LINCOLN — With his team trailing by nine points in the first set, John Cook reached for the green card on the table next to his seat to challenge an out call.
The challenge looked like a lost cause for Nebraska with Purdue just four points away from winning the first set, but that didn’t matter to Cook, who trusted the players that Purdue had touched an attack from Madi Kubik.
The challenge was successful, and it started an 8-0 run and helped the Huskers close the set with a 13-2 run. Cook said he isn’t worried about the timing of using a green card or about running out of the three allotted challenges before earning a bonus one in the fifth set.
“We try to win every point, we don’t look at the score,” Cook said. “If I burn through three of those, then it’s probably a bad job by the officiating and everyone knows it if we win it.”
Nebraska won two more crucial challenges in the third set of Saturday’s match against Penn State. The first changed an error into a Kubik kill and reduced the Nittany Lions’ lead to 4-3. Later, Cook challenged the failure to call a touch on an attack by Lauren Stivrins that was part of a 7-2 run that gave NU a 14-10 lead.
Cook said he listens to the players and assistant coach Jaylen Reyes about when to issue a challenge.
“They are right most of the time,” Cook said. “The question is whether the video is good enough to prove it.”
Cook cited a play against Indiana where Megan Miller had a pancake dig, but the ball was initially ruled down and the video wasn’t clear enough to overturn the call.
One of the issues is the replay system in Big Ten gyms is not the highest standard. They used high-speed cameras in the Final Four last year, and that system is expanding to the regional rounds this year. The conference can review the equipment at the league coaches meeting in February, but an upgrade isn’t a given because of the cost of the equipment.
“It’s time to upgrade it. Whether the Big Ten will do that, I don’t know,” Cook said.
Knuckles earns Big Ten honor
Kenzie Knuckles was named the Big Ten co-defensive player of the week on Monday. The freshman libero averaged five digs per set in the Huskers’ two wins last week, including a career-best 24 against Penn State.
Knuckles was also honored as the league’s freshman of the week after the first weekend of the season.
Cook said Knuckles has grown into her role after playing outside hitter in high school. Knuckles has helped anchor the Huskers’ defense, which is eighth nationally in opponent hitting percentage at .142.
“She is getting more confident,” Cook said. “She’s understanding and getting a feel for how to be a great libero.”
Huskers swap spots with PSU
Nebraska moved up one spot to No. 7 in this week’s AVCA coaches poll, while Penn State dropped one spot to No. 8. That switch was the only change in the top 10 of the poll.
In other poll news, the NCAA tournament selection committee released its first rankings of the season, and the Huskers checked in at No. 6. Texas was No. 1 ahead of Baylor, Wisconsin, Stanford and Pittsburgh.