the second-most wins in school history — and put four players — Jordan Hooper, Rachel Theriot, Emily Cady and Tear’a Laudermill — on the top two All-Big Ten teams. Yori was Big Ten coach of the year for the second straight season.

Standout/star: Hooper, who won Big Ten player of the year from league coaches. The Alliance native left Lincoln one of the best players in school history.

Season high: Winning the Big Ten tournament title over Iowa. Nebraska has beaten the Hawkeyes eight straight times since entering the league three years ago.

Season low: Nebraska could have played BYU one night later and won by 20. But adjusting to the Cougars’ giant center, Jennifer Hamson, took too long and left the Huskers in a giant hole before their comebacks.

Trending: Up. Hooper, as good as she was, was the only senior on the team, and Nebraska’s highest-rated recruiting class in school history should help with the depth that has eluded the Huskers for two years. The Sweet 16 is a reasonable goal next year.

— Sam McKewon

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SOCCER

Big Ten regular season: First

Big Ten tournament: First

Preseason prediction: Nebraska was picked ninth with Penn State No. 1 after winning 15 straight Big Ten titles.

How it played out: The Huskers were determined to win the league title from the start, ending every practice by shouting, “Big Ten champs.” They did that and more, winning the conference tournament and finishing with the most successful season in more than a decade. After starting 2-2-1, NU won 16 of its next 17 before ending the season with a loss to Boston College in the NCAA second round. The Huskers’ 19-4-1 record was the highest win total since 2000.

Success or struggle: Success. Six seniors brought the team together and a tough defense kept the Huskers in every match. NU tallied eight shutouts and allowed just 1.08 goals per game.

Standout/star: Jordan Jackson piled up nine goals and 12 assists for 30 points. Ari Romero was the workhorse of the defense, averaging about 87 minutes per game.

Season high: Winning the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles and earning a spot in the NCAA tournament. Finished with a No. 13 national ranking.

Season low: A second-round exit in the NCAA tournament was a disappointment after such a successful season. The Huskers gave up a season-high 30 shot attempts in the 4-1 loss.

Trending: Up. The program seems to be back on track after a few tough years, but the key will be replacing six quality seniors. The Huskers will need another strong year from Jaycie Johnson, who led the team with 17 goals and two assists for 36 points.

— Marjie Ducey

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TRACK AND FIELD

Big Ten indoor meet: Third

Big Ten outdoor meet: Second

How it played out: Nebraska finished third at the Big Ten indoor meet and second at the outdoor meet. NU finished 19th at the NCAA outdoor meet as three Huskers earned first-team All-America honors: Sophomore Maggie Malone finished fourth in the javelin, junior Ellie Ewere placed fifth in the triple jump, and freshman long jumper Jazmin McCoy was sixth.

Success or struggle: Considering NU lacked the depth of previous conference title clubs, a second-place finish at the Big Ten outdoor championships was a season highlight. Two Husker throwers took home conference titles: Malone in the javelin and senior Annie Jackson in the discus.

Standout/star: A year after picking up the javelin for the first time, Malone turned heads with a throw of 181-8 to win her first Big Ten championship. She followed it by throwing 181-3 at the NCAA outdoor championships for a fourth-place finish.

Season high: A trio of top-eight finishes at the NCAA outdoor meet gave Nebraska a total of 178 All-Americans in program history in outdoor events.

Season low: The success in the outdoor season made up for a less-than-stellar indoor campaign. NU has 149 All-Americans in indoor events in program history, but didn’t qualify anyone for the NCAA indoor meet in 2014. It marked the program’s second consecutive year without an indoor All-American.

Trending: Up. With the caveat of NU returning all of the athletes it expects to in 2015. Freshman sprinter Kadecia Baird has international aspirations and could be a star in the making if she decides to continue her college career and stays healthy. All three All-Americans will be back.

— Jeff Sheldon

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GOLF

Big Ten tournament: 10th

Trending: NU should have its strongest team next season in several years, as four of the top six individual finishers from the Big Ten championships return, and the Huskers welcome two top 100 recruits.

— Sam McKewon

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GYMNASTICS

Big Ten tournament: Second

Trending: The Huskers won a share of the regular-season Big Ten title and qualified for the Super Six at the NCAA’s. NU loses star Emily Wong to graduation but otherwise returns a big chunk of the team.

— Sam McKewon

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TENNIS

Big Ten tournament: Lost in first round to Illinois

Trending: After the best team in school history took NU to the Sweet 16 in 2013, the Huskers went winless in the Big Ten. NU can only improve next year.

— Sam McKewon

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SWIMMING

Big Ten tournament: Ninth

Trending: The Huskers keep plugging away with a smaller squad. Former Omaha Burke diver Anna Filipcic was the first Husker diver to qualify for the NCAA championships since 2005.

— Sam McKewon

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RIFLE

NCAA championships: Fifth

Trending: The Huskers had a fine year, busting into the nation’s top five in November and staying there for most of the year. NU lost just two shooting matches last year — to West Virginia and Kentucky.

— Sam McKewon

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BOWLING

NCAA championships: Second

Trending: For a second straight year, the Huskers advanced to the NCAA finals before losing to Sam Houston State 4-2. NU did well despite a lengthy absence of coach Bill Straub, who battled an illness for months.

— Sam McKewon

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CROSS COUNTRY

Big Ten tournament: Men/11th, Women/11th

Trending: The women made progress in beating a team at the Big Ten meet, while the men improved 18 spots at the NCAA Midwest regional.

— Sam McKewon

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