LINCOLN — In its purest form, serving is a simple task: Get the ball over the net.
For the Nebraska volleyball team, each serve is a combination of strategy, statistics, comfort and aggression.
“We work hard on serving every day, and I tell them that it’s the most important drill we’re doing,” Nebraska coach John Cook said Tuesday night during his weekly radio show.
Cook said the Huskers have at least three possible aims when they step to the service line: trying to get an ace, trying to slow the opponent’s offense or serving at a hitter to take her out of the attack. Another option for Cook is to call for the type of serve a player does best.
The other variable is where players serve. Cook said he lets players choose where to stand along the end line. Some of that is based on comfort or natural serving style, but their location might be dictated by their defensive position. Setter Nicklin Hames serves from the right side so she can transition easily in the right-back position.
Cook said the Huskers have worked harder on serving than last year, but their results don’t match last year’s success rate of 90.8% on serves. He said he couldn’t explain the difference other than the fact that the team replaced two seniors with a pair of freshmen.
“At times we really stress teams, but serving is a fine line,” Cook said. “You’re just always living on that fine line whether we are right above it or right below it.”
All the way around
Cook said this year’s annual rules questionnaire asked how many substitutions should be allowed each set. Current rules allow 15, but Cook said he favors reducing the limit to eight. International rules allow only six subs per set.
Cook said reducing the number of substitutions would encourage athletes to play six rotations and become more well-rounded.
“That’s the way the rest of the world plays,” Cook said. “You learn how to be volleyball players and play the whole game.”
The parents of former graduate manager Dane Leclair, who died on Oct. 27, visited with the team on Sunday evening. Paul and Rebecca Leclair had dinner to try to provide closure for the group. Cook said players were still emotionally drained on Monday, and as a result practice consisted of a quick warmup session and yoga.
The dinner “was awesome and great for our girls,” he said, “but very emotional.”