Change is positive

 After Michaela Foecke’s kill in Kansas City gave the Huskers the national championship against Florida, I almost teared up, watching the emotional celebration take place from the nosebleed section amid all of the confetti.
Saturday night in Lincoln following the Red-White Scrimmage, Husker head volleyball coach John Cook did choke up just a bit when he took a microphone and introduced NET’s 2017 season recap that then played on the big screens.
And if change is good, then this 2018 version has a chance to be great once again.
After a total of seven new players joined Cook’s program a year ago along with two new coaches, this time around he welcomes in eight newbies, and one new assistant for good measure.
So will all of this turnover guarantee a spot in December’s Final 4 in Minneapolis?
At first glance it’s easy to look at the talent level on this year’s squad and expect great things, but three freshmen in the starting lineup, as is expected to be the case Friday night when the No. 2 Huskers and No. 7 Gators do battle yet again in Lincoln in the final season of the VERT Challenge, simply means that there are going to be way too many variables as the season progresses. By variables I mean highs and lows, something last year’s squad never seemed to struggle with after they got rolling.
The team that I watched in K.C. looked exactly like the team I watched all season long at Devaney. Consistent, driven, together, highly skilled. Yet just a group of girls having some fun out on a volleyball court.
All-American setter Kelly Hunter graduated and leaves behind a huge void on and off the court that must be filled. Her loss will definitely be felt the greatest, but I came away Saturday night thinking that freshman Nicklin Hames from Tennessee may just be able to pull this off. The top setter and No. 4 recruit nationally played great and got the ball to her attackers where they could finish.
A record sellout crowd of more than 8,000 enjoyed every minute of the three sets. That is in stark contrast to the 1500 (at best) who showed up for the No. 3 Texas Longhorns’ Orange-White Scrimmage on Saturday.
The only downside to the scrimmage was that Texas transfer and outside hitter Lexi Sun was held out due to an injury. Cook now says she’s day-to-day, so getting the All-Big 12 player back would be huge, especially if she could go against Florida.
The Huskers play Oregon on Saturday night but won’t face Texas.
Nebraska does return senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke and senior libero Kenzie Maloney. That alone is reason for optimism -- two great players who hopefully will be two great leaders.
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Who will win Nebraska’s starting quarterback job? That’s the question of the week. While I’m hoping for true freshman Adrian Martinez, my gut tells me it’s going to be redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, at least for now.
Head coach Scott Frost has said many times over the past week that he wants one to emerge to be the starter, which of course makes sense.
While Martinez is more athletic, Gebbia has to know and understand the offense just a little bit better.
I’m guessing both may play quite a bit during the non-conference and then one will be chosen when they head to Michigan on Sept. 22.
Can Husker football really be just 10 days away?
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net

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