Nebraska volleyball might be faced with predominantly playing in their conference in the 2020 season.
While this is usually how it goes in collegiate sports, Nebraska volleyball typically spends the first month of the season facing off against non-conference opponents.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that might not be possible for the Huskers in 2020.
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Parker Gabriel of The Lincoln Journal Star talked with Nebraska head coach John Cook about the Huskers potentially only playing in the Big Ten this year
Cook gave a rather detailed answer about how the different protocols in conjunction with the schools.
“Based on all the meetings we’ve had and everything, it’s probably leaning toward a Big Ten-only schedule,” Cook said. “No nonconference and maybe we’ll be allowed to play Creighton and UNO, which are close here. They don’t want anybody traveling and they don’t want what they call cross-pollination, meaning, if we go to California, to Texas, to Florida, we’re going to different schools with different protocols and everything. Whereas in the Big Ten, everybody’s going to be on the same page.
This would be a bummer, but it’s absolutely the right decision with all that’s going on in the world right now. Nebraska would still get to play against a tough non-conference opponent in Creighton and would get a crack at UNO (Nebraska-Omaha) as well. Other than that, they’d be playing their conference foes in 2020.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing.
The good news is that it’d obviously be safer for everybody involved. It’d also set the Huskers up for when they have to play tougher teams in the tournament (assuming that can go on as planned). The Huskers have fared well against their conference foes over the years, but there’s no doubt that it’s the best conference in all of college volleyball (PAC-12 has a case, but let’s be real – Stanford carries them).
The bad news is that the Big Ten is very tough and normally have four or five teams ranked in the top ten. Wisconsin made it all the way to the National Championship game last year and owned Nebraska throughout the season, not losing a single set to the Cornhuskers through three matches.
Along with Wisconsin, there’s Penn State, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, and Michigan, who all have been successful over the past few seasons. Having to square off against these teams and ONLY these teams in 2020 could make getting to the title game much tougher because the Huskers won’t be able to pad their win column against the non-conference teams.
At this point, I’ll take Nebraska volleyball only playing against the Big Ten if it means we actually get college volleyball this year. Obviously I want everyone to be safe and it could be tricky doing that in a sport like volleyball, but if limiting the travel helps, then that’s the route the NCAA should take.