Nebraska, Colorado State set to meet in McCook for spring exhibition

Nebraska’s Lauren Stivrins (26) and Nicklin Hames celebrate a first set point against Missouri in a second-round NCAA tournament match on Dec. 1, 2018, at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. The Huskers will play Colorado State in a spring exhibition game on Saturday in McCook.

Here come the Huskers, and the wave of Big Red faithful eager to fill the stands.

After staying in Lincoln for the 2018 spring practice period, the Nebraska volleyball team returns to touring the western part of the state, where they’re slated to scrimmage Colorado State at the Peter & Dolores Graff Events Center in McCook on Saturday.

The trip continues Nebraska’s growing tradition in touring and engaging with the fans outside of Lincoln, adding McCook to a list that includes recently visited communities in Grand Island, Wayne, Norfolk, Ogallala and Kearney.

Nebraska last scrimmaged Colorado State in Kearney two years ago, sweeping the Rams 25-17, 25-16, 25-17, in what became the first of many sweeps culminating with a 2017 national championship title.

Last season, the Huskers reached the NCAA Final Four for the fourth straight year — a program best — where they finished as runner-up, dropping a five-set match to Stanford in Minneapolis.

Nebraska returns five starters from last year’s team, including first-team All-American Lauren Stivrins.

The 6-foot-4 middle blocker averaged 2.36 kills and 1.17 blocks per set while hitting .421 last season — the third highest mark in school history. Husker setter Nicklin Hames earned All-America honorable mention, while joining middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach as a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selections.

Colorado State also made the NCAA Tournament last season, losing to Tennessee in the opening round. The Rams return all their starters, which include All-America honorable mention Katie Oleksak and Kirstie Hillyer.

Oleksak, a 5-foot-10 setter, earned Mountain West Player of the Year for the second time last season, while the 6-foot-6 Hillyer averaged 3.04 kills, 1.23 blocks and hit .363 as a middle hitter.

The Rams also have former North Platte High School standout Olivia Nicholson on the roster. Last season as a junior, the 6-foot former Bulldog appeared in 29 matches, starting the season as an outside hitter before transitioning to libero three weeks into the season. Nicholson recorded 311 digs and led the Rams in aces with 37.

Doors open at 11:30 a.m., with the game starting at 1 p.m. Husker volleyball players will sign autographs following the match.

The match will be broadcast on the radio on 98.5 FM in the North Platte area.

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